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Liberty XC to Wrap Up Season at ECAC/IC4A
View the ECAC/IC4A Meet Program
Saturday afternoon on Long Island, the Liberty football team will play one of the most important games in program history, battling Stony Brook for the Big South Conference title. Several hours earlier, the Liberty men's and women's cross country teams will compete about 50 miles west of LaValle Stadium, at the season-ending 2011 IC4A and ECAC Division I Cross Country Championships in the Bronx.
Liberty's first appearance at this meet in recent history will begin with the IC4A men's 5-mile championship race at 10:30 a.m. The ECAC women's 5K championship will follow at 11:15. Both races will be contested at Van Cortlandt Park.
Women's Tentative Lineup
Men's Tentative Lineup
Saturday should be a pretty pleasant day for distance running in New York City, with a high of 52 degrees under mostly sunny skies.
The cross country course at Van Cortlandt Park is one of the most prominent courses in the Northeast. It annually hosts the IC4A/ECAC meet and has also been the site of the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships twice, in 1968 and 1969.
Former Liberty standout Sam Chelanga ran the first race of his collegiate career at Van Cortlandt Park, winning the 2006 Iona Meet of Champions title while representing Fairleigh Dickinson.
Additionally, Liberty assistant coach Josh McDougal clocked a 15:08 5K at Van Cortlandt Park as a high school senior, breaking a 22-year-old course record.
What Do All of These Letters Stand For?
The acronym ECAC is short for Eastern College Athletic Conference. According to the ECAC website, it "is the nation's largest athletic conference and only multi-divisional conference, with approximately 300 member institutions ranging across 16 states from Maine to North Carolina and westerly to Illinois." Saturday's women's meet is officially titled the ECAC Division I Cross Country Championship.
Meanwhile, the concurrent men's meet is called the IC4A Cross Country Championship. IC4A stands for Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America, and the name is only applied to the ECAC's Division I men's championships in cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field.
Scouting the Field
With the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships set for Monday, some of the top IC4A and ECAC teams and individuals will not compete at Saturday's meet. Additionally, three-time defending IC4A champion Duke is not entered this year. So, it is difficult to forecast Saturday's races.
The IC4A field features 18 men's teams, at least five of whom (Columbia, Georgetown, Iona, Princeton and Syracuse) have qualified for the NCAA meet and will run "B" squads on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the ECAC meet will include 13 teams, highlighted by defending champion James Madison. Georgetown, Syracuse and Villanova will all use "B" teams, while Columbia, Iona, Navy and Princeton will all be missing top individuals on Saturday. That should make for a wide-open competition.
All in the Family
The defending ECAC individual champion is Alison Parris, who graduated from James Madison last year. Her younger sister, Caroline Parris, is a freshman on Liberty's team this season. However, Caroline is not entered in Saturday's meet.
While the IC4A and ECAC Division I Cross Country Championships will be a new experience for all of the Liberty runners, a few of the Flames and Lady Flames have been successful at IC4A and ECAC track & field events.
Isaac Wendland was the IC4A indoor runner-up at 1,000 meters last season, setting the school record at 2:24.74 in the process. Competing across town the same weekend, Jennifer Klugh placed third in the ECAC mile final, running a time of 4:51.04.
Two of a Kind?
Liberty's Zac Edwards should be among the top individuals in Saturday's IC4A race, while Lady Flame Jennifer Klugh could be near of the ECAC pack. The two runners, both redshirt juniors, have enjoyed similarly successful 2011 seasons thus far.
Edwards was the Big South men's individual champion by 18 seconds, while Klugh won the Big South women's race by 17 seconds.
Both runners earned all-region recognition at the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships. Edwards' award came as a result of a 23rd-place finish, while Klugh came in 20th.
Additionally, Edwards and Klugh each won a pair of Big South Runner of the Week awards this season.
The start of the 2011-12 indoor track & field season is just two weeks away, as the Liberty Kickoff will be contested Dec. 2-3 inside the Tolsma Indoor Track Center. Some of Liberty's distance runners who compete Saturday at Van Cortlandt Park are expected to come right back and race in the track season opener.