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Atkinson, Jones and Jones Headline Record-Breaking Day

January 21, 2017  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Anna Van Wyk won the women's mile on Saturday with an ECAC-qualifying time of 4:53.88.

Anna Van Wyk won the women's mile on Saturday with an ECAC-qualifying time of 4:53.88.

The host Flames closed out the season-opening Liberty Kickoff in style on Saturday at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex, breaking three long-standing program records among numerous other standout performances. The Flames' record breakers included Jovaine Atkinson (men's 60 hurdles – 7.94), Darrel Jones (men's triple jump – 50-9.25) and Janae Jones (women's triple jump – 40-8.25).

Janae Jones, Anna Van Wyk (women's mile), Zach Davis (men's heptathlon) and Carson Waters (men's pole vault) won their respective events, with all but Jones establishing facility records during the first-ever collegiate competition at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex.

Liberty also racked up nine IC4A-qualifying marks and four ECAC qualifiers on Saturday, highlighted by a trio of IC4A-bound men's triple jumpers (Jones, Andre Wright and Jonny Saintil).

Olympian Bershawn "Batman" Jackson thrilled the crowd with his facility-record 500 time of 1:01.41, which ranks No. 2 in the world for 2017.

Women's Day Two Recap
Janae Jones' triple jump of 40-8.25 eclipsed the previous school record of 40-7.75, set by Jonisha Saunders on March 1, 2003. The ECAC-qualifying leap enabled Jones to defeat reigning Big South indoor and outdoor women's triple jump champion Sabina Allen of Campbell and climb to No. 6 on the Big South's all-time list.

Making her collegiate track debut, Van Wyk picked up where she left off during her breakthrough 2016 cross country campaign. The Minnesota native won the mile in 4:53.88, punching her ECAC ticket. Van Wyk, who finished just 0.11 off of the Liberty freshman record, now ranks seventh in program history for the event.

Teammate Terrill Zentmeyer won her heat of the mile and took eighth place overall, improving her personal best by six seconds to 5:17.91.

Sophomore Delaney McDowell had a hand in the Lady Flames' other two ECAC qualifications, beginning with her 2:55.36 clocking in the 1,000. The 2016 Big South Freshman of the Year finished second in the event and moved into fourth place in program history.

McDowell then ran the second leg for Liberty's ECAC-bound 4 x 400 relay team, which also featured Mary Witmer, Olivia Behymer and Tanner Ealum. The Lady Flames came in third with a 3:50.27 clocking, becoming the ninth-fastest quartet in Liberty annals. Ealum posted the team's fastest split with a 56.3-second anchor leg carry.

Earlier in the day, Ealum came in second at 400 meters. Her time of 57.00 ranks No. 9 all-time for the Lady Flames and places the freshman second in the Big South this season.

Witmer also preceded her 4 x 400 effort with a top-five individual finish. The senior's personal-best 500-meter time of 1:17.04 netted fourth place in the event and fifth place on the Lady Flames' all-time chart.

Sophomore Kammi Kurtz lowered her 3K personal best by 10 seconds, crossing the finish line in 10:35.84, the second-fastest time in the Big South this year.

Rounding out the track events, Dana Mercer made the 60 final amongst a field of 101 entrants. She went on to place 13th in a time of 7.87.

Mercer also captured fourth place in the long jump at 18-3.25. She was trailed closely by freshman teammate Ayanna Johnson, who reached 17-9.5 for the sixth position.

After finishing third in Friday's weight throw competition, junior Dasiana Larson added a third-place showing in the shot put on Saturday. Her top mark of 43-5 ranks second on the yearly Big South list.

Erin Zappia high jumped 5-3, putting her in a tie for fifth place in the final standings.

Men's Day Two Recap
After being limited to one meet in 2016 due to injury, redshirt freshman Jovaine Atkinson quickly made his mark in his 2017 debut. The native of Jamaica sped to an IC4A-qualifying time of 8.07 in the men's 60 hurdles prelims, taking down the school record of 8.08 which Ken Howell had owned since Feb. 21, 1999.

Atkinson then improved the record to 7.94 while finishing second in the 60 hurdles final. That time ties him for No. 24 nationally this season, including fourth among freshman. It also ranks No. 4 all-time in the Big South Conference.

Darrel Jones' first leap of the men's triple jump competition measured 50-9.25, breaking the previous Liberty record of 50-6, set by Clarence Powell on Jan. 22, 2010. Jones, who followed up that effort with two other marks past the 50-foot line, leapfrogged to No. 2 on the Big South all-time ledger.

Jones' other two teammates nabbing IC4A qualifiers in the triple jump were freshman Andre Wright (sixth place, 48-10) and redshirt sophomore Jonny Saintil (ninth place, 47-10). Wright's effort ranks him No. 5 on Liberty's all-time top 10 list.

Waters opened his junior season with a victory, thanks to his first-attempt clearance over 16-4.75. The mark won the event by more than a foot, eclipsed the IC4A standard, broke the facility record and tops the 2017 Big South performance list.

Senior Zach Davis (4,957) held off freshman teammate Markus Ballengee (4,943) by 14 points, as the Liberty duo finished 1-2 in the heptathlon. Ballengee slides into ninth place in program history after his collegiate multi-event debut.

Davis matched his best-ever pole vault clearance within a heptathlon (14-1.25). Meanwhile, Ballengee recorded the fastest 60 hurdles time among the competitors, 8.43.

A speedy mile race saw Liberty's Cameron Francis and Colin Schultz each grab IC4A qualifiers. Francis came in fifth in 4:14.48 (No. 8 all-time at Liberty), just in front of Schultz in sixth place at 4:14.50 (No. 9 all-time at Liberty). Azaria Kirwa followed in eighth place with a 4:17.10 clocking.

Freshman Jahquez Durham was a part of two IC4A qualifications on the day, beginning with his 14th-place finish in the 200 at 22.16 seconds.

Durham then joined Ryan Davis, Stephen Racanelli and Jeff Jacobs in placing third in the 4 x 400 relay, dipping under the IC4A standard at 3:19.66. Racanelli's 48.2-second split paced the quartet.

Competing at the 500-meter distance for the first time in his career, Spencer Jamison placed fourth in 1:05.72.

Andrew Crowell added a fifth-place finish at 1,000 meters, crossing the line in 2:31.46.

Up Next
Liberty will now prepare to host the third annual Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational, Jan. 27-28 at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex. The facility's Grand Opening ceremony, featuring comments from Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr., Liberty Director of Athletics Ian McCaw and Liberty Track & Field Head Coach Brant Tolsma along with a ribbon cutting, will take place Jan. 28 at 10:30 a.m.