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Aghaji Shatters Records at Liberty Twilight
Liberty's Mia Aghaji triple jumped 42-0.5 on Thursday, breaking the school and facility records during the Liberty Twilight Qualifier. Teammates Kevin Reddington and Isaac Wendland each added IC4A qualifiers during the final home meet of the 2011 campaign at the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex at Osborne Stadium.
A sunny, breezy afternoon turned into a calm, pleasant evening, leading to some stellar performances. Four facility records were broken, including Aghaji's women's triple jump mark. The St. Augustine's men's 4 x 100 relay squad of Marquis White, Kelly Fisher, Sean Stuart and Ramon Gittens clocked a facility-record 40.38. Meanwhile, post-collegiate athletes Marcus Robinson (52-8.25 men's triple jump) and Barbara Pierre (11.49 women's 100) also improved upon the previous standards.
Women's Meet Recap
Aghaji, who dominated the women's triple jump competition, saved her best effort for last. Her sixth and final attempt measured 42-0.25, breaking the facility record of 41-9.25, set by Coastal Carolina's Chasity Johnson at the 2007 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championship.
Aghaji also improved upon her own Liberty record of 41-4.25, which she established while winning the Big South title on April 23. Aghaji is now tied for No. 27 nationally in the event.
Three other Lady Flames won their events on Thursday, including a pair in the mid-distance and distance disciplines. Jennifer Klugh took the 1,500 title in 4:35.50, in her first race at that distance since claiming the Big South championship.
In the evening's final race, Khristina Kanagy won the 5K in impressive fashion, crossing the line in 17:40.35. The time set a new personal best by 12 seconds and improves the sophomore to No. 7 in Liberty history.
Liberty also picked up runner-up finishes in both the 800 and steeplechase events. Amanda Wimbush clocked a 2:17.78 in the 800, while Hailey Neal ran 11:10.75 for the steeplechase.
Staying on the track, the 100 hurdles was another strong event for the Lady Flames. Olivia Charnuski raced to a season-best effort of 13.87 for second place, while Rachel Houseknecht's personal-best 14.58 netted seventh place. Houseknecht climbed to No. 9 in program history with her performance.
Houseknecht continued her strong afternoon in the women's pole vault, leading a 5-6-7 finish by the Lady Flames. She vaulted a personal-best 11-7.75, claiming sole possession of fifth place on Liberty's all-time list. Big South champion Shelley Parker followed in sixth place at 11-7.75, while Tami Tolsma equaled her personal-best clearance of 10-8.
The Lady Flames' final event victory was provided by Kristen Willeford, thanks to the freshman's season-best 5-3.75 high jump.
Freshmen Jocelyn Williams and Rachel Barnes made solid showings in the throwing events. After being tabbed Big South Women's Field Athlete of the Week earlier in the day, Williams threw the discus 122-9 for second place. Meanwhile, Barnes came in third in the shot put, reaching 40-2.5 on her best attempt.
Men's Meet Recap
Wendland took the meet's qualifier name seriously in the men's 1,500. He was edged for the victory in the final meters by Appalachian State's Alex Taylor, but Wendland's runner-up time of 3:47.12 met the IC4A standard. A new personal best by nearly five seconds, the time moves Wendland into the No. 3 position in program history.
Wendland also helped pull freshman Jarred Cornfield to a personal-best time of 3:56.33 and fourth place in the event.
Reddington made things dramatic in the men's long jump, waiting until his sixth and final attempt to reach an IC4A-qualifying mark, 23-8.25. The sophomore came in fourth place in one of the day's most competitive events.
Elliot Galeone and David Ricksecker provided Liberty's only two men's event victories on Thursday. Galeone's first javelin throw landed at 224-9, an effort which enabled him to win the title by almost 30 feet. It was Galeone's third straight Liberty Twilight Qualifier javelin crown and fourth championship in the last five seasons.
Ricksecker headlined a 1-2-4 Liberty finish in the 5K with his personal-best time of 14:39.37. Josh MacDonald was the runner-up in a personal-best 14:48.44, while Mark Hopely closed his Liberty career with a fourth-place effort, crossing the line in 15:21.75.
Kolby Shepherd was denied victory in the men's pole vault for just the second time this season, despite going over 17 feet for the fourth straight meet. In a competition which saw three vaulters eclipse the 17-foot barrier, Shepherd topped out at 17-1 for second place.
Anthony Bryant triple jumped 48-11.5 for second place, with Big South champion Chris Johnson following at 48-8.75 in the third position.
Liberty also finished second and third in the men's discus, with Ryan Smith (144-2) taking runner-up honors and freshman Tim Abbott (141-6) coming in third. Abbott also claimed a third-place finish with his 44-7 shot put mark.
Liberty will now prepare for the IC4A and ECAC Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, slated for May 13-15 in Princeton, N.J. The Flames have posted four straight top-two finishes at the IC4A meet, including titles in 2007 and 2008.