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Liberty Track Ready for Raleigh & Texas Relays

March 29, 2012
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Khristina Kanagy (front) is shown here celebrating her women's 5K title at the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships. She will run the 5K Friday at 10:30 a.m. at the Raleigh Relays.

Raleigh Relays Schedule

Raleigh Relays Entries

Raleigh Relays Live Results

Flotrack's Coverage of the Raleigh Relays

Raleigh, N.C. Weather

Texas Relays Schedule

Texas Relays Men's Entries

Texas Relays Women's Entries

Texas Relays Live Results

Longhorn Network Home Page

Flotrack's Coverage of the Texas Relays

Austin, Texas Weather

For the first time during the 2012 outdoor season, Liberty will divide its track & field athletes between two different meets this weekend. A majority of the squad will compete in the Raleigh Relays on Friday and Saturday. Meanwhile, a group of Flames and Lady Flames will head to Austin, Texas for the prestigious Texas Relays, Thursday through Saturday.

Alyssa Allen will be the first Liberty athlete in action at the Raleigh Relays, running the women's 5K Friday at 9:45 a.m. at N.C. State's Paul Derr Track. Melinda Bendik will get things started for the Lady Flames at the Texas Relays, throwing the hammer Thursday at 1:30 p.m. Eastern at Mike A. Myers Stadium.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results will be available throughout both the Raleigh Relays and Texas Relays. Links are available at the top of this release and on the track & field schedule/results page on LibertyFlames.com.

The Longhorn Network will provide 17 hours of television coverage of the Texas Relays, including a live broadcast from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Friday and 14 hours of tape-delayed coverage.

Flotrack.org will be on hand in both Raleigh and Austin this weekend. The website will post race videos and interviews throughout both meets.

Weather Report
The temperature in Raleigh will be pleasant both Friday and Saturday, with a high in the mid to upper-70s both days. However, there is a slight chance of thunderstorms each day.

As expected, it will be a bit warmer in Austin, Texas than in North Carolina this weekend. Thursday's projected high temperature is 79 degrees, before it climbs to 84 on both Friday and Saturday. Friday holds the greatest chance of rain during the meet, at 20 percent.

Go the Distance
Mid-distance and distance races are a focal point of the Raleigh Relays, especially on Friday. That day, more than eight hours will be devoted to races 1,500 meters and longer.

Last year, Liberty's mid-distance and distance runners performed very well at the Raleigh Relays, highlighted by seniors Sam Chelanga and Dacia Bushman in the 10K. Chelanga's 28:15.64 effort and Bushman's 35:15.84 clocking each ranked No. 1 on the 2011 NCAA Division I national performance lists at the time.

On Friday, three races stand out from a Liberty perspective, beginning with Section III of the women's 5K at 10:30 a.m. The race will be somewhat of a reprise of the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships women's 5K final, as six of the top 11 finishers are entered.

Leading the way is Lady Flames junior Khristina Kanagy, who captured the Big South indoor 5K title. Friday morning's race will mark her first 5K of the 2012 outdoor campaign, and Kanagy's toughest competition from Big South opponents could come from the High Point duo of Kayleigh Perry and Kelsey Hunt.

Jennifer Klugh, who finished second to Kanagy in the Big South indoor 5K final, will make her season debut at 1,500 meters at 6:40 p.m. Klugh is the reigning Big South 1,500-meter champion and has qualified for the NCAA Division I Preliminary Round meet in the event each of the last two years.

Last season, Klugh placed fourth in the 1,500 at the Raleigh Relays, clocking a time of 4:30.37. This time around, she will be challenged by a strong field including NCAA indoor All-Americans Emily Sisson of Providence and Heather Wilson of Connecticut.

At 7:52 p.m., the Liberty trio of Caleb Edmonds, Josh MacDonald and David Ricksecker will compete in Section II of the men's 5K. It will be the first outdoor 5K of the season for each of the three Flames.

Six runners in Section II own personal-best 5K times of 14:20 or faster, headlined by the N.C. State duo of Andrew Colley and Adam Henken. Both Wolfpack standouts have dipped under 14:00 during their careers.

Outstanding in Their Field
Some of Liberty's top field event athletes will face some of the top competition in the nation during the Texas Relays, especially in the women's hammer, men's pole vault, men's shot put and women's shot put.
Melinda Bendik, returning to her home state of Texas, will throw the hammer Thursday at 1:30 p.m. Eastern. She has broken the school record twice already this season and ranks No. 13 nationally at 194-5.

On Thursday, Bendik will face nine of the 12 women's hammer throwers currently listed ahead of her. Topping the list is USC sophomore Jenny Ozorai, who sits No. 2 in the nation with a 223-4 heave.

Kolby Shepherd certainly has positive memories of the 2011 Texas Relays. Competing on his 22nd birthday, Shepherd pole vaulted 17-6.5 to tie the long-standing school record and place third in the event. The redshirt senior will try to recapture the magic from last season, Saturday at 4 p.m. Eastern.

Oral Roberts' Jack Whitt won the Texas Relays pole vault title last season and is back to defend his crown. The reigning NCAA national runner-up has cleared 18-0.5 already in 2012.

Both the men's and women's shot put competitions are slated to begin simultaneously, Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Eastern. Ryan Smith, currently ranked No. 5 nationally, is entered in the men's shot put. He sits second on Liberty's all-time outdoor shot put list, trailing only the mark of 61-3 that his coach, Clendon Henderson, posted during the 2008 Texas Relays.

Smith will match up against five different competitors who recorded a top five shot put finish at either the 2011 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships or the 2012 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Mychelle Cumings, who has set both the Liberty indoor and outdoor women's shot put records during her stellar freshman season, will also throw the shot Saturday afternoon. She will compete against three of the top six shot putters on the NCAA Division I national list, including Texas Tech's Ifeatu Okafor. She sits No. 4 in the nation at 55-1.5.

Record-Breaking Relays?
With Liberty competing in two different meets with the word "relays" in their titles, it is only appropriate that the Flames and Lady Flames enter some relay squads. Two of the top Liberty relay units to watch will be the women's 4 x 100 relay and sprint medley relay squads at the Texas Relays.

The quartet of Sherri Spruel, Abigail Flower, Olivia Charnuski and Meme Layne has improved its time in the 4 x 100 relay at each of its three meets so far this season. Most recently, they ran a time of 46.27 seconds to win at the UVa Team Swashbuckle on Saturday.

The Lady Flames' 4 x 100 relay team, which will take aim at the program record of 45.95 seconds from 2007, will race Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. Eastern.

Later that evening, around 7:30 p.m. Eastern, Charnuski, Flower, Mia Aghaji and Meghan Burggraf will take the track for the sprint medley relay. The unique relay begins with two 200-meter legs, followed by a 400-meter leg and an 800-meter anchor leg.

Liberty' sprint medley school record of 3:57.43 has stood since 2001, but this grouping should have a shot at it. Charnuski and Burggraf were both part of a sprint medley unit that ran 3:58.62 at the 2011 Raleigh Relays.