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Liberty Readies for Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup
For the fifth consecutive season, the Liberty men's and women's indoor track & field teams will travel to Penn State for the Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup. The team-scored meet, which has become an annual highlight of the Flames' indoor schedule, will be contested Saturday at Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track in University Park, Pa.
The field of 14 men's teams and 16 women's teams will get things started at 9 a.m., with the men's weight throw and the women's pentathlon 60-meter hurdles. Running events will commence with the men's 5K final at noon.
How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results will be available throughout the Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup, with links accessible on GoPSUSports.com and LibertyFlames.com.
Scouting the Competition
The Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup, Liberty's first team-scored meet of the 2011-12 indoor track & field season, will give the Flames and Lady Flames a look at some of their top conference competitors.
Three weeks away from the 2012 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships, the Lady Flames will square off with long-time rival Coastal Carolina for the first time this season. Last year, the Chanticleers finished eighth at this meet, while the Lady Flames came in ninth. However, Liberty came back to defeat Coastal Carolina at the Big South indoor meet several weeks later.
Last season, the Liberty men's squad tied for second place at the 2011 IC4A Indoor Track & Field Championships, trailing only Connecticut, which is entered in Saturday's meet. The field also includes reigning ECAC indoor runner-up Cornell and the Princeton men's and women's squads which captured the Ivy League's first-ever "Double Triple" in 2010-11.
In four previous appearances at the Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup, the Liberty men's team's best finish is third place in 2009. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames have recorded a trio of ninth-place finishes, in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
Two of Liberty's existing program records were set at this meet. In 2009, Anthony Bryant equaled the men's indoor high jump mark with a leap of 7-1.5. The following year, Jaime Watson set the program standard for the women's 600-meter run, clocking a hand-timed 1:28.2.
A pair of current Flames are past Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup individual champions. Ryan Smith won the men's weight throw title a year ago, while Kolby Shepherd captured back-to-back men's pole vault crowns in 2009 and 2010 before redshirting the 2011 campaign.
Center of Attention
Penn State is publicizing an "invitational" section of the men's shot put on Saturday, which will feature U.S. Olympic hopeful Ryan Whiting, a six-time NCAA national champion at Arizona State. However, the Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup men's shot put competition bears watching as well.
Liberty's Ryan Smith has won each of his four shot put competitions so far this season and ranks No. 31 nationally at 58-4.75. He has positive memories of the Penn State facility, after winning the Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup men's weight throw championship a year ago.
Smith's challengers on Saturday could include Buffalo's Robert Golabek, ranked No. 6 in the nation at 63-2.25; Cornell's Stephen Mozia, who sits No. 20 nationally at 59-9 and Penn State's Logan Caldwell, who ranks No. 37 at 58-0.5.
As mentioned previously, both Anthony Bryant and Jaime Watson have set program records at the Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup in recent years. A few other Liberty marks could be challenged on Saturday. The list includes the following events:
Men's Pole Vault
Current Record: 17-5 (5.30m) – Ken Howell, March 6, 1999
Challenger: Kolby Shepherd, with a season-best of 17-1 (5.21m)
Women's Triple Jump
Current Record: 40-7.75 (12.39m) – Jonisha Saunders, March 1, 2003
Challenger: Mia Aghaji, with a season-best of 40-2 (12.24m)
Women's Shot Put
Current Record: 47-5.25 (14.46m) – Mychelle Cumings, Jan. 28, 2012
Challenger: Cumings herself
Seeking Out Their Specialties
Several of Liberty's top runners will be competing in their specialty events for the first time this season on Saturday. Taylor Courtney is entered in the men's 400, with Isaac Wendland set to run the men's 800. On the women's side, Meghan Burggraf is entered in the 800, with Jennifer Klugh slated to run the mile.
Courtney, Burggraf and Klugh are all the defending Big South champions in those events. Meanwhile, Wendland finished third in the men's 800 final at the 2011 Big South indoor meet and ranks No. 5 in program history for the event, at 1:53.59.