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Flames Head to Virginia for Final BSC Tune-up
With an eye on the Big South Cross Country Championships at the end of the month, the Liberty men's and women's cross country teams will compete in Friday's Panorama Farms Invitational in Charlottesville, Va.
The meet, which will serve as the Flames and Lady Flames' last tune-up for the Big South Championships, will begin with the men's 8K race at 4 p.m. The women's 6K race will follow soon thereafter at 4:45 p.m.
Women's Tentative Lineup
Mary Cate Cooper
Men's Tentative Lineup
The temperature in Charlottesville (mid to upper 60s as a high temperature) should be pleasant for distance running on Friday. However, there is a chance of scattered thunderstorms throughout the day. That could add to the already soggy terrain, after Central Virginia has received a significant amount of rainfall throughout the week.
Scouting the Competition
Liberty will not face any conference competitors in the final meet before the Big South Championships. However, the Flames and Lady Flames will both square off against a number of teams who are ranked within the Southeast Region.
The Liberty men's squad, currently ranked No. 10 regionally, will meet No. 5 Duke, No. 6 Virginia, No. 11 UNC Greensboro, No. 12 Kentucky and No. 15 Richmond from the Southeast Region. In addition, the Georgetown men's squad, ranked No. 2 in the Mid-Atlantic Region and No. 16 in the nation, is scheduled to compete.
Meanwhile, the Lady Flames' Friday opponents are highlighted by host Virginia, which is listed No. 2 regionally and No. 16 nationally. Other teams slated to run at the Panorama Farms Invitational include regionally-ranked East Carolina (No. 9), Richmond (No. 12) and UNC Greensboro (No. 15), as well as North Florida (No. 4 in the South Region).
Liberty men's runners have finished first at each of this season's three meets. Josh MacDonald took top honors at the season-opening Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational on Sept. 2 and Zac Edwards won back-to-back individual titles at the Coastal Carolina Invitational/Big South Preview (Sept. 17) and Charlotte Invitational (Sept. 30). 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 45 of its last 46 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.
Liberty's streak will likely be put to the test Friday, with Edwards expected to sit out the race to rest up for the upcoming Big South Championships and NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships. As a result, MacDonald and David Ricksecker will have the Flames' best chance at placing in the top two at the Panorama Farms Invitational.
Recapping a Record
Jennifer Klugh took down a long-standing program record during her last race, Sept. 30 at the Charlotte Invitational. The redshirt junior covered the 5K course in a time of 17:28.3, breaking Lori Lingenfelter's school record of 17:35, set on Aug. 26, 1987. That was almost exactly three years before Klugh was born.
Klugh now owns both of Liberty's women's cross country records. She lowered the program 6K standard twice last season, dropping the mark to 20:55.5 at the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships on Nov. 13, 2010 in Louisville, Ky.
Going the Extra Kilometer
The Liberty women's runners will compete in a 6K race Friday for the first time this season, after running one 4K and a pair of 5Ks. For more than half of the Lady Flames, it will be the first time they have run a 6K cross country race in college. The list includes Jacy Christiansen, Mary Cate Cooper, Lyndi Fielitz, Meredith Mistretta, Hillary Morris, Caroline Parris and Caitlin Spinks.
On the other hand, Jennifer Klugh should welcome the return to the 6K distance. In her most recent 6K race, the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships on Nov. 13, 2010, Klugh broke her own school record with a 20:55.5 clocking. She also earned all-region honors with her 15th-place finish. The next time Klugh races a 6K after Friday will be this year's NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships, slated for Nov. 12 in Louisville, Ky.
Hill City Climbers
Lynchburg is appropriately known as the Hill City, giving the Flames and Lady Flames have the opportunity to train on hilly terrain quite often. However, most of this year's meets are being contested on flat courses. Friday's meet will be an exception, with the course at Panorama Farms being known as one of the more hilly and challenging venues in the region.
Current Liberty assistant coach Josh McDougal set the men's 8K course record at Panorama Farms on Sept. 9, 2006, clocking a winning time of 24:14 at the Lou Onesty Invitational. The mark has since been lowered to 23:16.1, by Virginia's Emil Heineking on Oct. 16, 2009.
See You Soon
A number of Liberty runners will return to Panorama Farms in three weeks to compete in the Cavalier Open, Nov. 4 beginning at 4 p.m. For the third straight season, head coach Brant Tolsma will enter primarily runners who will not be competing at the following week's NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships.