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Liberty XC Set for Big South Preview
Six weeks before the 2011 Big South Cross Country Championships, Liberty will have an opportunity to preview the championship course at Coastal Carolina's Quail Creek Golf Club. The Flames and Lady Flames will travel to Conway, S.C., Saturday for the Coastal Carolina Invitational/Big South Preview.
The meet, which is expected to feature six Big South men's and women's squads, the No. 8 Duke women's team and several other non-conference teams, will get started with the men's 8K race at 8:30 a.m. The women's 5K will follow at 9:15 a.m.
Women's Tentative Lineup
Men's Tentative Lineup
The weather should be pretty pleasant for distance running Saturday morning. The current forecast calls for temperatures in the low 60s and a chance of rain showers.
Scouting the Competition
With Saturday's meet serving as the Big South Preview, most of the conference teams are entered. The list of Big South squads competing in Conway includes Campbell, host Coastal Carolina, High Point, Liberty, Presbyterian College and Radford.
Duke's women's team, ranked No. 8 nationally, highlights the non-conference entrants. The Blue Devils are favored to win the women's team title on Saturday, with Coastal Carolina, High Point and Liberty battling for second place.
On the men's side, Big South preseason favorite High Point and six-time defending conference champion Liberty will match up for the first time this season.
A Look Back at Last Year
Liberty is competing in the Coastal Carolina Invitational for the second straight year, after faring well in 2010. The men's squad captured the team championship, led by a first-place finish and course-record performance by Evans Kigen. Isaac Wendland is the Flames' top returnee from that race, where he placed seventh.
Meanwhile, Hailey Neal's runner-up finish helped the Lady Flames place third at the 2010 Coastal Carolina Invitational. Betel Yosef finished 18th in that race, making her the highest placer among the current Lady Flames.
The Liberty women's squad will be bolstered by the trio of Jennifer Klugh, Khristina Kanagy and Meredith Mistretta on Saturday. Klugh and Kanagy will be making their 2011 season debuts, while Mistretta will be running her first collegiate race.
Klugh and Kanagy are the Lady Flames' top returnees from the 2010 campaign, which saw Klugh win the Big South individual title and Kanagy place 12th at the conference meet. Meanwhile, Mistretta is one of Liberty's most promising freshmen, hailing from Durham, N.H.
Freshman Jacy Christiansen began her collegiate cross country career in style at the Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational on Sept. 2. She placed fourth overall and first among the Lady Flames, covering the 4K course in 15:43.13.
Christiansen is the first Liberty freshman since Jennifer Klugh in 2009 to serve as the Lady Flames' No. 1 runner in her first race. Klugh teamed up with Katie Albright for a fourth-place finish at the Virginia Tech Cross Country Relays on Sept. 4, 2009, with Klugh's two relay legs adding up to a team-best 18:41.3.
Following in Coach's Footsteps
Josh MacDonald started his sophomore season with his first career individual cross country victory, Sept. 2 at the Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational. He ran the 6K in 19:26.94, edging teammate Zac Edwards for first-place honors.
Likewise, Liberty assistant coach Josh McDougal also picked up his first collegiate cross country win at Virginia Tech, taking home the title at the Festival in the Fields meet on Sept. 4, 2004. McDougal went on to win 22 more college races during his four years at Liberty, culminating with the 2007 NCAA national championship.
The Liberty duo of Josh MacDonald and Zac Edwards swept the top two places at the Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational on Sept. 2, continuing an impressive streak by the Liberty men's cross country team.
Other than the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships and meets where the Flames fielded a "B" team, Liberty has now recorded a first or second-place individual finish in 43 of its last 44 meets. The only exception was the Virginia Tech Cross Country Relays on Sept. 4, 2009, where Liberty's top duo (David Ricksecker and Will Reeves) placed fifth.
The streak dates back to the start of the 2004 season, which was Josh McDougal's freshman campaign. McDougal also initiated Liberty's impressive streak of four straight top-two individual finishes at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, with his victory in 2007. Since then, Sam Chelanga was the 2008 national runner-up and captured the 2009 and 2010 national championships.