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Liberty Track to Open 2017 Outdoor Season at CSU

March 15, 2017  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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The beginning of the outdoor season means Denzel Pratt will get to throw the javelin for the first time in 2017.

The beginning of the outdoor season means Denzel Pratt will get to throw the javelin for the first time in 2017.

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Charleston Weather

On the heels of a successful indoor season, the Liberty men's and women's track & field teams will open their 2017 outdoor campaign at this weekend's CSU Spring Break Invitational. The meet will be contested Friday and Saturday at Bagwell-Settle Track in Charleston, S.C., site of the 2017 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Charleston Southern's first home meet since 2010 will begin with the men's hammer, Friday at 10 a.m. Saturday's schedule of events will get started at 9 a.m., with the men's discus and men's triple jump.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results will be available throughout the meet, courtesy of TimingInc.

Weather Report
Pleasant weather conditions are forecasted for Charleston this weekend. Friday's forecast calls for sunny skies and a high in the low 60s. Saturday will see the temperature warm up to around 70 degrees under partly cloudy skies with a breeze out of the southwest.

Scouting the Competition
Approximately 20 teams are entered in the CSU Spring Break Invitational. The other NCAA Division I squads expected to compete include Charleston Southern, The Citadel, College of Charleston, North Dakota, Northern Kentucky and South Carolina State.

A New Beginning
This weekend's meet will end a streak of 11 consecutive years (2006-16) that Liberty has opened its outdoor track & field season at the Coastal Carolina Invitational.

The last time the Flames and Lady Flames contested their outdoor season opener elsewhere was March 12, 2005, when Liberty competed in the Buc Invitational at the Bagwell-Settle Track in Charleston, S.C.

Fond Memories
The last time Liberty competed at the Bagwell-Settle Track, the Flames and Lady Flames swept the team titles at the 2010 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships (April 15-17, 2010). The victories completed the first and only "Double Triple" in conference history, following Liberty's sweep of the 2009 Big South men's and women's cross country championships and the 2010 Big South men's and women's indoor track & field crowns.

Current assistant coach Rebekah Ricksecker played a key role in the Lady Flames' 2010 conference title in Charleston. The Big South Women's Scholar-Athlete of the Year won the women's 1,500, placed as the 800 runner-up and came in sixth in the 5K.

Fresh Faces
A number of athletes are scheduled to make their Liberty track & field debuts this weekend in Charleston, including Samuel Arter (men's javelin), Erin Hansel (women's 800), Benjamin Klemmeck (men's 5K), Jaiden Mulder (women's 100 hurdles), Savannah Pidkaminy (women's javelin), Reilly Stroot (men's pole vault), Jack Tidball (men's 3K & 5K) and Valerie Wierenga (women's 5K).

Outdoor Outlook
Liberty should be strong in a number of the outdoor-only events during the 2017 season, including the 10K, 400 hurdles, 4 x 100 relay, steeplechase, discus, hammer and javelin. Below is a preview of some of the Flames' top outdoor-only disciplines.

Men's 10K: Liberty returns two scorers from the 2016 Big South men's 10K final in James Zentmeyer (fifth place) and Azaria Kirwa (seventh). Kirwa appears ready to shatter his 10K track personal best of 32:52.85 after clocking indoor times of 8:12.03 in the 3K and 14:11.36 in the 5K this season. Freshman Stanley Langat could also fare well at the 10K distance. The 22nd-place finisher in the 2016 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Cross Country Championship ran an 8:18.07 3K and a 14:39.00 5K indoors.

Women's 10K: Terrill Zentmeyer has only run the 10K once in her career, but it resulted in a fourth-place finish at the 2016 Big South meet in a time of 38:06.00. The Florida native is the second fastest returnee from the 2016 Big South women's 10K final.

Men's 400 Hurdles: Ryan Davis enters his senior season with two Big South titles and one runner-up finish in the men's 400 hurdles for his career. He also ranks No. 2 in program history at 51.23 seconds. Sophomore Michael Fairfax (54.49 personal best) placed fourth in the 2016 Big South 400 hurdles final. Senior Blake Kohring had lowered his 400 hurdles best to 54.88 a year ago prior to a season-ending injury. Redshirt freshman Samson Moore will make his collegiate 400 hurdles debut after posting a 300 hurdles time of 36.53 as a senior at Gaither High School (Fla.) in 2015.

Women's 400 Hurdles: Senior Mary Witmer owns the Liberty women's 400 hurdles record of 59.92 seconds and placed fourth in the 2015 Big South final. She will be joined by newcomer Klerianne Etanislao, a Puerto Rico native who clocked a 400 hurdles time of 58.58 in 2015.

Women's 4 x 100 Relay: Liberty has won back-to-back Big South women's 4 x 100 relay titles, and two legs (Nicole Leonzo and Dana Mercer) return from last year's championship squad. Junior Olivia Behymer lowered her 60 dash personal best to 7.83 seconds this season. Other relay options include freshmen Tanner Ealum (100 personal best of 12.12) and Ayanna Johnson (60 personal best of 7.87).

Men's Steeplechase: Junior Louis Paone made steady improvement in the steeplechase in 2016, dropping his time from 10:04.29 to 9:46.59 and ending up fifth in the Big South final.

Women's Steeplechase: The Lady Flames return the second (Alyssa Karle) and fourth-place (Kat Bouton) finishers from the 2016 Big South women's steeplechase final. Sophomore Kammi Kurtz only ran the steeplechase once as a freshman due to injury. But she will look to continue a breakthrough season which has included an eighth-place finish in the Big South Cross Country Championships and an indoor 3K time of 10:07.48.

Men's Discus: Liberty graduated the 2016 Big South men's discus champion (Fred Fulton) and runner-up (David Scouten), but sophomore Robert Detz gives the Flames a potential conference scorer in 2017. He reached 141-8 as a freshman a year ago.

Women's Discus: Junior Holly Arey saw her discus personal best go from 135-1 as a freshman to 151-11 as a sophomore. She also climbed from eighth place in the 2015 Big South women's discus final to fourth place in 2016 and seeks further improvement this season.

Women's Hammer: The 2016 Big South women's hammer fourth (Catherine Oyarzun – 180-2 personal best), seventh (Dasiana Larson – 185-5 personal best) and eighth-place (Holly Arey – 163-5 personal best) finishers are back for the Lady Flames. Larson went on to throw the hammer at the 2016 NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet. The event could be a bit more wide open at the Big South meet this spring, with Winthrop All-American Marthaline Cooper expected to redshirt the season.

Men's Javelin: Denzel Pratt will look to build upon an impressive freshman season which saw the Bahamas native throw the javelin 225-5, place third in the Big South and come in 17th at the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet. Decathlete Zach Davis has also thrown over 200 feet (202-2) during his career. Freshmen Caleb Hart (189-10 personal best) and Alexander Hoffsmith (188-8 personal best) will help provide depth in the event.

Women's Javelin: Junior Brenna Smith (140-10 personal best) has placed third in the Big South women's javelin competition during each of her first two seasons. Meanwhile, redshirt senior Nicole Bishop (137-10 personal best) placed fifth in the 2015 Big South javelin final before redshirting the 2016 season. Junior Holly Arey (121-10 personal best) has also scored points in the Big South javelin competition twice, including a seventh-place showing a year ago.