Ayanna Johnson posted victories in the women's 100 and long jump on Saturday.
A partial Liberty squad posted seven event victories at Saturday's WildCat Invitational, contested across town at Randolph College's WildCat Stadium. The Lady Flames' mid-distance and distance runners combined for four wins, while Ayanna Johnson posted a pair of first-place finishes and James Zentmeyer was victorious in his first track race in two years.
Most of assistant coach Rebekah Ricksecker's charges stepped down in distance on Saturday, with Heidi Smith and Calli Parlier winning two events apiece. Smith clocked an even 1:00.00 for victory in the first 400 of her collegiate career, while Parlier held off Ricksecker to win the women's 800 in 2:17.78.
Smith and Parlier then joined Chelsea Stocki and Jessica Rogers on the Lady Flames' winning 4 x 400 relay quartet, which crossed the finish line in 4:12.85.
Two weeks after setting the school record in the women's 10K, Noel Palmer dominated the women's 1,500. The sophomore's time of 4:41.61 left her seven seconds clear of the field.
Johnson's two victories were an encouraging sign, after the redshirt sophomore missed all of 2018 due to injury. Her winning long jump distance of 17-2.75 was her best mark of 2019, while she also took top honors in the 100 in 12.55 seconds.
The lone Flame to win a men's event on Saturday, Zentmeyer clocked a 5K time of 15:48.98. He had not run a race of any kind since the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships in cross country on Nov. 9.
Zentmeyer's fiancée, Kelly Shaffer, continued the comeback theme of the day. She had not competed in an outdoor track event during her three years at Liberty prior to Saturday due to injury. However, Shaffer was able to win her heat of the women's 1,500 in 5:01.62, making her one of 10 Lady Flames among the event's top 12 finishers.
Senior sprinter Greg Edwards was able to compete for the first time in over two months and raced to a runner-up finish with his 200 time of 22.25 seconds.
The only runner to defeat Edwards in the half-lap race was teammate Christian Lyon, who is redshirting the 2019 season. Lyon ran away with the victory in both the men's 100 (10.55) and 200 (21.58 into a headwind).
Women's Event Winners Ayanna Johnson – 100 – 12.55 and Long Jump – 17-2.75 Noel Palmer – 1,500 – 4:41.61 Calli Parlier – 800 – 2:17.78 Heidi Smith – 400 – 1:00.00 Chelsea Stocki, Calli Parlier, Heidi Smith, Jessica Rogers – 4 x 400 – 4:12.85
Men's Event Winners James Zentmeyer – 5K – 15:48.98
Other Women's Top 3 Finishers 2nd – Shelby Henke – 100 – 12.85 2nd – Faith Sheehan – 200 – 26.30 3rd – Emma Bower – 1,500 – 4:48.63 3rd – Natalee Cole – 800 – 2:19.35 3rd – Shelby Henke – 200 – 26.86 3rd – Clara Lynch – 3K Steeplechase – 12:41.92 3rd – Faith Sheehan – 100 – 12.93
Other Men's Top 3 Finishers 2nd – Greg Edwards – 200 – 22.25 (Top attached finisher) 2nd – Benjamin Fouse – 800 – 1:57.01 (Top collegiate finisher)
Up Next Liberty's athletes will be split between meets at two different ACC venues next weekend. Some Flames and Lady Flames will remain in the Commonwealth for the Virginia Challenge, Friday and Saturday at Lannigan Field in Charlottesville, Va.
Other Liberty athletes will venture to Morris Williams Stadium in Durham, N.C., for the Duke Invitational, also slated for Friday and Saturday.
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