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Twilight Qualifier to Close 2011 Home Slate
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Liberty will wrap up its 2011 home track & field schedule with a bang Thursday, welcoming several nationally-ranked teams and notable professional athletes to the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex at Osborne Stadium for the Liberty Twilight Qualifier.
The one-day meet will get started at 1 p.m., with the women's discus and men's shot put. One hour later, trials for the men's 100-meter dash will kick off the action on the track.
How to Follow the Flames
For the first time in meet history, live results for the Liberty Twilight Qualifier will be available on LibertyFlames.com.
Periodic updates will also be provided on the LibertyFlames Twitter account (twitter.com/libertyflames).
Thursday promises to be a pleasant day for a track meet, with sunny skies and a high of 68 degrees in Lynchburg. The day is forecasted to be a bit breezy, but wind should not be nearly as much of a factor as it was at the Liberty Collegiate Invitational.
The Liberty Twilight Qualifier will feature athletes from 24 different colleges, including some distinguished squads. The Virginia Tech men's team is ranked No. 9 nationally. Meanwhile, the St. Augustine's men are No. 2 and the women are No. 13 at the NCAA Division II level.
Appalachian State recently swept the Southern Conference men's and women's team titles, while Lynchburg College captured the ODAC men's and women's crowns.
The meet will also include performers from Big South Conference squads Coastal Carolina, Radford, UNC Asheville and Winthrop.
Prominent Post-Collegiate Entrants
In past years, decorated professional runners like Bershawn "Batman" Jackson and LaShawn Merritt have competed at the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex. This year's edition of the Liberty Twilight Qualifier also has some impressive names dotting the start lists.
Rachelle Smith is entered in the women's 100 and 200-meter dash events. She owns personal-best times of 11.17 in the 100 and 22.22 in the 200. In 2005, Smith was the World Championships silver medalist at 200 meters.
Tanko Braimah, entered in the men's 100 and 200-meter dashes, represented Ghana at both the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics.
Jamaal Torrance, the top seed in the men's 400-meter dash, owns a personal-best clocking of 44.80 seconds. He has won a pair of gold medals at the World Indoor Championships on the USA's 4 x 400 relay squad.
Anwar Moore will run his specialty event, the 110 hurdles, where he owns a 13.12 personal best. Moore ranked among the world's top five hurdlers in both 2007 and 2008.
Of local interest, Donnie Cowart is entered in the men's 800-meter run on Thursday, just four days after running an impressive steeplechase race at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in Stanford, Calif. Cowart, a graduate of Rustburg High School and VMI, placed fifth with his personal-best time of 8:31.09, earning a "B" qualifier for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Recent Liberty graduates Clendon Henderson, Josh Edmonds and Rebekah Ricksecker are all slated to compete as well. Henderson, a Liberty assistant coach, will attempt to win the men's discus competition at this meet for the fifth time in the last six years. Meanwhile, Edmonds and Ricksecker are among the favorites in the men's and women's 5K races.
What's in a Name?
Thursday's meet is appropriately named a "Qualifier," as numerous Liberty athletes will be attempting to qualify for the IC4A, ECAC and NCAA Preliminary Round meets. The meet will be the Flames and Lady Flames' final opportunity to punch their tickets for the IC4A and ECAC Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, slated for May 13-15 in Princeton, N.J.
Some of Liberty's competitors aiming to notch last-chance IC4A/ECAC qualifiers include Hailey Neal (women's steeplechase), Melanie Sims (women's 400 hurdles), Jacey Bailey (men's 100 and 200) and Isaac Wendland (men's 1,500).
Wendland took part in the best race at last year's Liberty Twilight Qualifier, the men's 800. He placed fifth with a personal-best time of 1:50.22, in a field which included three NCAA national qualifiers.
Other Flames and Lady Flames who are safely in the IC4A and ECAC meets will look to improve their chances at NCAA Preliminary Round qualification. Some of Liberty's athletes in this situation on Thursday include Jennifer Klugh (women's 1,500), Olivia Charnuski (women's 100 hurdles), Shelley Parker (women's pole vault), Taylor Courtney (men's 400 hurdles), Anthony Bryant (men's long jump and triple jump) and Chris Johnson (men's triple jump).
Charnuski provided one of the most memorable moments at the 2010 Liberty Twilight Qualifier, breaking a long-standing school record with her 13.65 clocking in the 100 hurdles. The recently crowned Big South 100 hurdles champion will hope for a similar effort Thursday.
10 Events You Won't Want to Miss
Listed in chronological order
2 p.m. – Men's Pole Vault – Liberty's Kolby Shepherd has won five of his six pole vault competitions this season and enters as the defending Liberty Twilight Qualifier champion. However, he will have his hands full on Thursday, as he matches up against Virginia Tech's talented trio of Joe Davis, Hunter Hall and Jared Jodon. Hall has cleared 17-8.5 this season and tied for sixth place at the 2011 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. Jodon, who has vaulted 17-2.75 this year, was the 2009 Liberty Twilight Qualifier champion.
2:50 p.m. – Men's 100 Final – Always a highlight of the Liberty Twilight Qualifier, the men's 100-meter dash should be one to watch again this year. The 2009 (Dennis Boone of G.W. Express) and 2010 (Ramon Gittens of St. Augustine's) champions are entered. Tanko Braimah, a two-time Olympian for Ghana, is also in the field. Seven sprinters boast seed times of 10.49 or faster.
