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Liberty Track to Face Elite Competition at Home, at Iowa State

February 7, 2018  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Jessie Glynn will be featured in one of the Liberty Elite Invitational's first events Saturday morning, the 10 a.m. women's pole vault.

Jessie Glynn will be featured in one of the Liberty Elite Invitational's first events Saturday morning, the 10 a.m. women's pole vault.

Liberty Elite Invitational Schedule

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Liberty Indoor Track Complex

Iowa State Classic Meet Information Page

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Iowa State Classic Live Results

On its final weekend of competition prior to the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships, Liberty will be tested at two different venues. The Flames and Lady Flames will play host to the second annual Liberty Elite Invitational on Saturday, while men's distance runners Azaria Kirwa, Samuel Proctor and Colin Schultz are entered in the Iowa State Classic, Friday and Saturday in Ames, Iowa.

The Liberty Elite Invitational, featuring an eight-team field, will begin with the men's weight throw Saturday at 9 a.m. Running events inside the Liberty Indoor Track Complex will commence one hour later with the men's 5K.

Many of the nation's top distance runners will be in action at the Iowa State Classic at the Lied Recreation Athletic Center. Kirwa and Proctor will race in sections of the men's 5K on Friday, while Schultz is entered in the men's mile on Saturday.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live video streaming of the Iowa State Classic will be available with a paid subscription to FloPro.

Live results will be available throughout both the Liberty Elite Invitational and Iowa State Classic.

Additionally, the Liberty Elite Invitational will feature a virtual scoreboard option, courtesy of Blue Ridge Timing.

Additionally, periodic updates will be posted to the Liberty Track & Field/Cross Country Twitter account, @Liberty_XCTF.

Scouting the Competition
The Liberty Elite Invitational will feature eight teams, including representatives from the American (East Carolina), Big South (Charleston Southern, High Point and Liberty), CAA (Elon), Conference USA (Charlotte), MEAC (North Carolina A&T) and Southern Conference (ETSU).

About the Facility
The 169,000-square-foot Liberty Indoor Track Complex is highlighted by a six-lane, 200-meter, hydraulically banked oval. The facility, which includes permanent seating for approximately 1,500 spectators, also boasts ample space for athletes. Competitors are availed a sizeable mezzanine area which sits above an eight-lane, 100-meter warm-up straightaway.

Other amenities in the facility include a 6,000-square-foot weight room, a 3,000-square-foot training room and underwater treadmill, a coaches' hospitality room with windows that overlook the track, a concessions area, a press box, a scoreboard with live results, ample restrooms, locker rooms and office space.

The Liberty Indoor Track Complex opened in January 2017 and has seen records broken ever since. Most recently, Virginia Tech's Rachel Pocratsky ran the seventh-fastest women's 1,000-meter time (2:41.98) in collegiate history at the Liberty Kickoff on Jan. 27.

The Flames will host four meets at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex this season. Still to come are the 2018 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships (Feb. 23-24).

The Liberty Indoor Track Complex is located beneath the LU monogram off of Candlers Mountain Road. The road leading back to the facility may be found directly across the street from the Fairfield Inn & Suites. The hotel's address is 3777 Candlers Mountain Road, Lynchburg, VA 24502.

Undefeated Atkinson
Jovaine Atkinson has yet to lose a men's 60 hurdles race this season, winning all five of his preliminary and final heats between the Keydet Invitational and Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational. The redshirt sophomore from Spanish Town, Jamaica is tied for No. 7 nationally with his school-record time of 7.75 seconds.

Atkinson will be challenged to keep his streak going on Saturday, due to two factors. One is the presence of North Carolina A&T's Michael Dickson. He won the Liberty Kickoff men's 60 hurdles title in Atkinson's absence in a facility-record time of 7.81 which is tied for No. 18 on the national list.

Fatigue is another possible factor, as Atkinson is also entered in the men's 60 dash on Saturday. If he qualifies for both finals, his morning schedule would look like the following.

10:45 a.m. – Men's 60 hurdles prelims
11:05 a.m. – Men's 60 dash prelims
11:35 a.m. – Men's 60 hurdles final
11:45 a.m. – Men's 60 dash final

Up and Over
The pole vault runway has produced some of the Liberty Indoor Track Complex's most thrilling action this season, as Austin Miller won the Liberty Kickoff men's pole vault at 17-10.5 and fellow post-collegiate competitor Scott Houston cleared 18-8.25 at last week's Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational.

Both Miller and Houston appear on the start list for Saturday's men's pole vault competition, set for a 1 p.m. start. They will be joined by top collegians Keon Howe of Charlotte and Carson Waters of Liberty, both of whom have been over 17 feet in 2018. Additionally, Flames sophomore Markus Ballengee has already pushed his personal best from 14-7.25 in 2017 to 16-2.75 this season.

