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Pre-Nationals Next Up for Liberty XC

October 15, 2015  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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(L-R): Jeremie Bourget, Cameron Francis, James Zentmeyer and Josh Showalter have been some of the Flames' top men's runners this season.

(L-R): Jeremie Bourget, Cameron Francis, James Zentmeyer and Josh Showalter have been some of the Flames' top men's runners this season.

Pre-Nationals Information Central

Live Results

Men's Unseeded Teams

Women's Unseeded Teams

Men's 8K Course Map

Women's 6K Course Map

Louisville Weather

The Liberty men's and women's cross country teams will face some challenging competition this Saturday, at the Pre-Nationals meet at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky.

The Flames' day will begin with the men's 8K black (unseeded) race at 10:45 a.m. and the women's 6K black (unseeded) race at 11:30. Liberty will also have runners competing in the men's 8K open race at noon and the women's 6K open race at 12:45 p.m.

Weather Report
Saturday should be a pleasant day for distance running in Louisville, with the forecast calling for sunny skies and a high temperature near 60 degrees.

Scouting the Competition
Even though both Liberty teams will compete in the unseeded races at Pre-Nationals, they will still square off against numerous regionally ranked opponents.

In the men's 8K black race, 15 of the 33 teams are regionally ranked. The regionally ranked squads hail from the Great Lakes (No. 12 Miami (Ohio), No. 13 Central Michigan and No. 15 Milwaukee), Mountain (No. 11 Utah State, No. 12 Weber State and No. 13 Montana State), Northeast (No. 11 Brown and No. 15 UMass Lowell), South (No. 11 Tennessee and No. 14 Mississippi State), Southeast (No. 12 Liberty, No. 13 High Point and No. 15 Clemson), South Central (No. 14 Arkansas State) and West (No. 13 UC Santa Barbara).

Meanwhile, 19 of the 39 entrants in the women's 6K black race are regionally ranked. These include teams from the Great Lakes (No. 11 Central Michigan, No. 12 Indiana State, No. 13 Xavier and No. 15 Ohio), Midwest (No. 10 Kansas and No. 13 Northwestern), Mountain (No. 15 UTEP), Northeast (No. 14 Buffalo), South (No. 12 Tennessee), Southeast (No. 12 Coastal Carolina, No. 14 Louisville and No. 15 Furman), South Central (No. 11 Arkansas State, No. 14 TCU and No. 15 Houston) and West (No. 11 Arizona, No. 12 San Francisco, No. 13 UC Davis and No. 14 Washington State).

Final Big South Tune-up
Two weeks before the 2015 Big South Cross Country Championships, some of the conference's squads will battle head-to-head in Louisville.

Liberty, High Point and UNC Asheville are all entered in the men's black race, while Liberty, Coastal Carolina and UNC Asheville will each toe the line in the women's black race.

The Campbell men's squad will also compete in Louisville on Saturday, but the Camels have been placed in the men's red (seeded) race. Meanwhile, defending Big South women's champion High Point will forego Pre-Nationals in favor of Friday's Wake Forest Invitational.

Checking Out the Course
E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park will play host to the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships for the second time, Nov. 21. The facility previously played host to the 2012 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, where Liberty's Jennifer Klugh qualified as an individual for the women's race.

Liberty ran a pair of races at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park last season, including the Greater Louisville Classic and the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships. Thus, seven of the Flames and Lady Flames slated to run this Saturday have competed in previous races in Louisville, including men's runners Cameron Francis, Graham Hansel and Josh Showalter and women's runners Kat Bouton, Lindsey Bray, Caroline Parris and Terrill Zentmeyer.

The E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park course can yield pretty fast times when dry, as it should be on Saturday. Parris (18:56.07 5K and 23:07.7 6K) and Zentmeyer (18:59.67 5K) have each recorded personal-best cross country times in Louisville.

Looking Back at Last Year
At the 2014 ISU Pre-National Invitational in Terre Haute, Ind., the Lady Flames finished 25th in the white (non-seeded) race and the Flames came in 35th in the blue (seeded) race.

Jacy Christiansen led the Lady Flames with an 11th-place finish, marking the highest placement ever by a Lady Flame at Pre-Nationals. Graham Hansel (243rd place) is the highest-finishing Flame from last year's Pre-Nationals who will be racing on Saturday.

Past Performances at Pre-Nationals
Liberty men's runners have placed first at Pre-Nationals five times, including Josh McDougal's titles in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Sam Chelanga followed with first-place finishes in 2008 and 2010.

Chelanga's victory in the 2010 Pre-Nationals white race propelled the Flames to their highest team finish in meet history. Liberty came in 10th of 36 teams in the men's 8K white race that year, defeating No. 21 Tulsa and No. 25 Minnesota in the process.

On the women's side, Jacy Christiansen's 11th-place effort in the 2014 Pre-Nationals white race was the best-ever individual showing by a Lady Flame.

The Lady Flames' top Pre-Nationals team placement all-time was 23rd in the 2007 white race. Piper Newby led the charge with a then 6K school-record clocking of 21:22.5. Current assistant coach Rebekah Ricksecker was Liberty's No. 3 runner that day, placing 123rd overall in 22:01.8.

Stepping Up to the 6K
Saturday's race will mark the first time that Lady Flames freshmen Aryn Embretson, Ednah Kurgat, Kammi Kurtz, Torree Scull and Anna Van Wyk will compete in a 6K race during their young collegiate careers.

Kurgat could make a run at the Liberty women's cross country 6K record of 20:35.78, set by Jennifer Klugh at the 2012 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships in Charlotte, N.C. Kurgat's last race saw her break Klugh's program 5K record with a 17:11.1 effort at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational, Sept. 26 in Earlysville, Va.