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Courtney, Smith Victorious at Valentine Invite
Liberty redshirt juniors Taylor Courtney and Ryan Smith both won events on Saturday at the Valentine Invitational. Meanwhile, teammates Kyle Gill and Andre Washington each notched IC4A qualifiers at the meet held inside the Boston University Track and Tennis Center.
Smith captured the men's weight throw title by 10.5 inches, thanks to a personal-best heave of 63-3.5. The two-time reigning Big South Men's Indoor Field Athlete of the Week entered the day with a personal best of 61-6.75, but five of his six throws landed beyond that mark Saturday afternoon. Smith now ranks No. 3 in program history for the men's weight throw, trailing only Jon Hart and Smith's coach, Clendon Henderson.
Earlier in the day, Smith had thrown the shot put 55-7.5 to place second overall and first among collegiate athletes. It was the fifth time in six meets this season that Smith has been the top collegiate men's shot putter at the event.
Courtney's victory must have felt a little like déjà vu. The last time he competed at the Boston University Track and Tennis Center, Courtney won the 2011 IC4A indoor 500-meter title with a school-record time of 1:01.96. On Saturday, he was again victorious in the 500. His time of 1:03.81 was not quite as fast as his IC4A effort, but Courtney's win came by a decisive 0.84 seconds over Fordham's John Cosgrove.
Washington clocked an indoor personal-best 400-meter time of 48.79 to place 16th, while Gill came in 23rd at 49.05 seconds. Both times came in below the IC4A standard, and Washington's performance makes him No. 10 on Liberty's all-time list.
Leonard Robbins sped to a time of 21.84 seconds in the 200, finishing 10th overall. He climbed to No. 6 on Liberty's indoor 200-meter performance list with the fastest indoor 200 effort by a Flame since Alonzo Phillips ran 21.54 at the 2005 IC4A meet.
Robbins, Washington, Gill and Courtney then teamed up to notch a fifth-place finish in the 4 x 400 relay. Their official time of 3:14.65 makes them the seventh-fastest quartet in program history and the best since 2007.
Freshman Kyle Wheeler also recorded a top 10 finish on Saturday, high jumping 6-6.25 for eighth place in the competition.
Liberty does not have a meet scheduled next weekend. So, the next time the Flames and Lady Flames will be in action will be at the 2012 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships. The meet is slated for Feb. 24-25, at Virginia Tech's Rector Field House in Blacksburg, Va. Both the Liberty men's and women's squads are defending conference champions.
Watch Taylor Courtney's victory in the men's 500:
Watch more video of 2012 BU Valentine Invitational on flotrack.org
Watch the Liberty men's 4 x 400 relay team clock a season-best time of 3:14.65 to win its heat: