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Liberty Tops IC4A Standings After Day 1
Top three finishes by Ryan Smith and Kolby Shepherd have propelled the Liberty men's team into the lead after Saturday's action at the IC4A Indoor Track & Field Championships in Boston, Mass. Across town, Jennifer Klugh's sixth-place effort highlighted the Lady Flames' opening day at the ECAC Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Smith was the IC4A weight throw runner-up, while Shepherd came in third in the pole vault. The duo accounted for 14 of the Flames' 16 points, giving Liberty a one-point lead through Saturday's quartet of IC4A event finals at the Boston University Track and Tennis Center. The Flames, who tied for second place at this meet a year ago, lead Bucknell and Duquesne by a single tally.
At the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, the Lady Flames tallied three points on Saturday. As a result, they are tied for 22nd place with Navy, New Hampshire and St. Francis (Pa.) through five ECAC events. Connecticut and Cornell are deadlocked atop the ECAC standings with 16 points apiece.
IC4A Day One Recap
One week after sweeping the Big South men's shot put and weight throw titles, Smith recorded the best IC4A finish of his career on Saturday. The redshirt junior eclipsed the 63-foot barrier for the third straight meet, topping out at 63-2 for runner-up honors in the weight throw. Smith trailed only Bucknell senior Tom Barr's throw of 64-2.5 among the field of 34 entrants.
Like Smith, Shepherd built upon a successful performance at the Big South meet, where he had won his fourth indoor conference title. Shepherd's highest pole vault clearance of the day, 17-0.75, matched that of IC4A champion Kyle Dugan of Connecticut and runner-up Nico Weiler of Harvard. However, Shepherd was relegated to third place due to misses.
Shepherd took three attempts at 17-8.5, which would have won the competition and set a new school record. However, the redshirt senior was unsuccessful on all three tries.
Also in the pole vault, Cody Fridgen cleared 15-3 on his first attempt, tying for 14th place in the final standings.
The Flames' final two points of the day came in the men's 3K final, where sophomore Caleb Edmonds clocked a personal-best time of 8:16.59 for seventh place. Running in the second of three heats, Edmonds won his race by more than six seconds. Only six competitors in the third and fastest heat were able to run faster than Edmonds' time, which ranks him No. 5 in program history.
Edmonds now ranks among some of the most notable distance runners in program history, as the only Flames ever to run faster than 8:16.59 in the 3K are Sam Chelanga, Josh McDougal, Josh Cox and Jordan McDougal.
Competing in the first heat of the 3K, David Ricksecker lowered his personal-best time to 8:24.32, placing second in his section and 17th overall.
Liberty's 400 and 500-meter runners performed well on Saturday, punctuated by their effort in the day's final event, the 4 x 400 relay. The quartet of Leonard Robbins, Kyle Gill, Paul Arslain and Taylor Courtney raced to a season-best time of 3:13.81, placing a close second in their heat and advancing to Sunday's final with the ninth-fastest qualifying time overall. That grouping now ranks as the fourth-fastest 4 x 400 relay quartet in Liberty history and the fastest since 2007.
Earlier in the day, Courtney and Arslain each qualified for Sunday's 500-meter final. Courtney, the defending IC4A 500-meter champion, posted a season-best time of 1:03.47. Meanwhile, Arslain's time of 1:03.54 set a new personal best and ranks No. 7 in program history.
Although neither one of them qualified for the 400-meter dash final, both Kyle Gill (48.46) and Andre Washington (48.54) notched personal-best times in the prelims. Gill and Washington now sit No. 8 and 9, respectively, on Liberty's all-time performance list.
Tarell Williams made a solid IC4A debut in the long jump, placing 13th with a 22-3.75 leap.
Roderick Spruel advanced to Sunday's 60-meter dash semifinals, after crossing the line in 6.95 seconds in his preliminary heat.
ECAC Day One Recap
Big South Women's Outstanding Track Performer Klugh was able to focus on just one race this weekend, after competing in the mile, 3K and 5K at the Big South meet. The senior came in sixth in the 5K final, clocking a time of 16:52.14 that was less than four seconds away from breaking her own school and Big South record.
Big South 5K champion Khristina Kanagy dropped eight seconds off of her personal-best 5K time on Saturday, running a 17:27.13 for third in her heat and 14th place overall in the event.
Another newly-crowned Big South champion, Mychelle Cumings, was also in action for the Lady Flames on Saturday. The freshman placed 14th in the shot put final, reaching 43-8.5 on her best throw.
Meghan Burggraf improved her career-best 800-meter time to 2:11.08, earning a spot in the final for the second year in a row.
Olivia Charnuski clocked a time of 8.72 to make the semifinals of the 60-meter hurdles. However, the Canadian was unable to advance to Sunday's final.
The IC4A and ECAC Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships will conclude on Sunday. Smith and David Scouten will be the first Flames to compete at the IC4A meet, beginning the shot put at 11 a.m. At the same time, Rachel Houseknecht and Shelley Parker will start pole vaulting at the ECAC meet across town.