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Liberty Track to Compete at Virginia, Duke

April 20, 2016  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Steve Feister will compete in the invitational section of the men's javelin at the Virginia Challenge on Saturday.

Steve Feister will compete in the invitational section of the men's javelin at the Virginia Challenge on Saturday.

Virginia Challenge Schedule/Meet Information

Virginia Challenge Live Results

Virginia Challenge Entries

Charlottesville Weather

Duke Invitational Schedule

Duke Invitational Live Results

Duke Invitational Start Lists

Durham Weather

Liberty Gameday Twitter (@LUGameday)

The Liberty men's and women's outdoor track & field teams will compete at a pair of ACC institutions this week, as the Flames and Lady Flames will be divided between the Virginia Challenge and Duke Invitational.

The Virginia Challenge will be contested at Lannigan Field in Charlottesville, Va., with action beginning Friday at 10 a.m. and resuming Saturday at 9 a.m. Both days will feature a "Main Event" of highlighted races and field events, starting at 7 p.m. each evening.

Meanwhile, nine Flames and Lady Flames will compete in the 800-meter run at the Duke Invitational, Friday afternoon at Morris Williams Stadium in Durham, N.C. The women's 800 is set to begin Friday at 1:50 p.m., with the men's 800 to follow at 2:15 p.m.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results will be available at both meets, courtesy of Flash Results.

Additionally, periodic updates will be posted to the Liberty Gameday Twitter account (@LUGameday).

Weather Report
The high temperature in Charlottesville is expected to reach the upper 70s during both days of the Virginia Challenge. Friday's forecast features the threat of thunderstorms, while Saturday's forecast calls for abundant sunshine.

Durham's Friday forecast for the Duke Invitational includes a high in the mid 70s with a chance of afternoon thunderstorms.

Charting the Competition
The Virginia Challenge has rapidly become one of the region's most competitive meets. This year's meet will feature athletes from 63 different colleges and universities, as well as some past Olympians and 2016 Olympic hopefuls.

Numerous power conference teams will be represented in Charlottesville, including squads from the ACC (North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest), Big 10 (Michigan State, Minnesota and Northwestern), Big 12 (Iowa State and West Virginia) and SEC (Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt).

How Far Will It Fly?
Liberty's men's javelin duo of redshirt senior Steve Feister (234-7 season best) and freshman Denzel Pratt (220-1 season best) has combined for four first-place finishes this season. They will face some stiff competition Saturday at 3 p.m., however.

Four of the seven collegiate entrants in the Virginia Challenge's invitational section of the men's javelin boast personal bests beyond 230 feet, including Feister, William & Mary's Robert Smutsky (235-2), Navy's Jay Stell (234-1) and North Carolina's Houston Summers (233-0).

The field also includes post-collegiate athletes Barry Krammes (259-1) and Tom Masterson (238-11). Krammes has placed inside the top 10 at each of the last two U.S. Olympic Trials.

Feister has good memories of competing at Lannigan Field. His first competition after recovering from Tommy John surgery was the Virginia Cup on March 22, 2014. Feister won that event with a throw of 200-9.

Keeping Fast Company
Two-time defending Big South men's 400 hurdles champion Ryan Davis was seeded in the fastest section of the event at the Virginia Challenge, set for Saturday at 7:10 pm.

Davis' competition will be headlined by Nike's Bershawn "Batman" Jackson, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist and 2005 world champion in the men's 400 hurdles. Also entered in the heat are three hurdlers who competed in the 400 hurdles at the 2015 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, including Javonte Lipsey and Kenny Selmon of North Carolina and Desmond Palmer of Pittsburgh.

14 x 800
Liberty fared well at the 800-meter distance at last week's Big South Triangular, as Ansley Gebben and Delaney McDowell swept the top two spots in the women's race and the freshman duo of Michael Todd and Bradley Prentice went 1-2 in the men's race.

On Friday, 14 Liberty athletes will try their hand at the 800, including five at the Virginia Challenge and nine at the Duke Invitational.

Gebben and McDowell will compete in the 800 at the Virginia Challenge, Friday at 8:43 p.m. The field includes five collegiate runners who have clocked times under 2:08 this season and three post-collegiate athletes with personal bests faster than 2:05.

Twenty minutes later, Todd, Andrew Crowell and Colin Schultz will get their chance to run the 800 in Charlottesville. Seven entrants in the meet have dipped under the 1:49 mark already this season.

The Lady Flames entered in Friday's Duke Invitational women's 800 include Christieanna Apon, Riley Brandon, Hannah Scherlacher, Jasmin Sutton and Alexis Taylor. Brandon and Taylor's heat includes five of the top 11 women's 800 runners in the Big South this season. Brandon, coming off of an outdoor personal-best 2:15.95 effort at the Mt. SAC Relays Multi Events, will have a rare chance to compete in the 800 outside of a pentathlon or heptathlon.

Meanwhile, Prentice, Andrew Garrett, Luke Jelen and Jacob Onifer will compete in the Duke Invitational men's 800. Prentice, who recorded a personal-best 1:51.43 effort at the Big South Triangular, could be pushed to go even faster on Friday. The other seven runners in his heat include defending Big South outdoor men's 800 champion Paul O'Donoghue of High Point (who Prentice defeated at the Big South Triangular) and six runners with personal-best times of 1:50 or better.

Booking Flights to Florida
At this point of the season, it appears that five Liberty athletes are bound for the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet, which will take place May 26-28 in Jacksonville, Fla. These include the following:

Women's 5K – Ednah Kurgat
Women's Shot Put – Mychelle Cumings
Men's Discus – Fred Fulton
Men's Javelin – Steve Feister
Men's Javelin – Denzel Pratt

Ryan Davis has a shot to qualify in the men's 400 hurdles as well, as his time of 52.43 seconds currently ranks No. 25 in the East Region.

Big South's Best
With less than a month remaining until the 2016 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Liberty tops the Big South Conference performance list in the following events:

Women's 400 – Erin Edmond – 54.26
Women's 800 – Ansley Gebben – 2:10.69
Women's 5K – Ednah Kurgat – 15:48.63
Women's Shot Put – Mychelle Cumings – 48-11
Women's Heptathlon – Erika Jackson – 5,056
Men's 400 – Stephen Racanelli – 47.71
Men's 800 – Michael Todd – 1:51.11
Men's Discus – Fred Fulton – 173-5
Men's Javelin – Steve Feister – 234-7