Earlier in the day, at 10 a.m., the Big South's top three women's vaulters of 2018 will go head to head for the second straight weekend, in High Point's Nathalie Elliott and Liberty's Jessie Glynn and Rachel Milnes. At the Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational, Elliott came in fourth, Milnes was sixth and Glynn took seventh place.

Go the Distance
Junior Azaria Kirwa (men's 5K), redshirt senior Samuel Proctor (men's 5K) and redshirt senior Colin Schultz (men's mile) will aim for fast times at the Iowa State Classic.

Kirwa will be racing his first 5K since contesting the event at the 2017 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. He has set personal-best times for the mile (4:11.87) and 3K (8:07.04) in his first two races of the 2018 indoor campaign. Kirwa's fastest indoor 5K is 14:11.36 and his overall personal best stands at 14:00.29. The nation's 16th-fastest time this season is 14:15.60, but that is likely to change this weekend.

Seven of the top 10 men's finishers at the 2017 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships are slated to run the 5K at Iowa State, including national champion Justyn Knight of Syracuse. Campbell's talented duo of Amon Kemboi and Lawrence Kipkoech is also entered.

Proctor will be running his first 5K in a Liberty uniform on Friday. He posted an overall personal best of 14:29.01 and an indoor best of 14:39.65 while competing for Grand Canyon.

Schultz, who owns the Big South's fastest 800 (1:51.85) and 1,000 (2:25.13) times this season, will run his first mile of 2018. He will look to improve significantly upon his mile personal best of 4:11.62 after clocking a 3:46.28 1,500 during the 2017 outdoor campaign. Josh McDougal set the Liberty and Big South indoor mile records at 4:01.63 in 2006. A time of 3:59.05 currently ranks No. 16 nationally.

Schultz will face a familiar foe in Ames, Campbell's Kelvin Kirui. Kirui edged Schultz for second place in the 2017 Big South indoor men's mile final.

Program Records, Beware!
Liberty has broken program records during each of its first three meets to begin the 2018 indoor track & field season, including a pair at last weekend's Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational.

Senior Darrel Jones broke his own men's triple jump record with a leap of 50-11.5. Meanwhile, the women's shuttle hurdles relay quartet of Jaiden Mulder, Kylie Polsgrove, Kimone Green and Katie Dodson ran a program-record time of 35.08.

Big South's Best
Liberty's Darrel Jones (Big South Men's Indoor Field Athlete of the Week) and Naomi Mojica (Big South Women's Indoor Field Athlete of the Week) were both honored by the conference on Wednesday.

Jones, now a seven-time Big South Athlete of the Week for his career, is slated to take this weekend off. Meanwhile, freshman Mojica is entered in the Liberty Elite Invitational women's shot put and women's weight throw on Saturday.

Big South's Best, Part 2
With the 2018 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships just two weeks away, numerous Liberty athletes rank No. 1 in the conference for their respective events.

They include Jovaine Atkinson (men's 60 hurdles, 7.75), Markus Ballengee (men's heptathlon, 5,523), Ty'Asia Dansbury (women's 200, 24.90), Cortney Dowling (women's 400, 55.39), Jahquez Durham (men's 400, 49.26), Darrel Jones (men's triple jump, 50-11.5), Dasiana Larson (women's weight throw, 63-0), Chukwuma Maduka (men's 60, 6.90), Delaney McDowell (women's 800, 2:11.86), Naomi Mojica (women's shot put, 51-3), Jaiden Mulder (women's 60 hurdles, 8.76), Kylie Polsgrove (women's pentathlon, 3,670), Colin Schultz (men's 800, 1:51.85), Carson Waters (men's pole vault, 16-8.75) and Erin Zappia (women's high jump, 5-7).

Liberty also tops the Big South list in both the men's (3:12.95) and women's (3:43.39) 4 x 400 relays.

Competing for College Station
At season's end, the nation's top 16 performers in each event will be invited to compete at the 2018 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. The meet is slated for March 9-10 in College Station, Texas.

At this juncture of the season, Jovaine Atkinson is tied for No. 7 nationally in the men's 60 hurdles (7.75). Liberty has not had a male athlete qualify for the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships since Sam Chelanga ran the 3K and 5K in 2011. Additionally, the Flames have never sent a hurdler to the meet.

Looking Ahead
Most Liberty athletes will take next weekend off from competition in preparation for the 2018 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships, which will be held on Liberty's campus for the first time, Feb. 23-24 at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex.

Darrel Jones is an exception, as he will travel to Albuquerque, N.M., to triple jump at the 2018 USATF Indoor Track & Field Championships on Feb. 18.