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Liberty XC Ready for NCAA SE Regional, Friday

November 11, 2015  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Panorama Farms Information

Earlysville Weather

The Liberty men's and women's cross country teams will visit a familiar venue, Panorama Farms, for Friday's 2015 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships. The Flames' third visit to Earlysville, Va., this season will determine the qualifiers for the 2015 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.

The women's 6K race will get the day started at noon, followed by the men's 10K at 1 p.m.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results will be available, courtesy of Flash Results, Inc., including in-race splits and team scores.

Fans attending Friday's meet will be charged a $5 parking fee per vehicle.

Weather Report
After some wet weather in Central Virginia early in the week, Friday's forecast looks promising for distance running. The high temperature will be around 60 degrees with mostly sunny skies and a breeze out of the west.

Checking Out the Course
Liberty is quite familiar with the looping, undulating terrain of Panorama Farms, which is hosting the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships for the second time in three years. The Flames and Lady Flames opened the 2015 season at the UVa Duals on Sept. 2 and returned to Earlysville for the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational on Sept. 26.

Redshirt junior Jeremie Bourget will be racing at Panorama Farms for the sixth time in his career on Friday. He recorded an impressive 31st-place finish at the 2013 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships at Panorama Farms.

Meanwhile, redshirt senior Caroline Parris can do Bourget two better. She will be racing at Panorama Farms for the eighth and final time in her career this weekend.

Freshman Ednah Kurgat has fared well during her first two races at Panorama Farms this season. She won her collegiate debut race at the UVa Duals and placed seventh at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational in a Liberty women's cross country 5K record time of 17:11.1.

How to Punch Your Ticket to Louisville
The common goal for all men's and women's teams competing at Panorama Farms on Friday is to qualify for the 2015 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, to be contested Nov. 21 at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky. Here's what it takes:

Team Qualification: The top two teams at each of Friday's nine regional meets will automatically advance to the national meet. The national field will then be filled with 13 at-large selections, comprising a total of 31 men's and 31 women's teams which will compete in Louisville. The at-large squads will be determined using a formula based upon head-to-head success against other national qualifiers during the regular season.

Individual Qualification: All runners who place in the top 25 at the regional meet earn all-region recognition and become eligible for advancement to Louisville. The national meet features 38 individual competitors not on advancing teams. The top four finishers from each regional meet who are not part of a national-qualifying squad will punch their ticket to Louisville. Then, two at-large individuals will be added to round out the national field.

In summary, the only people who will know for sure that they are bound for Louisville on Friday are the top two teams in each race and the first four individuals who cross the finish line. The complete field of team and individual qualifiers to Louisville will be revealed Saturday on NCAA.com.

Women's 6K Preview
Team Outlook: After placing third at the Big South meet, the Lady Flames will look to continue their recent climb up the regional leaderboard. Liberty placed 23rd in 2013 before improving to 19th in 2014. The Lady Flames have finished inside the top 15 at this meet six times in the last 10 years, topped by a seventh-place showing in 2007.

Liberty will field a youthful roster on Friday, with its seven-runner lineup including four freshmen. The freshmen led the way for the Lady Flames at the Big South Championship, with Ednah Kurgat placing second, followed by classmates Torree Scull (10th), Anna Van Wyk (11th) and Aryn Embretson (16th).

After finishing just 11 points behind High Point and seven tallies behind Coastal Carolina at the Big South meet, Liberty will square off against its top conference rivals again on Friday.

William & Mary is the defending regional champion, but No. 6 Virginia and No. 8 NC State could be the teams to beat on Friday. The Cavaliers edged the Wolfpack for the ACC title on Oct. 30.

Individual Outlook: Ednah Kurgat has enjoyed a stellar freshman season for the Lady Flames. The Big South runner-up has set program records in both the 5K (17:11.1) and 6K (20:22.0) this fall and was named Big South Freshman of the Year.

Kurgat will try to join Heather Sagan (2000 and 2001) and Jennifer Klugh (2012) as the only Lady Flames to advance to the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. The best-ever finish by a Lady Flame at the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships is sixth, by Sagan in 2001 and Klugh in 2012. The highest placement by a Liberty freshman at this race is 18th, by Samantha Pelletier in 2001.

Last season, Coastal Carolina's Letitia Saayman and Kyla van Graan both qualified to the 2014 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships as individuals. Kurgat finished between conference champion Saayman and third-place van Graan at the Big South Championship on Oct. 31.

Several conference individual champions could be near the front of the pack on Friday, including Saayman (Big South), William & Mary's Emily Stites (CAA) and Furman's Allie Buchalski (Southern). Cleo Boyd of host Virginia and talented NC State freshman Ryen Frazier should be in the mix as well.

Men's 10K Preview
Team Outlook: Ranked No. 12 in the Southeast Region, Big South runner-up Liberty will look to improve upon its 15th-place finish at the 2014 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships. The Flames have placed in the top 10 during eight of their last 10 regional appearances, including a 10th-place effort at Panorama Farms in 2013.

Like the Lady Flames, the Liberty men's squad will have some new faces on the starting line Friday afternoon. Freshmen Azaria Kirwa, Louis Paone and James Zentmeyer will all make their debut at the 10K distance.

On the other end of the spectrum, redshirt junior Jeremie Bourget has run a number of strong 10Ks during his career. He placed 52nd at the 2012 regional meet and came in 31st two years ago. On the track, Bourget has finished in the top five of the Big South 10K final for three consecutive years and boasts a personal best of 30:56.07.

Liberty will look to top both first-time Big South champion Campbell and High Point, which has placed ahead of the Flames at this meet for two consecutive years.

Virginia edged Furman by four points for the 2014 Southeast Region title. This year, No. 10 NC State enters the meet as the highest-ranked team, trailed closely by No. 12 Virginia and No. 13 Furman. NC State came in second in the ACC, while Virginia was third. Furman defended its Southern Conference title by placing eight runners in the top 10.

Individual Outlook: Freshman Azaria Kirwa and redshirt junior Jeremie Bourget are expected to be Liberty's top two finishers on Friday.

Kirwa had served as Liberty's No. 1 runner throughout the season before placing second on the team and fifth overall at the Big South Championship on Oct. 31.

Bourget stepped up to lead the Flames at the Big South meet, finishing third. The Canada native owns the best regional finish of any active Flame, thanks to his 31st-place effort in 2013.

The Flames are looking for their first national qualifier in men's cross country since 2010, when both Sam Chelanga and Evans Kigen reached Terre Haute.

Virginia Tech's Thomas Curtin has enjoyed a memorable season, taking down defending national champion Edward Cheserek of Oregon and winning the ACC title in his last two outings. He will be favored to win on Friday, but Campbell freshman Lawrence Kipkoech could have something to say about it. He recorded the fastest 8K time in Big South Men's Cross Country Championship history on Oct. 31, blazing to a 23:39.