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Big South XC Preview Set for Saturday
The Liberty cross country team will close out a low-key month of September, when a few Lady Flames travel to Blacksburg, Va., for Saturday's Big South Preview. The meet, hosted by Radford at Blacksburg Middle School, will use the same course as the Oct. 30 Big South Cross Country Championships.
The gun for the women's 5K race is scheduled to go off at 10:30 a.m., followed by the men's 8K at 11:30 a.m. Every Big South cross country squad except the Liberty men's team, Coastal Carolina women's squad and Charleston Southern men's and women's teams is expected to compete on Saturday.
Women's Tentative Lineup
Saturday's forecast calls for a high of 81 degrees and scattered thunderstorms. During the women's race, the temperature figures to be in the upper 60s or lower 70s, which is cooler than either of Liberty's first two meets this season.
Scouting the Competition
With only four runners entered, the Lady Flames will not be eligible to compete for Saturday's team championship. Coastal Carolina will also be absent, leaving VMI as the favorite to win the women's race.
On the men's side, High Point looks to be the strongest team entered in the Big South Preview. The Panthers are ranked No. 12 in the Southeast Region, just four spots behind Liberty.
Back to Blacksburg
The Big South Preview will mark the second of Liberty's three meets in Blacksburg this season. The Flames previously opened their campaign at the Virginia Tech Cross Country Relays on Sept. 3, on Virginia Tech's campus. Saturday's meet and the Big South Cross Country Championships on Oct. 30 will be held at Blacksburg Middle School.
All four of the Lady Flames' entrants in the Big South Preview also competed in the Virginia Tech Cross Country Relays. Lindsay Papet was the most successful of the four that afternoon, tying for the 13th-fastest overall time at the meet (19:40.1) and teaming up with Denise Troyer for eighth place in the women's relay.
Big South Preview Reviewed
This is the third straight year Liberty will be represented at the Big South Preview meet, and the Flames have fared well in their two previous appearances. Jordan McDougal and Josh Edmonds finished first and second on their home course in 2008, leading the Liberty men's squad to victory.
Last year, the Lady Flames claimed the team title at the Big South Preview in Winston-Salem, N.C., after placing Dacia Bushman (2nd), Jennifer Klugh (3rd) and Hailey Neal (5th) in the top five overall.
Claiming Conference Hardware
Liberty seniors swept the Big South Men's and Women's Cross Country Runner of the Week honors on Wednesday, as Evans Kigen captured the men's award and Hailey Neal took the women's honor. Both made successful 2010 season debuts at the Coastal Carolina Invitational, Friday in Conway, S.C.
Kigen won the men's 6K race in impressive fashion, defeating his nearest competitor by 26 seconds and cutting 44 seconds off of the course record. It was his first cross country individual victory at Liberty. Meanwhile, Neal's personal-best 5K clocking of 18:26.6 earned a second-place finish in the women's race.
This is the first time Liberty has won both the Big South Men's and Women's Cross Country Runner of the Week awards in the same week since Oct. 22, 2008, when Sam Chelanga and Rebekah Ricksecker swept the conference honors.
After placing six runners in the top 11 and winning the team title at Friday's Coastal Carolina Invitational, the Liberty men's cross country team moved up to No. 8 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Southeast Region poll. The Flames have been ranked anywhere between No. 7 and No. 9 regionally so far this season.