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2010 Cross Country Season to Open with VT Relays

September 2, 2010
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Josh Edmonds is expected to pair up with brother Caleb Edmonds at Friday's Virginia Tech Cross Country Relays.

Click here to follow live updates from Friday's meet, via the LibertyFlames Twitter account

Relay races are not customarily associated with cross country. However, Liberty will use Friday's Virginia Tech Cross Country Relays as its season-opening meet for the third consecutive season. The women's two-person relay is set to begin at 5 p.m., with the men's relay to follow at 6 p.m., at the on-campus Virginia Tech Cross Country Course in Blacksburg, Va.

The women's race will cover 10K in total, with each relay team's two members alternating 2.5K baton carries. Meanwhile, the men's race will stretch out to 14K. Each men's runner will complete a pair of 3.5K circuits.

The meet is shaping up as a two-way battle between the Flames and the host Hokies, and the team champion will be determined by the combined score of each school's top three two-person relay units. Below is a look at Liberty's tentative relay teams.

Women's Tentative Pairings
Jennifer Klugh/Khristina Kanagy
Rod'Esther Castor/Katie Russo
Taylor Bowles/Meg Bowles
Amy Passauer/Denise Troyer

Men's Tentative Pairings
Josh Edmonds/Caleb Edmonds
Josh MacDonald/David Ricksecker
Zach Barker/Jarred Cornfield
Spencer Jackson/Dan Hibbs

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
For the first time, Liberty cross country fans will be able to keep up with the Flames and Lady Flames via live Twitter updates from Blacksburg. Fans are invited to follow the LibertyFlames Twitter account (twitter.com/libertyflames) to view photo and text updates throughout both of Friday's races.

Weather Forecast
Friday's weather will certainly be hot for distance running. The forecast calls for a temperature of 82 degrees under mostly sunny skies at 6 p.m. in Blacksburg.

Scouting the Competition
Even though only one other team is entered in Friday's meet, the Flames and Lady Flames should both face some solid competition. Virginia Tech's men's harriers are ranked No. 8 in the Southeast Region, just one spot behind the Flames. Meanwhile, the Hokies are listed No. 11 regionally on the women's side.

Just for Starters
Liberty is opening its cross country campaign with the Virginia Tech Cross Country Relays for the third year in a row. It is also the fourth straight season and the sixth time in the last seven years, the Flames have run their season opener at Virginia Tech.

Just for Starters, Part Two
Six freshmen will make their first appearance in a Liberty uniform on Friday. The list of newcomers includes Meg Bowles and Katie Russo on the women's side, and the quartet of Zach Barker, Jarred Cornfield, Caleb Edmonds and Josh MacDonald for the Flames.

Liberty's two NCAA national cross country champions both made their Flames debuts at this same Virginia Tech course. Josh McDougal, a volunteer assistant coach for this year's men's team, posted a comfortable victory at the Festival in the Fields meet on Sept. 4, 2004. Meanwhile, Sam Chelanga teamed up with Mark Hopely to form the winning duo at the Virginia Tech Cross Country Relays on Sept. 5, 2008.

Checking in on Chelanga
Speaking of Chelanga, the defending NCAA national cross country champion is not expected to make his 2010 cross country debut until Oct. 1, when the Flames travel to Bethlehem, Pa., for the Brooks Paul Short Run.

The redshirt senior from Nairobi, Kenya has been garnering media attention in recent weeks. Running Times labeled Chelanga the favorite to successfully defend his national cross country title (click here to read the article), while Flotrack recently conducted a lengthy interview with him (click here to read the interview).

Recalling Past Relays
Liberty has captured one team title and two relay squad crowns at the Virginia Tech Cross Country Relays, and all three championships came in 2008. Chelanga and Hopely's win led the Liberty men's team to a first-place finish with a team score of 12 points. Meanwhile, the duo of Ashley Osborne and Rebekah Ricksecker crossed the line first in that evening's women's relay.

Sister Act/Band of Brothers
Liberty's 2010 cross country roster features two pairs of siblings, and both will team up on Friday at Virginia Tech. Sophomore Taylor Bowles and freshman Meg Bowles will compete together in the women's race, followed by the tandem of redshirt senior Josh Edmonds and freshman Caleb Edmonds on the men's side.

Josh Edmonds has experienced success on Virginia Tech's course before. He won the individual title by 10 seconds at the Virginia Tech Invitational on Sept. 8, 2007. Moreover, Edmonds' winning time of 18:32 for the approximately 6K course eclipsed Josh McDougal's then course record.

Back to Blacksburg
Friday's race will mark the first of Liberty's three visits to Blacksburg during the 2010 cross country season. The Flames and Lady Flames will return on Sept. 25 for the Big South Preview and Oct. 30 for the 2010 Big South Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships.

Both races, hosted by Radford, will be held at a different venue than Friday's meet.

Great Expectations
Liberty swept the Big South men's and women's cross country team titles in 2009, and both squads enter the 2010 campaign with high hopes. Head coach Brant Tolsma's men's team was a unanimous pick to capture its sixth consecutive Big South title and earned a No. 7 ranking in the preseason U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Southeast Region poll.

The Lady Flames, seeking their second straight Big South championship and fourth title in the last five years, were also tabbed as the conference's preseason favorite by the Big South head coaches.