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Liberty to Compete at Virginia Tech Swimming & Diving Challenge

October 16, 2014  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty to Compete at Virginia Tech Swimming & Diving Challenge

For the third year in a row, Liberty will compete in the Virginia Tech Swimming & Diving Challenge, held on Saturday at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center.

While in Christiansburg, the Lady Flames (3-0) will face the host Hokies of the ACC, Penn State (1-0) of the Big Ten, 2014 CAA runner-up James Madison and Old Dominion (1-1). Penn State (18th) and Virginia Tech (24th) both finished in the top 25 at the 2014 NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championships, while the Lady Flames tied for 43rd at the national meet.

The Virginia Tech Swimming & Diving Challenge, a five-team meet, will be scored in dual-meet fashion. The program includes 13 individual swimming events and four relays. The competition will open with diving, at 9:45 a.m., before the first swimming event starts at 11 a.m. The meet will include a few differences from a normal event, as there will be a 50-yard race at each stroke along with a 100-yard individual medley.

How to Follow the Lady Flames     
A free live video stream will be available for Saturday's meet, through Virginia Tech's HokiesXtra video page on HokieSports.com. Live results will also appear courtesy of Virginia Tech.

The Lady Flames are 1-0 all-time against James Madison, defeating the Dukes at the 2013 Virginia Tech Swimming & Diving Challenge. Liberty is 0-2 versus Virginia Tech and will meet Penn State and Old Dominion for the first time.

Both of Liberty's coaches have connections to Penn State. Fifth-year head coach Jake Shellenberger spent three years as an assistant coach on Penn State's men's and women's swimming & diving coaching staff immediately before beginning his time at Liberty. Assistant coach Jessica Barnes swam for Penn State, where she won two Big Ten team titles with the Nittany Lions while also earning All-America honorable mention twice as a relay swimmer.

Last week, the defending CCSA champion Lady Flames took their first regular-season trip to the West Coast, competing at Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore. Liberty defeated Oregon State of the Pac-12, 145-112, while posting a 167-90 victory over Seattle. Liberty is off to a 3-0 start to the season, opening with a win at Campbell on Sept. 26.

Junior Kendall Hough won both the 100 free (51.02) and 100 back (56.34) at Oregon State, last Friday. She led a 1-2-3 Liberty sweep in each of those two events. Hough swam leadoff in 26.55 on Liberty's winning 200 medley relay, and swam the anchor leg of the 400 free relay in 51.10. Hough was named CCSA Swimmer of the Week for her efforts last week, her first career Swimmer of the Week award.

The Lady Flames' relays have won each event they have entered this season, winning the 200 medley relay twice while posting victory in the 200 free relay in the season opener at Campbell.

Senior Emily Duff won the 200 backstroke last Friday, swimming 2:01.23. A six-time CCSA medalist, Duff holds Liberty's program records in the 200 back (1:57.52) and 400 individual medley (4:20.89).

Senior Meghan Babock won the 50 free at Oregon State in a time of 23.97. Babcock, a 2014 CSCAA Scholar All-America first team mention, placed third at the 2014 CCSA Championships in the 100 free.

Junior Ranndi Grubbs claimed first place (57.88) in the 100 fly in Corvallis, Ore., while junior Hannah Wakeley won the 200 fly in 2:06.20.

Sophomore Heather McCorkel swam 1:50.22 to win the 200 free. McCorkel holds Liberty's program records in the 200 free (1:49.07) and 500 free (4:48.87).

Sophomore Morgan Noonan won both the 100 (1:06.88) and 200 (2:21.40) breaststroke on Sept. 26, good for her first two event wins as a Lady Flame. She ranks third on Liberty's all-time performance list in both breaststroke races.

Freshmen Prudence Rooker and Sarah Browning have both cracked Liberty's all-time top five lists in two individual events. Rooker is ranked fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.47) and 200 breaststroke (2:23.85). Browning ranks fourth in the 1,000 free (10:30.42) and third in the 400 individual medley (4:34.43).

This year's team includes 12 newcomers, with 11 freshmen and one transfer comprising nearly half of Liberty's 25-person roster. All 13 of Liberty's returnees scored at last year's conference meet. The Lady Flames' group of returning student-athletes is highlighted by six CCSA individual medalists and two additional swimmers who competed on medal-winning relays at the conference championship meet last year.

Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech opens its 2014-15 season on Saturday at its home meet. The Hokies earned a fifth-place finish at the 2014 ACC Championships, before placing 24th at the NCAA Championships.     

Junior Weronika Paluszek returns as Virginia Tech's record holder in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke. She scored in both events at the 2014 NCAA meet. Another top returner is Kaylea Arnett, who holds the program's one-meter and three-meter diving records. Arnett, a four-time ACC champion, took home a third-place finish in the one-meter diving at last year's national meet.

Penn State 
Penn State opened the 2014-15 season with a 170-119 win over Georgia Tech. The Nittany Lions placed third at the 2014 Big Ten Championships, before finishing 18th at the NCAA meet.     

Junior Alyson Ackman returns after setting program records in the 100 free, 200 free and 500 free last season. She broke the Big Ten record in the 200 free, winning the event at the conference meet. Ackman leads a team that returns six All-Americans from last year. Junior Melissa Rodriguez (100 breaststroke) and senior Megan Silverling (1,000 free; 1,650 free) are also returning program record holders.

James Madison
James Madison starts its season this weekend in Christiansburg. The Dukes placed second at the 2014 CAA Championships, winning nine events at the conference meet.

Redshirt sophomore Taryn McLaughlin was named 2014 CAA Diver of the Year after winning both the one-meter and three-meter events at the CAA meet. JMU has lost CAA individual event champions Shannon Dubay and Kelsey Holmgaard to graduation.

Old Dominion
Old Dominion holds a 1-1 record, defeating UNCW while falling to Richmond in a tri-meet last week. The Monarchs placed eighth at the 2014 Conference USA Championships.     

Senior Rachel Eckert won the 2014 C-USA three-meter diving and placed second in one-meter diving. Sophomore Colleen VandePoel finished in sixth place in the conference 100 back. Senior Yesim Giresunlu placed fifth in the 1,650 free and seventh in the 500 free at last year's conference meet.     

Following Saturday's meet, Liberty will return to Lynchburg, where the team will contest its lone home meet of the season. The Lady Flames will host Richmond on Oct. 31 at 5 p.m. at the LaHaye Aquatics Center.

Schedule of Events
1. 400 Medley Relay
2. 1,000 Freestyle
3. 50 Freestyle
4. 200 Freestyle
5. 50 Backstroke
6. 50 Breaststroke
7. 200 Butterfly
8. 200 Freestyle Relay
15 Minute Break
9. 200 Medley Relay
10. 500 Freestyle
11. 100 Freestyle
12. 200 Backstroke
13. 200 Breaststroke
14. 100 Individual Medley
15 Minute Break
15. 50 Butterfly
16. 400 Individual Medley
17. 400 Freestyle Relay