Day two of the third annual Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational began Saturday morning with a grand opening ceremony for the Liberty Indoor Track Complex. Afterwards, Liberty athletes posted a number of impressive performances at their new home facility, headlined by event victories for Zach Davis (men's high jump) and Colin Schultz (men's 1,000).
Davis and Schultz both notched IC4A qualifiers in the process, while Tanner Ealum punched her ticket to the ECAC meet in the women's 400.
The grand opening ceremony, held just prior to the start of running events, featured comments from Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr., Liberty Director of Athletics Ian McCaw and Liberty Track & Field Head Coach Brant Tolsma, a prayer by program founder and former Liberty Track & Field Head Coach Jake Matthes and a ribbon cutting at the finish line.
Men's Day Two Recap Schultz continued his blazing start to his redshirt junior season, winning the men's 1,000 by more than three seconds over Hampton's Geoffrey McCullough. Schultz's personal-best time of 2:26.32 broke the facility and meet records and gave him an IC4A qualifier in a third different event (also mile and 4 x 800 relay). Schultz now ranks No. 3 all-time in both Liberty and Big South Conference history for the five-lap race.
Teammate Andrew Crowell, who owned the men's 1,000 meet record prior to Saturday, placed third in 2:32.30. Michael Todd followed in seventh place at 2:36.38.
One week after winning the Liberty Kickoff heptathlon title, senior Zach Davis successfully high jumped 6-8.25, taking first place and meeting the IC4A standard.
Fittingly in a meet named for a 400-meter runner, the Flames' quarter-milers performed well on Saturday. Liberty took five of the top 12 places in the men's 400, led by freshman Jahquez Durham in third place with a Big South-leading time of 49.34. He was followed by Stephen Racanelli (ninth, 49.84), Jeff Jacobs (10th, 49.85), Ryan Davis (11th, 50.09) and Michael Todd (12th, personal-best 50.11).
Durham later clocked a season-best 200 time of 22.12 for seventh place in that event, prior to leading off the Flames' 4 x 400 relay squad.
Durham, Todd, Jacobs and Spencer Jamison teamed up for a season-best 4 x 400 time of 3:19.48, coming in fourth. Jamison's 48.9-second anchor split led the way for the Flames. Both the reigning Big South Men's Indoor Track & Field Athletes of the Week were in action for Liberty on Saturday. Big South Indoor Track Athlete of the Week Jovaine Atkinson placed third in the men's 60 hurdles semis in 8.08 seconds.
Meanwhile, Big South Indoor Field Athlete of the Week Darrel Jones came in a close third in his long jump season debut. His top mark of 22-10.5 was just 0.75 inches behind event champion Will Narramore. Freshman teammate Andre Wright placed fourth at 22-7 in his collegiate long jump debut.
Carson Waters made it over 16-4.75 in the pole vault for the second straight week, taking the runner-up position. Redshirt freshman Hudson Hall cleared 14-11 for fifth place in his Liberty debut, while Luke Moffett contributed a collegiate personal-best 14-11 clearance for the sixth position. Waters, Hall and Moffett now rank 1-2-3 in the Big South men's pole vault standings for the season.
Cameron Francis' personal-best 3K time of 8:27.80 was good for sixth place, while Bradley Prentice ran the 500 in 1:07.65 for ninth place.
Women's Day Two Recap Like their male counterparts, the Lady Flames fared well in the 400 on Saturday, led by Ealum. The Alaska native clocked 56.53 seconds for second place in the race and an ECAC qualifier. Ealum now ranks No. 1 in the Big South this season and No. 7 in program history after the first two meets of her collegiate career.
Nicole Leonzo added a fourth-place finish with her 400 time of 57.46, with Olivia Behymer's indoor personal-best 57.69 effort standing up for sixth place.
At the end of the meet, Ealum, Mary Witmer, Delaney McDowell and Behymer came in second in the 4 x 400 relay with a season-best 3:49.91 clocking. Behymer's 56.7 anchor leg split enabled the Lady Flames to overtake Virginia for the runner-up position.
McDowell's day also featured a third-place finish in the women's 1,000. The defending meet champion in the event clocked a new personal-best time of 2:55.17.
Witmer improved her 500 personal best to 1:16.70, taking fifth place in the event and climbing into fourth place on Liberty's all-time list.
Rounding out the running events, Leonzo came in 10th in the women's 200 at 25.38 while Christieanna Apon's season debut in the 800 was a ninth-place finish in 2:21.05.
Dana Mercer long jumped 18-7.75 for second place, with Big South Women's Indoor Field Athlete of the Week Janae Jones leaping 17-10.75 for fourth. Kylie Polsgrove reached out to 17-8.25, earning ninth place in the event.
Polsgrove also shared fifth place in the high jump at 5-5. Erin Zappia cleared a season-best 5-5 as well, but was awarded seventh place on misses.
Jessie Glynn pole vaulted 11-11.75, claiming fourth place.
Alumni Angle A large number of Liberty track & field alumni descended upon Lynchburg for the Liberty Indoor Track Complex's grand opening, and a number of them stuck around to compete in either a 60-meter dash or a 3K run at the end of the meet.
Mark Hopely, who graduated in 2011, posted arguably the best performance with a 3K time of 9:07.33 which would have defeated a number of the collegiate entrants earlier in the afternoon.
Up Next Liberty will take to the road for the first time this season, traveling to University Park, Pa., for the Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup. The team-scored meet will take place Friday and Saturday at Penn State's Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track.