The Liberty men's indoor track & field team celebrates its 16th consecutive Big South Conference title.
The Liberty men's track & field team enjoyed a very sweet No. 16 Friday afternoon at the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships. The Flames claimed their 16th consecutive indoor conference title, while the Lady Flames finished second to Coastal Carolina at the meet contested at the JDL Fast Track. Head coach Brant Tolsma's men's squad, which has won this meet every year it has been contested, posted a winning score of 163.5 points. That put the Flames 65 points in front of High Point, which posted a runner-up finish for the first time in meet history. Liberty's impressive title streak is the second-longest active string of conference titles in NCAA Division I indoor men's track & field. Manhattan has claimed each of the last 17 MAAC indoor crowns. Meanwhile, Coastal Carolina's women's squad totaled 182 points to claim its first Big South indoor championship since 2009 and halt Liberty's string of three straight titles. The Lady Flames finished 40 points back with 142 tallies. At the meet's conclusion, Liberty sophomore Mychelle Cumings shared the Big South Women's Outstanding Field Performer award with Charleston Southern's Tamisha Foster. Cumings' meet was highlighted by her women's shot put title and school-record toss of 51-4.25 on Thursday. The Flames' Big South All-Academic Team representatives were Jacy Christiansen on the women's side and Caleb Edmonds for the men. Christiansen and Edmonds swept the women's and men's 3K championships on Thursday.
Men's Day Two Recap The Liberty men's squad won three events on Friday, and they all came in a flurry at the end of the day. Sophomore Kyle Wheeler got things started in the high jump, clearing an indoor personal-best 6-9.5 to win the event for the second straight season. He then took three solid attempts at what would have been a new meet-record 6-11.75 before ending his day. Freshman Patrick Donigan complemented Wheeler's victory with a third-place showing. He high jumped a season-best 6-6.25 for the first All-Big South honor of his young career. While Wheeler was taking his final leaps, the Flames were burning up the track in the men's 5K final. Josh MacDonald won the race in wire-to-wire fashion, with his personal-best clocking of 14:27.62 moving him up to No. 8 in program history. He became Liberty's 10th men's 5K champion all-time at this meet. Behind MacDonald, Jeremie Bourget took third place in 14:39.62 and Ngetich Kipchirchir was fifth in 14:53.31. Both of their times dipped under the IC4A standard for the event. The Flames then put an exclamation point on their team championship with a thrilling, come-from-behind victory in the 4 x 400 relay. Paul Arslain overtook Charleston Southern's anchor in the closing strides, winning the event in a time of 3:20.66. It was Liberty's second straight men's 4 x 400 title at this meet, and the championship-winning quartet also included Andre Washington, Tyler Weigandt and Kyle Gill. After winning the shot put on Thursday, Ryan Smith captured runner-up honors in the men's weight throw Friday afternoon. His 12th career All-Big South accolade came as a result of his 62-8.5 mark. Liberty had a strong showing in the men's mile. After capturing the men's 3K title the previous day, Edmonds grabbed third place from the slow section of the mile. Running most of the race by himself, the junior ran a personal-best time of 4:15.46, moving into eighth place on the Flames' all-time list. Teammate Jarred Cornfield took third place in the next heat and the fourth spot overall, crossing the finish line in 4:16.56. Both times hit the IC4A standard and gave Liberty 11 points in the event. Tevan McIntire collected his first All-Big South medal on Friday, thanks to an almost 300-point personal best in the heptathlon. He finished with 4,877 points for third place in the event and seventh place all-time at Liberty. McIntire started his day with a personal-best 8.62 clocking in the 60 hurdles, pole vaulted 12-7.25 and then wrapped things up with a personal-best 2:48.29 effort in the 1,000-meter run. Sophomore John Sherret was yet another first-time All-Big South performer for the Flames. He finished strongly in the 800-meter run final, coming up for third place in a time of 1:57.91. Three hours before their memorable effort in the 4 x 400 relay, Washington came in fourth and Arslain was fifth in the 400 dash. Washington's time was 49.45, while Arslain's 49.97 effort earned IC4A qualification. The men's team's final top-five finisher on the day was Maxwell Asante. He clocked 7.00 seconds for fifth place in the 60 final.
