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Flames, Lady Flames Both Regionally Ranked
For the first time this season, both the Liberty men's and women's cross country teams are ranked in this week's U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Southeast Region poll. The Flames moved up to No. 7, while the Lady Flames joined the rankings at No. 10.
Head coach Brant Tolsma's men's squad equals its highest regional ranking of the year, after an impressive 10th-place finish in Saturday's Pre-Nationals white race. Big South rival High Point also climbed two spots in this week's Southeast Region poll, up to No. 11. Duke remains atop the region, followed by fellow ACC members N.C. State and Virginia.
For the Flames, 10th place marked their best-ever team showing at Pre-Nationals. Liberty defeated two nationally-ranked opponents in their race, including No. 21 Tulsa and No. 25 Minnesota.
Individually, Sam Chelanga claimed the second Pre-Nationals title of his career, posting a 12-second victory in an 8K clocking of 23:19.9. All-American Evans Kigen also stepped up with a high finish, placing 20th overall in 24:11.8.
Meanwhile, the Lady Flames make their 2010 debut in the regional poll, after placing 28th in the Pre-Nationals blue race. Liberty defeated William & Mary, listed No. 11 in this week's Southeast Region poll, in the process. Duke also tops the women's Southeast Region rankings, with local rivals North Carolina and N.C. State following in the second and third positions, respectively.
The women's team was paced by redshirt sophomore Jennifer Klugh. Her place (36th) and 6K time (21:01.6) both established new program bests for the Pre-Nationals meet. Klugh's time was 21 seconds faster than any Lady Flame had ever run at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course.
Liberty's next meet is not until Oct. 30. That day, the Flames and Lady Flames will head to Blacksburg Middle School in Blacksburg, Va., for the 2010 Big South Cross Country Championships. The men's squad will seek its sixth straight Big South title, while the Lady Flames attempt to win for the fourth time in the last five years.
The Big South women's 5K race will get underway at 10:30 a.m. The men's 8K championship will then follow at 11:30 a.m.
USTFCCCA NCAA Division I Southeast Region Men's Cross Country Rankings
2) N.C. State
4) William & Mary
5) North Carolina
9) Wake Forest
10) Appalachian State
11) High Point
12) Virginia Tech
13) UNC Greensboro
15) Norfolk State
USTFCCCA NCAA Division I Southeast Region Women's Cross Country Rankings
2) North Carolina
3) N.C. State
7) James Madison
8) Virginia Tech
9) Wake Forest
11) William & Mary
12) Western Kentucky
15) Appalachian State