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Shepherd, Smith Highlight Day 2 of Hokie Invite

January 21, 2012
|  Blacksburg, Va.
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Ryan Smith won the Hokie Invitational men's shot put title on Saturday, thanks to a season-best mark of 57-7.

Liberty redshirt senior Kolby Shepherd pole vaulted 17-1 and redshirt junior Ryan Smith won the men's shot put title, leading the way for the Flames on day two of the Hokie Invitational, Saturday at Virginia Tech's Rector Field House.

Isaac Wendland also starred on the meet's final day, qualifying for the IC4A meet with his 1,000-meter time of 2:28.96. Additionally, the Lady Flames' quartet of Jacy Christiansen, Mia Aghaji, Meghan Burggraf and Jennifer Klugh hit the ECAC qualifying standard with an 11:58.50 clocking in the distance medley relay. Their efforts brought the total up to six new IC4A/ECAC qualifying performances on the week, which also included Wednesday's Hornet Sprints, Jumps and Throws Challenge at Lynchburg College.

Men's Meet Recap
Shepherd stepped into Rector Field House with fond memories of the facility, which will also host the 2012 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships next month. At last season's Hokie Invitational, Shepherd won the men's pole vault title with a career-best 17-7.25 leap while redshirting.

This time around, Shepherd got over 17-1 on his third attempt to finish third overall and second among collegiate athletes. It was the Georgia native's first time breaking the 17-foot barrier indoors in a Liberty uniform, and he joins Ken Howell and Todd Pettyjohn as the only Flames ever to do so.

Cody Fridgen also pole vaulted on Saturday, ending up in 10th place with a season-best 15-1.5 clearance. With Jon Drablos sailing over 15-1 the previous night, it gave Liberty a trio of 15-foot vaulters at the same meet.

Like Shepherd, Smith also built upon a strong performance from the 2011 Hokie Invitational, where he had finished second overall in the men's shot put final, but first among collegiate entrants. On Saturday, he won the event outright with a season-best 57-7 put, giving Smith a six-inch cushion over highly-touted Virginia freshman Nick Vena.

Smith, who remains undefeated in three shot put competitions this season, enjoyed a consistent series. All four of his legal throws landed at 17 meters (55-9.25) or longer.

Running the 1,000-meter event for the first time since placing as the 2011 IC4A runner-up, Wendland came in fourth in Saturday's race with his 2:28.96 clocking.

Wendland's cross country teammates Caleb Edmonds, Josh MacDonald and David Ricksecker finished second, third and fourth, respectively, in the men's 5K. Edmonds (14:49.30) and MacDonald (14:55.63) each dipped under the 15-minute barrier in season-best clockings for both runners.

Kyle Gill flirted with the IC4A 400-meter dash standard of 49.20 seconds but settled for a sixth-place finish in a season-best time of 49.40.

Kevin Reddington came in seventh in the men's long jump final, with his best leap of 22-11 falling just one inch shy of his top effort in 2011-12.

Women's Meet Recap
Klugh had just set the Liberty 3K school record Friday evening and hoped to stamp her name in the program's record book one more time on Saturday in the distance medley relay. Liberty's relay grouping of Christiansen, Aghaji, Burggraf and Klugh did not quite match the record time of 11:52.36, but they did finish second to Duke with a solid 11:58.50.

The ECAC-qualifying mark places this Liberty quartet at No. 3 in program history for the distance medley relay with the fastest time by the Lady Flames since 2001.

Like Shepherd in the men's pole vault, Parker achieved a notable milestone during Saturday's women's pole vault competition. The junior tied for 10th with an indoor personal-best clearance of 12-0. Parker joins Andrea Wildrick and Aimee Riley as the only Lady Flames ever to vault 12-0 or higher indoors.

Liberty's trio of women's shot putters swept three of the top six positions on Saturday, led by Emily Woods' runner-up effort. Woods reached 44-2.75 on her best throw, adding three-quarters of an inch to her personal best mark set three days earlier at the Hornet Sprints, Jumps and Throws Challenge.

Jocelyn Williams complemented her third-place weight throw finish from Friday with fourth place in the shot put, thanks to a mark of 39-9.25. Mychelle Cumings ended up sixth at 39-5.75.

Alyssa Allen posted a time of 19:17.50 to place fifth in the day's first event, the women's 5K.

High jumping for the first time this season, Aghaji tied for eighth place with a successful clearance at 5-4.25.

Liberty will return to the Tolsma Indoor Track Center for the second of three home meets on the 2011-12 indoor season schedule, the Liberty Open. The two-day event is slated to begin Friday at 2 p.m. with the pentathlon 60-meter hurdles.