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Liberty to Preview BSC Course at Winthrop
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Liberty's second meet of the 2012 cross country season, Saturday's Winthrop/Adidas Invitational, will enable the Flames and Lady Flames to do some previewing. Liberty will get its first look at some of its top Big South competitors as well as the opportunity to race on the course which will host the 2012 Big South Cross Country Championships.
Saturday's action at the Winthrop Coliseum and Farm will get started bright and early, with the men's 8K slated for a 9 a.m. start. The women's 5K race will follow at 9:45.
How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Liberty cross country fans will be able to keep up with their favorite Flames and Lady Flames on Saturday via live Twitter updates from Rock Hill. Fans are urged to follow the Liberty Flames Twitter account (twitter.com/libertyflames) for photo and text updates throughout both of Saturday's races.
Saturday's forecast for Rock Hill, S.C. calls for a high temperature in the low 80s under partly sunny skies. While the races are taking place, temperatures are expected to be in the upper 60s and low 70s with high humidity.
Scouting the Competition
The Winthrop/Adidas Invitational will feature a strong Big South Conference flavor, with 10 of the conference's 12 squads entered in the meet. Longwood and VMI are the only Big South teams not expected to compete on Saturday. Outside of the Big South entrants, traditional Southeast Region power Louisville figures to be one of the top contenders.
Checking Out the Course
Liberty assistant coach Josh McDougal is the only member of the Flames' traveling party this weekend who has first-hand experience racing at the Winthrop Coliseum and Farm. The last time Liberty competed there was at the 2004 Big South Cross Country Championships, on Oct. 30, 2004. Then a freshman, McDougal won his first of four straight Big South men's cross country individual titles that day, and both the Liberty men's and women's squads placed second. McDougal's winning 8K time of 23:49 broke the course record previously held by Alan Webb.
The primarily flat course, which weaves around different parts of Winthrop's athletics complex, will play host to the 2012 Big South Cross Country Championships on Oct. 27. Winthrop hosted the inaugural Big South Cross Country Championships in 1986, and this season will mark the 10th time the meet has been held in Rock Hill.
A Sign of Things to Come?
If Saturday's meet is anything like last year's Coastal Carolina Invitational/Big South Preview, it could be a good predictor of who will take home hardware at next month's Big South Cross Country Championships.
At the 2011 Coastal Carolina Invitational/Big South Preview, the top two Big South teams were the Liberty men's squad and the High Point women's team. Both went on to win Big South team crowns at the same course six weeks later. Moreover, the top Big South individual finishers on the day were Liberty's Zac Edwards and Jennifer Klugh, each of whom later captured Big South individual championships.
Packing it Up
Pack running was Liberty's strategy at the season-opening Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational on Aug. 31 in Blacksburg, Va. The meet was not team scored, but the Flames and Lady Flames were able to display their depth.
All six runners who suited up for the Liberty men's squad crossed the finish line together in the 6K race, led by freshman Will Templeton in a time of 19:39.75. Meanwhile, the top seven Lady Flames also finished as a pack, with Jessica Gass' 4K clocking of 15:29.72 leading the way.
The 2012 Liberty men's cross country team features a nice balance of experience and youth. Three of the Flames' upperclassmen (Zac Edwards, David Ricksecker and Caleb Edmonds) placed in the top seven at the 2011 Big South Cross Country Championships.
Meanwhile, the Flames also boast one of their strongest freshman classes in recent years. Four of Liberty's top six finishers at the season opener were rookies, including redshirt freshman Ngetich Kipchirchir and true freshmen Jeremie Bourget, Sam Hibbs and Will Templeton.