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Liberty XC Returns to Action at Pre-National Invitational

October 17, 2019  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty XC Returns to Action at Pre-National Invitational

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Meet Information

Terre Haute Weather

The Liberty men's and women's cross country teams will compete in their lone race during the month of October on Saturday, traveling to Terre Haute, Ind., for the Pre-National Invitational.

The Lady Flames are entered in the women's blue (seeded) 6K race at 11 a.m. with the Flames to follow in the men's blue (seeded) 8K race at 11:35. Benjamin Klemmeck and Paul Squires will compete in the men's open 8K at 2:05 p.m., rounding out the day's six races.

The meet will take place at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course, site of the 2019 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live video streaming of Saturday's races will be available with a paid subscription to FloTrack.

Live results, including in-race splits, will also be provided by Prime Time Timing.

Weather Report
The weather should be pleasant for distance running on Saturday with mostly sunny skies and a high of 70 degrees.

Checking Out the Course
The LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course will be playing host to the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships for the 13th time in 18 years next month.

Some of the greatest moments in Liberty cross country history have taken place in Terre Haute. All three of the Flames' NCAA Division I men's cross country individual titles have been won there, including Josh McDougal's crown in 2007 and Sam Chelanga's back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010.

Chelanga owns the men's 8K (22:51.3) and 10K (28:41.3) course records, both of which stand as Liberty's school records.

Liberty is competing in Terre Haute for the first time since the 2016 ISU Pre-National Invitational (Oct. 15, 2016). None of the 16 Liberty runners competing on Saturday own prior collegiate race experience at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course.

Scouting the Competition
Liberty will be tested at the national, regional and ASUN Conference levels on Saturday.

The Lady Flames are part of a 37-team field which features 10 nationally ranked teams, headlined by No. 2 BYU and No. 3 Colorado.

Every team in the women's blue race is ranked No. 12 or better within its respective region. The Lady Flames enter the weekend at No. 9 in the Southeast Region, matching their highest regional ranking in program history.

The Liberty women's team will face four of the eight teams currently ranked ahead of them in the Southeast, including Virginia Tech (No. 3), Duke (No. 4), Kentucky (No. 6) and North Carolina (No. 7).

The Lady Flames will get their first head-to-head look at defending ASUN champion Lipscomb in 2019, two weeks before the ASUN Conference Championships.

There are also 10 nationally ranked squads within the 38-team men's blue race field, featuring No. 2 BYU and No. 3 Colorado.

The Flames will have a chance to improve upon their No. 13 Southeast Region ranking on Saturday, squaring off against Virginia Tech (No. 4), Duke (No. 5), Louisville (No. 8) and Campbell (No. 9), Kentucky (No. 11) and North Carolina (No. 12).

Liberty will tangle with Lipscomb, one of the other two primary contenders (along with defending champion North Florida) for the ASUN men's team title.

Past History at Pre-Nationals
Liberty has enjoyed past success at Pre-Nationals, including five men's individual titles in a span of six years. Josh McDougal won the men's 8K white race for three consecutive years (2005-07), before Sam Chelanga took top honors in the men's 8K white race in both 2008 and 2010.

The men's team has recorded Liberty's only top-10 team finishes in a Pre-Nationals seeded race, coming in 10th in both 2010 and 2017.

Saturday's competition will mark the seventh straight year Liberty has competed at the Pre-Nationals meet.

Talented Team
The Lady Flames are off to one of the best starts in program history, earning a No. 9 Southeast Region ranking which matches their best-ever regional listing.

Liberty won the FGCU Invitational title on Sept. 7 before topping Florida and host Virginia to place fifth of 15 teams at the Sept. 27 Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational. The Lady Flames showcased their impressive team depth later that day, claiming eighth place of 39 teams at the Queen City Invite with their "B" squad.

The youthful Lady Flames are sending five sophomores and two freshmen to Terre Haute. They are under the direction of first-year coach Rachel Johnson. Johnson closed out her collegiate cross country career in style in Terre Haute, placing fifth at the 2014 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships while competing for Baylor.

Amazing Adelyn
Adelyn Ackley has paced the women's cross country team with an incredible start to her freshman season. The native of Mears, Mich., was the women's individual champion at both the Liberty Challenge and FGCU Invitational in her first two collegiate races.

Ackley then placed seventh at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational in her most recent outing. She was the only freshman to finish inside the top 10 and matched the best-ever placement by a Lady Flame at that particular meet.

Ackley clocked a time of 20:45.2 in her 6K debut at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational which already ranks No. 4 on Liberty's all-time list. The only Lady Flames ever to clock faster cross country 6K times are Ednah Kurgat (20:06.7 in 2015), Noel Palmer (20:27.0 in 2018) and Jennifer Klugh (20:35.8 in 2012).

Keeping Up with Kandie
Redshirt sophomore Felix Kandie has defeated 237 of the 239 runners who have opposed him during this season's first three races. He captured the first two individual cross country titles of his career at the Liberty Challenge and FGCU Invitational. The Eldoret, Kenya native then placed a Liberty all-time best third at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational.

Kandie produced an 8K personal-best time of 24:09.2 at UVA, knocking on the door of becoming the seventh Flame ever to break 24 minutes. Liberty's sub-24:00 club currently consists of Sam Chelanga (22:51.3 in 2008), Josh McDougal (22:56.4 in 2007), Azaria Kirwa (23:11.4 in 2017), Jordan McDougal (23:46 in 2005), Zac Edwards (23:56 in 2011) and Josh MacDonald (23:59.3 in 2013).

Up Next
Liberty will seek its first-ever ASUN Conference team titles in two weeks. The 2019 ASUN Cross Country Championships are slated for Nov. 2 at the Buckingham Course in Fort Myers, Fla. The men's 8K will begin at 8:30 a.m., followed by the women's 5K at 9:30.