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Liberty Set to Host Asics Collegiate Invitational

March 28, 2007  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Piper Newby will take aim at a regional-qualifying time in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Saturday at the Asics Collegiate Invitational.

Piper Newby will take aim at a regional-qualifying time in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Saturday at the Asics Collegiate Invitational.

The Liberty men's and women's track and field teams, off to a successful start to the 2007 outdoor season, will open the home portion of the schedule at Friday and Saturday's Asics Collegiate Invitational, at the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex. 

Approximately a dozen universities, including James Madison and Pittsburgh, are slated to attend the two-day event. Several high-level professional athletes, including world-ranked LaShawn Merritt, are also registered. 

Friday's action will kick off at 1 p.m. with the start of the decathlon. The heptathlon is set to start at 1:15. Liberty athletes to watch on Friday include Clarence Murray (Jr., Birdsboro, Pa.) and Marie Williams (Jr., Tampa, Fla.). Murray is the defending Big South decathlon champion, and Williams set a meet record while winning the pentathlon at the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships in February. 

The multi events will resume and the women's pole vault will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. Running events get underway at 12:30 p.m. Four Liberty men's athletes have already qualified for the NCAA East Regional Championships—Jon Hart (Jr., Wyomissing, Pa.) (hammer, shot), Clendon Henderson (Jr., Meadow, Texas) (discus, hammer), Tim O'Donnell (Jr., Hurst, Texas) (400 hurdles) and Matt Parker (So., Rome, N.Y.) (high jump)—and each of them will compete in their specialties on Saturday. 

The high jump, set for a 2:15 p.m. start, will be a featured event. Parker just qualified for the regional meet last Saturday at the Lynchburg College Invitational, leaping a career-best 6-10.75. He will take aim at the facility (6-11) and school (7-0) records this weekend. On the women's side, Arlene Zelinskas (Sr., Dayton, Ohio), who cleared 5-8.75 indoors, could challenge the facility record of 5-9. 

Piper Newby (Jr., Hayden Lake, Idaho) looks to add her name to the regional qualifier list in the steeplechase. She set a school record with a 10:50.31 clocking at the season-opening Coastal Carolina Invitational on March 10 and needs to cut just .06 seconds to punch her ticket to the regional meet. 

Even though most of the Flames' male distance runners will be taking the weekend off of competition, the 1,500 meters could produce a fast time. Pittsburgh's Sam Bair, a two-time All-American who placed seventh in the mile at the recent NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships is entered. Also scheduled to participate is Julius Rono of Roberts Wesleyan, the NAIA national champion at 1,000 meters and the mile runner-up. 

Merritt, who owns a personal best of 44.14 seconds for 400 meters and was ranked third in the world in the event in 2006, is one of several athletes from Norfolk's Real Deal Track Club who plans to attend this weekend's meet. He set a facility record of 20.48 seconds in the 200 meters at last year's Asics Collegiate Invite and is entered in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes this year. Real Deal teammate Kyle Farmer, who ran on Florida's national champion 4 x 100 relay squad in 2004, has also registered for the 100, 200 and 400.