Riley Brandon won her second straight Big South pentathlon title with a meet-record score of 3,636 points.
Aided by event victories from Aklesso Agama (men's long jump), Riley Brandon (women's pentathlon) and Ednah Kurgat (women's 3K), Liberty tops both the men's and women's team standings after Thursday's opening day action at the 2015 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships, contested at the JDL Fast Track.
Seeking its 18th consecutive team title, the Liberty men's squad totaled 67 points through the meet's first five events. That has the Lady Flames on top of second-place Campbell, which scored 43 points.
Meanwhile, the Lady Flames own a 68.5-46 advantage over two-time defending champion Coastal Carolina through six women's events.
Men's Day One Recap Agama's long jump victory was part of a 17-point event for the Flames. The sophomore took top honors with a personal-best 23-6.75 leap, qualifying for the IC4A meet in the process. Agama is the Flames' first men's long jump winner at this meet since Matt Parker in 2008.
Behind Agama, Darrel Jones reached a season-best 22-0.25 for fifth place, Zach Davis jumped 21-10 for the seventh spot in his fifth event of the day and Eric Schmidt's 20-5 jump was good for eighth place.
Liberty then racked up 22 points in the men's pole vault, claiming four of the top six places. Ken Ritchey led the way, finishing as the runner-up for the second straight year with a personal-best 16-2.75 clearance. The junior now ranks No. 5 on the Flames' all-time indoor pole vault list.
Teammate Alexandru Barker also notched a personal best, vaulting 15-5 for the third and final All-Big South position. Carson Waters cleared 15-5 as well, but finished fourth due to misses. Alex Geniesse came in sixth at 14-11.
Liberty pulled down another 17 points in the shot put, paced by David Scouten's runner-up effort (51-9.25). Trevor VanAsselt (49-0.75) and Tim Abbott (48-6) followed in fourth and fifth places, respectively.
The Flames just missed winning the distance medley relay title for the first time since 2010, as they were edged out by Campbell at the finish line. Liberty finished second in an IC4A-qualifying time of 10:16.70 with Jacob Onifer, Jeff Jacobs, Christopher Crowder and Cameron Francis toting the baton.
Liberty also scored points in the men's 3K, as Titus Koech was seventh in 8:40.14 and Sam Hibbs took eighth in a season-best 8:42.06.
All four Flames are in the top eight of the heptathlon standings through Thursday's quartet of events. Davis, who won the heptathlon long jump (21-8), shot put (personal-best 43-8.5) and high jump (6-8), is the day one leader at 2,932 points.
Tevan McIntire sits in the No. 2 position with 2,863 points, aided by a season-best 6-4.25 high jump effort. Zach Gilroy (sixth place, 2,498) and Lewis Williams (eighth place, 2,463) each set several personal bests on the day.
Gilroy's 60 dash time of 7.68 established a personal best, while the sophomore's long jump (19-11.75) and shot put (37-2.5) marks were his best-ever indoor performances.
Williams opened the day with three straight personal bests, clocking 7.32 for the 60, long jumping 19-1.25 and heaving the shot put 41-6.5.
The Flames qualified two or more runners to Friday's finals in the 60, 200, 400 and 800. Stephen Racanelli was the top qualifier at 200 meters (22.35) and No. 2 at 400 meters (50.45). Teammates Trevor Hope (1:56.79), John Sherret (1:56.81) and Andrew Crowell (1:57.78) qualified 1-2-3 in the 800 prelims.
Women's Day One Recap For the second straight year, Brandon and Erika Jackson swept the top two places in the Big South pentathlon. With a personal-best and meet-record score of 3,636 points, Brandon becomes the first Lady Flame ever to capture back-to-back Big South pentathlon titles. The senior also climbs to No. 4 on Liberty's all-time list with her point total.
Brandon won the pentathlon high jump (5-4.5), threw the shot put a personal-best 36-11 and long jumped a season-best 16-10. She then punctuated her victory by winning the 800 by six seconds in a season-best 2:21.62.
Jackson's score was a season-high 3,449, thanks in part to her personal-best 9.17 clocking for the 60 hurdles and a 17-2 long jump, which equaled her lifetime best.
Jessica Harrison followed in fifth place in the pentathlon with a season-best point total of 3,127. She won the pentathlon shot put with a personal-best mark of 38-4.25.
Freshman Kurgat made an impressive debut at the Big South meet in the women's 3K, winning one of the day's most exciting races. Coastal Carolina's Letitia Saayman recovered from an early-race fall to overtake Kurgat on the final lap. However, Kurgat retook the lead during the final strides and won in 9:52.57, just 11-hundredths of a second in front of Saayman.
Senior Jacy Christiansen joined Kurgat on the awards podium, thanks to a third-place finish in a season-best 9:55.01 effort. Christiansen qualified for the ECAC meet in the process.
The Lady Flames notched 13 points in the women's shot put, with all three of their point scorers recording personal-best marks. Jocelyn Williams provided one of the biggest surprises of the day, claiming the runner-up spot at 44-11.5. The big throw landed more than a foot beyond her previous personal best, exceeded the ECAC standard and ranks third on the Lady Flames' all-time list.
Freshmen Dasiana Larson (43-0.25) and Holly Arey (41-9.25) came in fifth and eighth, respectively. Arey added more than a foot and a half to her previous best.
Liberty also saw three different athletes score points in the women's pole vault. Jessie Glynn tied her personal best of 11-9.75 to nab fifth place. Freshmen Audrey Rabe and Mariel Finger each got over 11-3.75, with Rabe coming in sixth and Finger sharing the seventh position.
Anchor leg Kat Bouton pulled the Lady Flames up to third place in the distance medley relay with a time of 12:25.27 that ranks 10th on Liberty's all-time list. Bouton was preceded on the relay quartet by Hannah Scherlacher, Mary Witmer and Alyssa Karle.
Melissa Rohwer reached a season-best 17-11.5 in the long jump for sixth place.
The Lady Flames' sprinters performed well, advancing three to the final in both the 60 and 200 dashes. At 60 meters, Abigail Flower was the fastest qualifier at 7.55 seconds, climbing to second in program history. Defending Big South 60-meter dash champion Oasis Hernandez punched her ECAC ticket with a season-best 7.64 effort. Olivia Davis was a surprise winner of her heat, claiming the No. 8 spot in program history at 7.72 seconds.
In the 200, Liberty's qualifiers included Flower (25.28), twin sister Kate Flower (25.37) and Rajon Stinnett-Perry (indoor personal-best 25.70).
The meet will resume Friday at 10 a.m. with the heptathlon 60-meter hurdles and the women's weight throw.