Women's Day Two Recap Liberty made it a sweep of Friday's Big South high jump titles, thanks to Kristen Willeford's women's crown. The junior sailed over 5-5 on her second try for the first Big South championship of her career. Liberty has now won the women's high jump nine times at this meet, but this was the Lady Flames' first title since Christina Mitchell won the event in 2009. Khristina Kanagy made a valiant attempt to defend her Big South 5K title, making up a lot of ground after Winthrop's Jeanne Stroud opened up a large lead. However, Kanagy had to settle for her second runner-up finish in as many days, along with Thursday's 3K. The senior's time, a personal-best 17:19.01, moved her into sixth place all-time at Liberty. Earlier in the day, Christiansen and Courtney Russo had posted a 3-5 finish in the women's mile final. Christiansen's 5:05.97 clocking and Russo's time of 5:07.23 were both season-best performances. Russo was one of many Lady Flames freshmen to star on Friday. Classmate Janae Jones came in second in the women's triple jump at 39-1.75, followed closely by sophomore teammate Melissa Rohwer in third place at 38-10.25. Jones was then part of an all-freshman 4 x 400 relay team for the Lady Flames, along with Mary Echols, Ansley Gebben and Corinn Bedell. The squad raced to a season-best time of 3:57.10 and a fifth-place finish. Bedell preceded her anchor-leg relay effort with a fifth-place showing in the open 400 dash. Her time was 58.70 seconds. Brittney Webley was yet another Lady Flame rookie to place inside the top five, coming in fifth in the 60 hurdles with an 8.78 clocking. Sophomore Abigail Flower took home a pair of fourth-place showings, in both the 60 (7.69) and 200 (25.05) dashes. Amanda Wimbush was awarded fifth place in a blanket finish in the women's 800. She ran a time of 2:16.37, finishing just 0.09 seconds out of third.
Liberty will now send a sizeable contingent of athletes to the IC4A and ECAC Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships in Boston, Mass. The meet will be contested next Friday through Sunday at Boston University.
Final Men's Team Standings 1) Liberty – 163.5 2) High Point – 98.5 3) Charleston Southern – 82 4) Gardner-Webb – 81 5) VMI – 69 6) Radford – 64 7) Campbell – 63 8) UNC Asheville – 24 9) Winthrop – 13
Final Women's Team Standings 1) Coastal Carolina – 182 2) Liberty – 142 3) Charleston Southern – 74 4) Gardner-Webb – 57 5) Campbell – 50 6) High Point – 41 7) UNC Asheville – 38 8) Radford – 28 9T) VMI – 25 9T) Winthrop – 25
Men's Outstanding Track Performer Jayshawn Campbell, Campbell
Women's Outstanding Track Performer Erica Peake, Coastal Carolina
Men's Outstanding Field Performer Alex Young, Gardner-Webb
Women's Outstanding Field Performer Tamisha Foster, Charleston Southern Mychelle Cumings, Liberty
Men's Freshman of the Year Alex Young, Gardner-Webb
Women's Freshman of the Year Jessica Gelibert, Coastal Carolina
Men's Scholar-Athlete of the Year Cabell Willis, VMI
Women's Scholar-Athlete of the Year Jeanne Stroud, Winthrop
Men's All-Academic Team Cabell Willis, VMI Caleb Edmonds, Liberty Carson Sears, Gardner-Webb DeLohnni Nicol-Samuel, Campbell Tristan Faure, High Point Eric Graves, Radford Kurt Hibert, UNC Asheville Gabe Holguin, Winthrop Avery Coe, Charleston Southern
Women's All-Academic Team Jeanne Stroud, Winthrop Jenna Moye, VMI Taylor Cook, Gardner-Webb Heidi Dean, Charleston Southern Maggie Wissler, Radford Jacy Christiansen, Liberty Mary Lawrence, Coastal Carolina Kelsey Hunt, High Points Samantha Robbins, Campbell Adrian Etheridge, UNC Asheville
Men's Coach of the Year Mike Esposito, High Point
Women's Coach of the Year Alan Connie, Coastal Carolina