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Flames XC Set to Host Season-Opening Liberty Challenge

August 28, 2019  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Flames XC Set to Host Season-Opening Liberty Challenge

Liberty Track & Field/Cross Country Twitter (@Liberty_XCTF)

Lynchburg Weather

The Liberty men's and women's cross country teams will open the 2019 season at home, playing host to the low-key Liberty Challenge, Friday at the Liberty Cross Country Course.

The women's 4K race will begin at 5 p.m., followed by the men's 4K at 5:30. The Flames and Lady Flames will square off against opponents from Virginia, VMI and the University of Lynchburg in their first home meet since Oct. 28, 2017.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Periodic updates will be posted to the Liberty Track & Field/Cross Country Twitter account, @Liberty_XCTF.

Weather Report
Friday's forecast for Lynchburg looks hot for distance running, with sunny skies and a high temperature near 90.

Checking Out the Course
The Liberty Cross Country Course is located adjacent to the Liberty Indoor Track Complex (1531 Liberty Mountain Drive, Lynchburg, VA 24502).

Friday's races will utilize a portion of the hilly course which hosted the 2017 Big South Cross Country Championships, Liberty's most recent home meet.

Lauren Hirneisen is the only Lady Flame racing on Friday who has previously raced on the Liberty Cross Country Course. Meanwhile, Nick Doan, Felix Kandie, Benjamin Klemmeck and Paul Squires from the men's squad each competed on the course two years ago.

Scouting the Competition
Virginia headlines the field for the Liberty Challenge. The Cavaliers' men's team begins the season at No. 2 in the Southeast Region and No. 23 nationally, while their women's squad checks in at No. 6 in the Southeast Region.

Ryan Drew's Liberty debut will see him compete against his former team, VMI. Drew made the Southern Conference All-Freshman Team for the Keydets in 2016.

Lynchburg Head Cross Country Coach Jake Reed was a three-year member (2008-10) of the Liberty men's cross country team. His men's squad is currently listed No. 5 in NCAA Division III's South/Southeast Region.

Great Expectations
Entering their second season of ASUN Conference competition, both the Liberty men's and women's teams were picked to finish second. The Flames and Lady Flames each posted ASUN runner-up finishes in 2018.

Liberty's men's team is ranked No. 12 in the Southeast Region to open the season, while the Lady Flames are listed No. 13. This is the Lady Flames' first regional ranking since Oct. 29, 2012.

Fresh Faces
Both of Liberty's distance coaches are beginning their first season coaching cross country for the Flames. Men's distance coach Isaac Wendland, a 2013 Liberty graduate, joined the Flames' coaching staff in January. Women's distance coach Rachel Johnson, an All-American during her time at Baylor, just arrived in Lynchburg earlier this month.

Thirteen of the 23 Lady Flames expected to compete on Friday will be making their first collegiate cross country appearance in a Liberty uniform, including Adelyn Ackley, Courtney Alexander, Brittany Carnathan, Madeline Hebert, Priscillah Kiplagat, Katie MacDougall, Abby Orvis, Bethany Park, Lauren Peurifoy, Vivian Reed, Chelsea Stocki, Kristiana Young and Emma Zealand.

Conversely, only two men's runners (Ryan Drew and Caleb Olson) will make their Liberty cross country debut at the Liberty Challenge.

Welcome Back
The Lady Flames return three All-ASUN runners from last season, including conference runner-up Noel Palmer, ASUN Freshman of the Year Calli Parlier and Lauren Hirneisen. However, Palmer and Parlier are expected to sit out Friday's race.

On the men's side, Liberty also brings back an All-ASUN trio in Nick Doan (the team's lone senior), Felix Kandie and Benjamin Klemmeck. Kandie went on to earn All-America honors in the steeplechase during the 2019 outdoor track & field campaign.

Up Next
Liberty will preview the course for the 2019 ASUN Cross Country Championships by competing in the FGCU Invitational on Sept. 7. The day's first race will go off at 8 a.m. at FGCU's Buckingham property in Fort Myers, Fla.