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Strong Field Events to Highlight Liberty Open
Liberty is preparing for its second home meet of the 2011-12 indoor track & field season, the Liberty Open, which will take place Friday and Saturday inside the Tolsma Indoor Track Center.
Action will get under way Friday at 1:30 p.m. with the start of the heptathlon 60-meter dash. Saturday's opening event will be the men's weight throw, set for a 9 a.m. start time.
Athletes from 22 different universities are entered in the meet, highlighted by Big South squads Campbell, Radford and Winthrop. As a result, the Liberty Open will have a strong conference flavor just four weeks before the 2012 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships are scheduled to begin.
The Liberty Open will also feature numerous post-collegiate competitors, including several hopefuls for the 2012 Hong Kong Olympic team.
This weekend's meet will provide Flames fans with their final opportunity to see the full Liberty men's and women's squads in action during the indoor season. Some Flames and Lady Flames will travel to Boston for the Valentine Invitational on Feb. 10-11 and will miss the Liberty Quad meet as a result.
10 Events You Won't Want to Miss
Listed in chronological order
Friday, 5:45 p.m. – Women's weight throw – Six of the top nine athletes on the current Big South women's weight throw performance list will be in action Friday afternoon. The list of entrants includes the Liberty trio of Jocelyn Williams (No. 1 in the Big South), Melinda Bendik (No. 2) and Mychelle Cumings (No. 7); Radford's Aimee Veatch (No. 3) and Sharee Fitzgerald (No. 9) and Winthrop's Cynthia Gordon (No. 6). Williams broke the Liberty school record with a 56-8.5 mark during the Lady Flames' last home meet, the Liberty Kickoff. Veatch, the 2009 Liberty Open women's weight throw champion, captured Big South titles in this event in both 2009 and 2010.
Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – Women's triple jump – Liberty's Mia Aghaji will aim for her third Liberty Open women's triple jump championship, after winning in 2009 and 2011. Also the reigning Big South women's indoor and outdoor triple jump champion, Aghaji will be challenged by freshman teammate Melissa Rohwer and Charlotte's Briauna Jones. Rohwer has posted a leap of 38-5.5 during the early stages of her collegiate career, while Jones was the 2011 Atlantic-10 outdoor triple jump runner-up.
Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – Men's long jump – Liberty's duo of Aaron Johnson and Kevin Reddington will be aiming for the IC4A qualifying standard of 23-0.5 in the men's long jump and will have plenty of competition along the way. Marlon Woods, who split his collegiate career between Norfolk State and Florida State, is a past NCAA national qualifier in the event. Methodist's Lincoln Carr jumped 23-6.75 in his season debut, while Charlotte's Elias Still finished fourth in the 2011 Atlantic-10 men's long jump competition outdoors. Oronde Vassell, who long jumped 24-5.5 as a Liberty senior in 2010, will also compete on Saturday.
Saturday, Noon – Men's shot put – Liberty redshirt junior Ryan Smith, who won the 2010 Liberty Open men's shot put crown, is undefeated in his first three shot put competitions of the 2011-12 indoor campaign. He tops the Big South Conference performance list, and the conference's No. 2 (Radford's Justin Smith), No. 3 (Liberty's David Scouten) and No. 5 (Liberty's Tim Abbott) men's shot putters will also be in action at the Liberty Open.
Saturday, 12:20 p.m. – Women's 60-meter dash final – Alyssa Pegues, the Lady Flames' top veteran sprinter, is slated to make her senior season debut. She will be joined by freshman teammates Meme Layne and Abigail Flower, who have each run 60-meter dash times of 7.81 seconds or faster this year. Methodist's Ashlynn Chavis is also in the field, coming off of a 2011 outdoor season which saw her claim the NCAA Division III national title at 100 meters.
Saturday, 12:30 p.m. – Women's high jump – At this point in the season, Liberty's Marianne Wheeler and Kristen Willeford are the Big South Conference co-leaders in the women's high jump, at 5-5. On Saturday, they will face one of their top conference competitors, Nikki Roseberry of Radford. Last season, Roseberry placed third at the Big South outdoor meet in the women's high jump and qualified for the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet.
Saturday, 12:35 p.m. – Women's 60-meter hurdles final – Liberty senior Olivia Charnuski will look to close her collegiate career as a four-time Liberty Open champion in the women's 60-meter hurdles, after crossing the finish line first in 2009, 2010 and 2011. She will face Winthrop's Sharrone Honor, who placed second to Charnuski in the 2011 Big South outdoor 100-meter hurdles final. Other top contenders include former Nebraska standout Arna Erega and former Clemson hurdler Annimari Korte.
Saturday, 2:30 p.m. – Men's pole vault – Like Olivia Charnuski in the women's 60-meter hurdles, Liberty's Kolby Shepherd will attempt to win his fourth Liberty Open championship in the men's pole vault. Shepherd is coming off of a strong performance at the Hokie Invitational, where he sailed over 17-1. Teammates Cody Fridgen and Jon Drablos will also look to build upon their success at the Hokie Invitational, as each broke the 15-foot barrier for the first time this season. George Mason's Patrick Dietrick, the 2011 CAA men's pole vault runner-up, is also entered.
Saturday, 2:35 p.m. – Men's 800 – Liberty will enter a trio of freshmen in the men's 800—Chris Boyd, Trevor Hope and John Sherret. They will battle some of the Big South's top 800-meter runners, highlighted by conference leader Adam Leroux of Winthrop. Campbell's Chris Schulist (No. 4 in the Big South) and Radford's Jake Zimmerman (No. 6) will also compete on Saturday, as will Winston-Salem State's Andrew Chebii, who won this event at the Liberty Kickoff in December.
Saturday, 3 p.m. – Men's high jump – Liberty freshman Kyle Wheeler, who high jumped 7-0 in high school last season, will compete in his specialty event at the Tolsma Indoor Track Center for the first time. He is part of a talented field of competitors, which includes Ho Fung Lam, Christopher Newport's Richard Roethel and Winthrop's Dexter Young. Lam is one of the previously mentioned Hong Kong Olympic hopefuls who will take part in the Liberty Open. Roethel placed fourth in the NCAA Division III decathlon last season, while Young came in fourth in the men's high jump at the 2011 Big South indoor and outdoor championships.