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NCAA Southeast Regional Next Up for Liberty XC

November 8, 2017  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty's Azaria Kirwa and Campbell's Amon Kemboi are expected to be two of the top men's individuals on Friday.

Liberty's Azaria Kirwa and Campbell's Amon Kemboi are expected to be two of the top men's individuals on Friday.

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Women's 6K Course Map

Men's 10K Course Map

Panorama Farms Information

Earlysville Weather

The Liberty men's and women's cross country teams will make the short jaunt north to Earlysville, Va., for Friday's 2017 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships. The meet at Panorama Farms will determine the qualifiers for the 2017 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Ky.

The women's 6K will begin at 10:30 a.m., followed by the men's 10K race at 11:30.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Admission to Panorama Farms is free of charge, but spectators will be charged a $5 parking fee.

Meanwhile, live results including in-race splits and team scores, will be available courtesy of Flash Results, Inc.

Weather Report
After a wet week in central Virginia, Friday's weather in Earlysville should be dry. However, runners will face some of the fall's coolest weather to date, with temperatures forecasted for the upper 30s and lower 40s during the races.

Checking Out the Course
Liberty has become familiar with the looping, undulating terrain of Panorama Farms, which is hosting the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships for the third year in a row and the fourth time in five years. The Flames and Lady Flames began the 2017 season at the UVA Duals on Sept. 2.

Panorama Farms is known as one of the more challenging courses in the area. However, the Flames and Lady Flames should be well prepared for the hills after training on the new Liberty Cross Country Course this fall.

How to Punch Your Ticket to Louisville
The common goal for all men's and women's teams competing at Panorama Farms on Friday is to qualify for the 2017 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, to be contested Nov. 18 at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky. Here's what it takes:

Team Qualification: The top two teams at each of Friday's nine regional meets will automatically advance to the national meet. Liberty's region consists of teams from Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The national field will then be filled with 13 at-large selections, comprising a total of 31 men's and 31 women's teams which will compete in Louisville. The at-large squads will be determined using a formula based upon head-to-head success against other national qualifiers during the regular season.

Individual Qualification: All runners who place in the top 25 at the regional meet earn all-region recognition and become eligible for advancement to Louisville. The national meet features 38 individual competitors not on advancing teams. The top four finishers from each regional meet who are not part of a national-qualifying squad will punch their ticket to Louisville. Then, two at-large individuals will be added to round out the national field.

In summary, the only people who will know for sure that they are bound for Louisville on Friday are the top two teams in each race and the first four individual finishers who are not part of one of those teams. The complete field of team and individual qualifiers to Louisville will be revealed Saturday on

Women's 6K Preview
Team Outlook:
 Coming off of a third-place Big South finish, the Lady Flames will now look to improve upon their 22nd-place showing from the 2016 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championship. Liberty will also get another chance to battle Big South champion High Point and runner-up Campbell.

The Lady Flames return only two of their seven competitors from last year's regional meet, in junior Kammi Kurtz (144th place) and sophomore Kelly Shaffer (181st place).

Redshirt senior Alyssa Karle, who will wrap up her collegiate cross country career on Friday, placed 165th at the 2015 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championship at Panorama Farms. That is one of seven previous races the California native has contested at this course.

Liberty's lineup will be rounded out by four newcomers to the regional meet, including sophomore Brooke Turner and freshmen Lauren HirneisenMary Kate McElroy and Noel Palmer.

No. 5 NC State is favored to defend its Southeast Region championship, two weeks after capturing the ACC title.

Individual Outlook: Junior Kammi Kurtz is coming off of a career-best sixth-place finish at the Big South Championship. She also owns the top regional meet finish among Liberty's entries for Friday's race, thanks to her 144th-place effort a year ago. Kurtz has lowered her 6K personal best to 22:08 in 2017.

Freshman Noel Palmer has also fared well at the 6K distance this fall. She clocked a time of 21:25 at the Paul Short Run on Sept. 29, ranking her No. 7 on Liberty's all-time 6K list.

Friday's top individual contenders could include the champions from Conference USA (Charlotte's Caroline Sang), the Ohio Valley Conference (Eastern Kentucky's Charlotte Imer) and the Southern Conference (Furman's Allie Buchalski).

Men's 10K Preview
Team Outlook: After posting its fourth straight Big South runner-up finish, Liberty will aim to continue its upward trend in the regional standings. The Flames placed 15th at this meet in 2014, 14th in 2015 and ninth last season.

Ranked No. 9 in the Southeast Region entering Friday's race, Liberty is looking for best regional finish since coming in seventh in 2012. The Flames' best-ever performance at this meet is fifth place, in both 2007 and 2008.

Numerous national qualifiers are expected to come from the Southeast Region, headlined by No. 7 Furman, No. 9 Virginia Tech and No. 22 NC State. As a result, the Flames have a chance of being pushed into their first NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships team appearance with a great effort on Friday.

Liberty will look to build upon its strong team performance at the Big South Championship, where junior Azaria Kirwa (second place), redshirt sophomore James Zentmeyer (seventh), redshirt senior Samuel Proctor (10th), freshman Augostine Lisoreng (11th) and senior Graham Hansel (12th) all earned all-conference honors.

Kirwa (31st place) and Hansel (79th) are Liberty's only two returners from the 2016 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championship. Meanwhile, redshirt junior Louis Paone and Zentmeyer each raced at the 2015 regional meet.

The Flames will get another opportunity to face three-time defending Big South champion Campbell, which edged Liberty by four points at this year's conference meet. However, the Camels could be tough to beat in this type of meet, with the quartet of Amon Kemboi, Lawrence Kipkoech, Meshack Kipruto and Kelvin Kirui expected to run near the front of the pack.

Individual Outlook: Five months after making his NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships debut, Azaria Kirwa is expected to contend for his first trip to the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.

Kirwa placed a career-best 31st at the 2016 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championship, but the Eldoret, Kenya native has been even better this fall. He crossed the finish line second at both the Paul Short Run and Big South Championship, while coming in fourth at Pre-Nationals.

Kirwa's 8K time of 23:11.4 ranks No. 3 in program history, trailing only past NCAA men's cross country national champions Sam Chelanga and Josh McDougal. Kirwa could be even stronger at the 10K distance, as evidenced by his 29:05.57 clocking from the 2017 Raleigh Relays.

Kirwa has defeated numerous 2016 NCAA men's cross country All-Americans head-to-head this fall, including Utah State's Dillon Maggard, Arkansas' Alex George, Campbell's Lawrence Kipkoech and Colorado's Joe Klecker.

The Flames have not sent a men's runner to the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships since 2010, when both Sam Chelanga and Evans Kigen made it to Terre Haute.

Last year, Campbell's Amon Terer and Lawrence Kipkoech finished 1-2 at the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships. The Big South could be poised for another impressive showing on Friday, with Kirwa, Kipkoech and Big South champion Amon Kemboi of Campbell all figuring to contend for trips to Louisville.