3:05 p.m. – Men's 110 Hurdles Final – Anwar Moore's impressive credentials have been discussed above. He could give chase to the facility record of 13.72 seconds. His competitors include a current Winthrop standout (reigning Big South 110 hurdles champion Keary Simms) and a former Winthrop great (three-time Big South 110 hurdles champion Kandrick Cooper). Also in the field is Jason Boyd of St. Augustine's, the defending NCAA Division II national champion in this event.
3:15 p.m. – Women's 100 Hurdles Final – As mentioned above, Olivia Charnuski will be attempting to recapture the magic which saw her clock 13.65 seconds for the 100 hurdles at the 2010 Liberty Twilight Qualifier. This race will feature the Big South's best hurdlers, including the conference champion (Charnuski), runner-up (Winthrop's Sharrone Honor) and third-place finisher (Radford's Courtni Pannell). Radford's Amber Church, the reigning Big South 60 hurdles champion, is also entered. Virginia Tech freshman Kristen Brown, an ACC finalist, could also contend.
4 p.m. – Women's Hammer – Amber Campbell's women's hammer facility record of 198-6 will likely be in jeopardy on Thursday. Virginia Tech's Dorotea Habazin was the NCAA national runner-up in 2010. Recently, she threw 224-3 to capture the ACC women's hammer title. Liberty's Melinda Bendik, who is redshirting this season, boosted her personal best to 198-3 last week at the Radford Invitational. Speaking of Radford, the Highlanders' Aimee Veatch is the three-time defending Big South women's hammer champion. Habazin, Bendik and Veatch will all square off at the Campus East throwing facility.
4:30 p.m. (approximately) – Women's Pole Vault – As in the men's pole vault, Liberty's top women's vaulter (Big South champion Shelley Parker) will face a talented group of Virginia Tech pole vaulters. Kelly Phillips leads the way for the Hokies. She won this event at last year's Liberty Twilight Qualifier and tied for ninth at the 2011 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. Phillips sailed over a personal-best 14-1.25 during the 2011 indoor campaign. Meanwhile, Parker will be looking to improve upon her current best clearance of 12-7.5.
5:25 p.m. – Women's Steeplechase – The women's steeplechase will match up the second (UNC Asheville's Emma Bussard) and third-place (Liberty's Hailey Neal) finishers from the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Neal will be chasing the ECAC qualifying standard of 10:50.24, which would also break the facility record of 10:52.06. Neal is coming off of a personal-best 4:33.13 clocking in the 1,500 at Radford last weekend.
5:30 p.m. (approximately) – Men's Triple Jump – The men's triple jump will provide an interesting duel between Liberty and Virginia Tech. The Flames' Chris Johnson was a surprise triple jump champion at the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships, while Bryant stretched out to 50-2.75 in winning the Liberty Collegiate Invitational triple jump earlier this year. Meanwhile, Hokies Hasheem Halim and David Wilson finished 1-2 in the ACC triple jump competition. Bryant won this event in 2009, while Wilson, who also plays football for the Hokies, took the 2010 Liberty Twilight Qualifier title.
6:20 p.m. – Women's 400 – Winthrop's Sasha Robinson has been running well this season and claimed the Big South women's 400-meter title. She will be challenged by the St. Augustine's duo of Nicketa Bernard and Sheena Johns. Meanwhile, Liberty freshman Kiara Bridges will look to improve upon her season-best time of 57.58 seconds.
7:40 p.m. – Men's 5K – This race will have a very strong Liberty flavor. Big South indoor 5K champion Josh Edmonds will run his first post-collegiate track race. He should help set a strong pace for the Flames' Mark Hopely, Josh MacDonald and David Ricksecker. Ngetich Kipchirchir, redshirting his first season at Liberty, will also be making his collegiate track debut. One runner who could spoil the Flames' plans in the 5K is Milligan's Austin Ellis, an NAIA All-American in the 5K and 10K.
2011 Liberty Twilight Qualifier Schedule
1 p.m. – Discus (Women followed by Men)
1 p.m. – Shot Put (Men followed by Women)
2 p.m. – Pole Vault (Men followed by Women)
2 p.m. – Long Jump (Women followed by Men)
Triple Jump to follow Long Jump (Women followed by Men)
4 p.m. – Hammer (Women followed by Men)
5 p.m. – High Jump (Men followed by Women)
5:30 p.m. – Javelin (Women followed by Men)
2 p.m. – 100-Meter Dash Trials (Men followed by Women)
2:20 p.m. – Women's 100-Meter Hurdles Trials
2:35 p.m. – Men's 110-Meter Hurdles Trials
2:50 p.m. – 100-Meter Dash Finals (Men followed by Women)
3:05 p.m. – Men's 110-Meter Hurdles Finals
3:15 p.m. – Women's 100-Meter Hurdles Finals
3:30 p.m. – 200-Meter Dash (Men followed by Women)
5:15 p.m. – 3,000-Meter Steeplechase (Men followed by Women)
5:40 p.m. – 4 x 100 Relay (Men followed by Women)
5:50 p.m. – 1,500-Meter Run (Men followed by Women)
6:10 p.m. – 400-Meter Dash (Men followed by Women)
6:30 p.m. – 800-Meter Run (Men followed by Women)
6:55 p.m. – 400-Meter Hurdles (Men followed by Women)
7:20 p.m. – 4 x 400 Relay (Men followed by Women)
7:40 p.m. – 5,000-Meter Run (Men followed by Women)