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Liberty XC Bound for Charlotte on Friday
After nearly two weeks away from competition, the Liberty men's and women's cross country teams will return to action Friday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C. The Flames and Lady Flames will compete in the Charlotte Invitational at McAlpine Park.
Liberty's first-ever Charlotte Invitational appearance will begin Friday at 4 p.m. with the women's 5K race. The men's 8K will follow at 4:45 p.m. on the flat, traditionally fast course.
Women's Tentative Lineup
Mary Cate Cooper
Men's Tentative Lineup
Cooler weather is supposed to arrive in the Southeast over the weekend, but it will still be warm Friday afternoon. Charlotte's weather forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s while the races are taking place.
Scouting the Competition
The Liberty women's squad will battle tough competition on Friday, from both the Big South Conference and the Southeast Region. The Lady Flames will get another opportunity to match up with Big South newcomer Campbell, who defeated the Lady Flames at the Coastal Carolina Invitational/Big South Preview on Sept. 17.
Meanwhile, the Lady Flames will face a trio of teams ranked within the Southeast Region, including No. 5 Virginia Tech, No. 9 Wake Forest and No. 11 Furman. Liberty enters the meet listed No. 15 in the Southeast Region.
On the men's side, Liberty may have an opportunity to rejoin the Southeast Region rankings next week with a strong showing on Friday. The Flames will meet Virginia Tech (No. 6 in the Southeast), Wake Forest (No. 11 in the Southeast) and Georgia Tech (No. 10 in the South).
Liberty men's runners have finished first at each of this season's two meets. Josh MacDonald took top honors at the season-opening Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational on Sept. 2 and Zac Edwards won the individual crown at the Sept. 17 Coastal Carolina Invitational/Big South Preview. Their efforts have extended the program's lengthy string of individual success.
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 44 of its last 45 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.
Recipe for a Record?
A long-standing school record could come under siege during Friday's women's 5K if Liberty redshirt junior Jennifer Klugh runs a great race. Lori Lingenfelter has held the Liberty women's cross country 5K record time of 17:35 since Aug. 26, 1987, when she set it at the Tar Heel Invite in Carrboro, N.C. Klugh was not even born yet when Lingenfelter crossed the finish line that day.
Here are some factors which could add up to a record performance on Friday:
-- Klugh already owns the Liberty cross country 6K record (20:55.5), as well as the program's indoor track 5K mark (16:56.14).
-- The course at McAlpine Park is traditionally one of the fastest venues in the region.
-- Last year, six women's runners clocked 5K times faster than 17:35 at the Charlotte Invitational.
-- Klugh went on to defeat three of those runners at the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships later in the season.
Redshirt sophomore Cory Reed is tentatively scheduled to make his 2011 cross country season debut on Friday. If he does compete, it will be Reed's first collegiate cross country race since Nov. 10, 2007, when he closed out his freshman season at the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships.
Reed took a hiatus from college between 2008-11 to enlist in the United States Army, before returning to Liberty this fall. He is the only current Liberty runner who was once a teammate of assistant coach Josh McDougal. Reed was a freshman in 2007, when McDougal was a senior and captured the NCAA Division I national cross country title.
Welcome Back, Part Two
Friday's race will mark a homecoming for Liberty junior Alyssa Allen. Not only is she a native of Charlotte, but she also spent her first two years of college competing for the Charlotte 49ers. Thus, Allen should be quite familiar with the course at McAlpine Park.