Freshman Stanley Langat earned all-region honors with his 22nd-place finish at Friday's 2016 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships.
Freshman Stanley Langat finished an impressive 22nd in the men's 10K at Friday's 2016 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships, helping Liberty place ninth in the men's team standings. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames came in 22nd in the women's standings in the races contested at Panorama Farms.
Langat was one of three Flames to place inside the top 50, as the Liberty men's squad totaled 255 points for ninth place out of 29 squads. It marked the Flames' best performance at this meet since a seventh-place finish in 2012. Up front, No. 27 NC State won the regional title with 90 points, while No. 16 Virginia edged Furman by one point (105-106) for the second and final automatic qualifying berth to the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.
In the women's 6K, sophomore Anna Van Wyk's 72nd-place finish contributed to the Lady Flames' team total of 601 points. Liberty ended up 22nd among the 32 women's teams. No. 2 NC State ran away with first place with 53 points, while Louisville (second place, 163 points), Kentucky (third, 164) and Furman (fourth, 168) were all tightly bunched for the coveted runner-up spot.
Men's 10K Recap Langat wrapped up his stellar freshman season by clocking a time of 30:02.9 for the undulating 10K course. That left him in 22nd place out of 210 entrants, including third among freshmen.
Langat became the Flames' first men's all-region (top 25) runner since Josh MacDonald in 2013 and the first Liberty freshman male to do so since Josh McDougal in 2004. As he was two weeks ago at the Big South meet, Langat was the third conference finisher on the day, following regional champion Amon Terer and regional runner-up Lawrence Kipkoech, both of whom compete for Campbell.
Sophomore Azaria Kirwa continued his late-season surge, placing 31st in 30:16.6, after moving up 15 places during the final two kilometers. Kirwa improved significantly upon his 68th-place regional finish from 2015 and sliced more than a minute off of his time from that race.
Redshirt senior Josh Showalter closed out his collegiate career with his best-ever regional placement (46th) and his fastest 10K time (30:32.4).
Like Kirwa, Graham Hansel was a big mover during the closing stages, passing 14 runners during the final 2K on Friday. The junior ended up in 79th place with a time of 31:19.9. Entering the day, Hansel's best career regional finish was 138th and his 10K PR stood at 32:38.9.
Junior Cameron Francis joined in on his teammates' best regional finish/PR party, crossing the line in 85th place with a 31:24.8 effort.
Liberty's final two competitors were both taking part in their final collegiate cross country race on Friday, including redshirt senior Danny de Nijs (108th place, 31:49.9) and redshirt junior Luke Jelen (142nd place, 32:34.6). For Jelen, it represented his first-ever 10K race, either on the track or the cross country course.
Women's 6K Recap Van Wyk posted a 6K time of 22:06.1 for 72nd place in the 228-runner field. The Big South runner-up improved by 10 places and 43 seconds over her regional meet debut as a freshman in 2015. She was also the second Big South women's finisher on Friday, trailing a 16th-place performance by Campbell's Joan Maritim.
Senior Terrill Zentmeyer's final collegiate cross country race resulted in a 90th-place finish in a 6K personal-best time of 22:20.4. The Florida native passed 15 runners during the final kilometer, wrapping up her significant improvement over her previous best regional showing (207th place in 2014).
The Lady Flames' final three scorers finished within a 15-second span, beginning with sophomore Kammi Kurtz in 144th place at 23:04.7.
Seniors Lindsey Bray (150th place, 23:12.4) and Kat Bouton (157th place, 23:19.9) served as Liberty's No. 4 and 5 scorers, respectively, in their collegiate cross country finale. For Bouton, it was her 10th career race at Panorama Farms.
Rounding out the Lady Flames' competitors were a pair of freshmen, including Valerie Wierenga (170th place, 23:32.9) and Kelly Shaffer (181st place, 23:49.3).
A Look Back Friday's races marked the end of Liberty's 2016 cross country season. The year was highlighted by the Lady Flames' first Big South championship since 2012, which marked Brant Tolsma's 100th conference title at Liberty. Meanwhile, the men's squad took the Big South runner-up spot for its 14th consecutive top-two finish at the conference meet.