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Liberty Men's XC Opens at No. 12 in Southeast

August 30, 2016  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Cameron Francis (left) and Josh Showalter (right) are two of the top returnees on the 2016 Liberty men's cross country team.

Cameron Francis (left) and Josh Showalter (right) are two of the top returnees on the 2016 Liberty men's cross country team.

The Liberty men's cross country team is ranked No. 12 in the Southeast Region to begin the 2016 season, as announced by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

Louisville captured the 2015 Southeast Region championship, but the Cardinals are ranked No. 3 in the preseason regional poll behind No. 1 Eastern Kentucky and No. 2 Virginia.

Liberty, which finished 14th at the 2015 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships, returns six of its seven competitors from that race. Three Flames returnees placed inside the top 100 that day, including redshirt senior Josh Showalter (58th place), sophomore Azaria Kirwa (68th) and junior Cameron Francis (94th).

The 2016 Flames have added redshirt senior Danny de Nijs, who finished 92nd at last year's NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships for VMI, and promising freshman Stanley Langat of Molo, Kenya.

Liberty was previously picked second in the Big South Conference behind Campbell, which appears at No. 9 in the Southeast Region to start the year.

The 2016 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships will be contested on Nov. 11 at Panorama Farms in Earlysville, Va. Liberty will preview the Panorama Farms course on Thursday, when the Flames and Lady Flames open the 2016 season at the UVa Duals. The men's and women's athletes will each contest 4K races, with the day's action starting at 6 p.m.

USTFCCCA Division I Southeast Region Men's Cross Country Rankings
1) Eastern Kentucky
2) Virginia
3) Louisville
4) Furman
5) NC State
6) Virginia Tech
7) North Carolina
8) Duke
9) Campbell
10) Kentucky
11) William & Mary
12) Liberty
13) Davidson
14) George Mason
15) Appalachian State