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Liberty Collegiate Invitational to Begin Friday
The Liberty men's and women's outdoor track & field teams will open their 2012 home schedule this weekend. The Flames and Lady Flames will play host to the annual Liberty Collegiate Invitational, Friday and Saturday at the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex.
Approximately 20 colleges and universities have entered athletes in the meet, which will serve as Liberty's final tuneup for the 2012 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
The Liberty Collegiate Invitational will officially begin Friday at 1 p.m. with the decathlon 100-meter dash and women's hammer. Saturday's first events, the women's pole vault and decathlon 110-meter hurdles, will both get started at 9:30 a.m.
How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results will be available for the Liberty Collegiate Invitational, with links available at the top of this release and on the track & field schedule/results page on LibertyFlames.com.
The weather is projected to be quite pleasant for the Liberty Collegiate Invitational. Friday's forecast calls for a high of 64 degrees and partly cloudy skies, with only a slight chance of rain. On Saturday, it is supposed to warm up to near 70 degrees with abundant sunshine.
Preparing Their Defense
Six individual event champions from the wind-swept 2011 Liberty Collegiate Invitational will return to defend their titles this weekend, with all of them coming in field events.
On the women's side, the defending champions are back in the high jump (Virginia's Pearl Bickersteth), triple jump (Liberty's Alyssa Pegues), discus (Virginia's Erin Wykoff) and hammer (Liberty's Melinda Bendik).
In the men's events, champions return in the shot put (Liberty's Ryan Smith) and hammer (Virginia's Vincenzo Chiariello).
Smith will be seeking his fourth straight Liberty Collegiate Invitational men's shot put crown on Saturday, while Bendik will be in search of her third consecutive women's hammer victory at this meet.
10 Events You Won't Want to Miss
Listed in chronological order
Friday, 1 p.m. – Women's Hammer – The 2012 Liberty Collegiate Invitational figures to get off to a roaring start, when the women's hammer competition begins at the Flames' new throwing cage on Campus East. Liberty redshirt senior Melinda Bendik headlines the list of 37 entrants. The two-time defending Liberty Collegiate Invitational women's hammer champion, Bendik has twice broken the school record this season and ranks No. 19 nationally at 194-5. She figures to be challenged by defending Northeast Conference champion Athalia Smith of Sacred Heart, reigning America East Conference champion Kadine Johnson, now competing post-collegiately, as well as Virginia's Maureen Laffan, the 2011 ACC runner-up.
Friday, 1:15 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. – Women's Heptathlon – Liberty's Christina Mitchell will be competing in her first heptathlon since capturing both the Big South and ECAC heptathlon titles in 2011. She will face some strong competition this weekend in her return to the multi-events, including James Madison's Jennifer Monk, who finished fifth in last year's ECAC heptathlon competition. Elon's Louise Prevoteau won the Southern Conference indoor pentathlon title this year. Ashley Bault of Marietta finished sixth in the heptathlon at the 2011 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships, while Mariah Freeman of Shorter came in ninth in the heptathlon at the 2011 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Saturday, 11 a.m. – Men's Shot Put – Liberty throwers currently rank first (Ryan Smith), third (David Scouten), fifth (Tim Abbott) and sixth (Jacob DeValve) on the Big South men's shot put performance list, and all four will be in action Saturday morning. Smith is the three-time defending Liberty Collegiate Invitational men's shot put champion and ranks No. 20 in the nation at 58-8.5. He will face off against Nick Vena of Virginia, a talented freshman who sits No. 6 on the national list with a 62-6.75 heave. UMBC's Aaron Brooks, the 2011 America East indoor men's shot put runner-up, is another thrower to watch.
