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Kigen's Record Leads Flames to Victory
Liberty redshirt senior Evans Kigen demolished the course record at Friday's Coastal Carolina Invitational, and his first-place finish highlighted the Flames' team victory. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames took third place in the meet held at Quail Creek Golf Course.
Kigen, a cross country All-American in 2009, averaged 4:58 per mile on the 6K course for an overall time of 18:30.8. The Eldoret, Kenya native won the race by 26 seconds and smashed the course record by 44 seconds during a successful season debut.
Kigen was one of six Liberty men's runners to finish in the top 11, as the Flames totaled 25 points. The quarter-century total put head coach Brant Tolsma's squad 31 points in front of runner-up UNC Wilmington.
On the women's side, senior Hailey Neal placed second in the field of 77 runners to pace the Lady Flames. Liberty ended up with 58 points, trailing victorious host Coastal Carolina's score of 31 and UNC Wilmington's 44 markers.
Men's Meet Recap
Kigen was followed by a pair of Liberty veterans in the men's overall top five. Redshirt senior Jake Reed's time of 19:01.2 also eclipsed the previous course record and earned a third-place finish. Meanwhile, redshirt junior Mark Hopely came in fifth in 19:24.8.
Liberty continued to claim the odd-numbered places, down through the 11th spot. Isaac Wendland was seventh with a 19:36.2 effort, while Will Reeves nabbed ninth place in 19:38.8.
Freshman Jarred Cornfield crossed the line in 20:05.3, as Liberty's sixth finisher and in 11th position overall. That gave the Flames six finishers before any other team's No. 3 performer had completed the race. Rounding out the Flames' top seven on Friday was another freshman, Zach Barker. He claimed 24th place with his 20:31.8 clocking.
Women's Meet Recap
Like the Liberty men's team, the Lady Flames were keyed by upperclassmen on a warm South Carolina afternoon. Neal, a Florida native, did not mind the heat. She opened her final cross country campaign with a personal-best 5K time, 18:26.6, for second place. Fellow senior Dacia Bushman made it two Lady Flames in the top five, running an 18:48.7 to earn the fifth spot.
Liberty's No. 3 through 6 runners came in within 14 seconds of one another. Denise Troyer's 19:49.1 clocking put her in 14th place. Betel Yosef followed in 19:56.9, Alicia Guridy ran a 19:57.7 and Taylor Bowles notched a 20:03.2, claiming 18th, 19th and 20th place, respectively.
Freshman Jessica Gass closed out the Lady Flames' top seven with a 29th-place finish. Her official time was 20:40.4.
Liberty will return to action on Sept. 25, at the Big South Preview meet. The races will be contested at the site of this year's Big South Cross Country Championships, in Blacksburg, Va.