Saturday, Noon – Men's 4 x 100 Relay – Last weekend, one Liberty 4 x 100 relay quartet (Roderick Spruel, Leonard Robbins, Tarell Williams and Anthony Settje) posted the Flames' fastest time in 11 years, a 40.71 clocking at the Texas Relays. Meanwhile, Liberty's "B" team of Maxwell Asante, Lachaddrick Ellis, ConRoy Smith and Kyle Gill notched a solid time of 41.43 seconds at the Raleigh Relays. The same two groupings will go head to head on Saturday and will look to push one another to even faster times on their home track.
Saturday, 12:30 p.m. – Women's Discus – The last three Liberty Collegiate women's discus champions are all entered for Saturday's competition, in 2009 winner Alyssa Girvin of Elon, 2010 titlist Melinda Bendik of Liberty and 2010 champion Erin Wykoff of Virginia. Wykoff enters as the favorite, after finishing 12th in this event at the 2011 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Her teammate Emily Vannoy threw the discus at the 2010 NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet. Liberty freshman Mychelle Cumings has reached over 150 feet at each of her last two meets, including a school-record 158-8 toss at the UVa Team Swashbuckle on March 24. Meanwhile, Sacred Heart's Christine Middleton was the 2011 Northeast Conference women's discus runner-up.
Saturday, 12:40 p.m. – Men's 1,500 – Most of Liberty's top men's mid-distance and distance runners will line up for the men's 1,500-meter run, as the Flames have nine athletes entered in the "metric mile." Caleb Edmonds, Ngetich Kipchirchir, Josh MacDonald and David Ricksecker have all enjoyed success at longer distances this season but will see how they fare in a shorter race than they are accustomed to. Meanwhile, Sacred Heart's Patrick Peterson will be stepping up in distance, after placing ninth in the IC4A indoor 1,000-meter final last month.
Saturday, 2:30 p.m. – Women's Triple Jump – Liberty seniors Mia Aghaji (2008, 2009 & 2010) and Alyssa Pegues (2011) have combined to win the women's triple jump at the last four Liberty Collegiate Invitationals. Both Lady Flames are scheduled to compete Saturday afternoon, when they will be challenged by the Virginia duo of Dallas Rose and Britni Strates. Rose finished 12th in the women's triple jump at the 2012 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Saturday, 3:10 p.m. – Women's 800 – Liberty figures to make a strong showing in the two-lap event, with the trio of Meghan Burggraf, Jennifer Klugh and Amanda Wimbush entered. Burggraf, the two-time defending Big South outdoor champion in this event, will be making her 2012 season debut at the 800-meter distance. Klugh, the reigning Big South 1,500-meter titlist, will step down to the 800 meters for the first time in two years. Meanwhile, Wimbush has been steadily trimming seconds off of her time and notched a personal-best 2:15.57 in her most recent 800-meter effort, March 24 at the UVa Team Swashbuckle. The Lady Flames' trio will be joined by Roanoke's Carmen Graves, who placed third in the 800-meter final at this year's NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships. Former Florida Gator Lorain McKenzie also bears watching.
Saturday, 3:25 p.m. – Men's 400 Hurdles – The Flames' Taylor Courtney will attempt to capture his second Liberty Collegiate Invitational title in the 400 hurdles, after finishing first in 2010. He will be challenged by a pair of 2011 conference champions in this event. Sacred Heart's Jeremy Rosado won the Northeast Conference title, while Lynchburg College's Rachad Davis took top honors in the ODAC.
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. (approximately) – Men's High Jump – The facility high jump record of 6-11.5, set by Liberty's Matt Parker at the 2009 Liberty Collegiate Invitational, could be threatened Saturday afternoon. Liberty freshman Kyle Wheeler has been jumping well in recent weeks, capturing the Big South indoor title and then clearing 6-11.75 last weekend at the Texas Relays. Radford's Travis Hudson, who placed third at the Big South indoor meet, is entered in Saturday's competition. Additionally, Sacred Heart's Drayke Jackson won the Northeast Conference indoor high jump title and Lynchburg College's Jared Bloomquist did the same in the ODAC.