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15th Liberty Kickoff Set for Friday and Saturday

January 22, 2020  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Jose Ballivian will be part of a competitive men's shot put field Saturday afternoon at the Liberty Kickoff.

Jose Ballivian will be part of a competitive men's shot put field Saturday afternoon at the Liberty Kickoff.

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The Liberty men's and women's indoor track & field teams will open their 2020 home schedule this Friday and Saturday, playing host to the 15th annual Liberty Kickoff at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex.

This weekend's meet will feature approximately 1,200 athletes from 35 colleges and universities. Events will begin Friday at noon with the pentathlon 60-meter hurdles. Action will resume Saturday at 9 a.m. with the start of the men's weight throw. Admission is free of charge to all spectators for both days of competition.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results will be available throughout the Liberty Kickoff, courtesy of Blue Ridge Timing.

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

Scouting the Competition
The Lady Flames will square off against ASUN Conference rival Kennesaw State this weekend, five weeks before the two squads do battle on the same track at the ASUN Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Other NCAA Division I squads entered in the Liberty Kickoff include Coastal Carolina, Elon, Hampton, James Madison, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Morgan State, North Carolina Central, UNCW and Wofford.

The schools and universities scheduled to compete hail from nine different states and the District of Columbia. NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, NAIA, NCCAA and NJCAA institutions will all take part in the meet. Defending NAIA national champion Indiana Tech is one of the small-school squads to watch.

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.

The Liberty Indoor Track Complex opened in January 2017 and has seen records broken ever since. Most recently, national high school records were set in the girls' 500 dash and 3K race walk at last weekend's Virginia Showcase.

The Flames will host four meets at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex this season, also including the Liberty Flames Invite (Feb. 1), the sixth annual Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational (Feb. 14-15) and the 2020 ASUN Indoor Track & Field Championships (Feb. 28-29).

The Liberty Indoor Track Complex is located beneath the LU monogram off of Candlers Mountain Road. The facility's address is 1531 Liberty Mountain Drive, Lynchburg, VA 24502.

Liberty Kickoff History
This weekend's meet will be the 15th edition of the Liberty Kickoff, the Flames' longest-running home indoor track & field competition. The event will take place in January for just the fifth time, with the first being the inaugural Liberty Kickoff, Jan. 28-29, 2005. That meet was the first to be contested at the Tolsma Indoor Track Center. The 2017 Liberty Kickoff, which was held Jan. 20-21, 2017, marked the Liberty Indoor Track Complex's first-ever collegiate competition.

The list of meet record holders includes two of Liberty's three track & field/cross country NCAA Division I national champions, Heather (Sagan) Zealand (meet record holder in the women's mile and 3K) and Josh McDougal (meet record holder in the men's 3K and 5K).

Last year's Liberty Kickoff saw the Flames' Alejandro Perlaza Zapata win three events (men's 200, 500 and 4 x 400 relay). His 500 victory came in a time of 1:01.35 which broke fellow Olympian Bershawn "Batman" Jackson's facility record.

Shot Put Shakeup
Liberty's Jose Ballivian captured the men's shot put title at the 2019 ASUN Indoor Track & Field Championships with an all-time conference record mark of 58-8.5.

Last weekend, Ballivian dropped from No. 1 to No. 4 on the ASUN's all-time list, as he was overtaken by the Kennesaw State duo of Tyler Blalock (59-1.5) and Tanner Duffin (59-0.75) as well as Flames teammate Kyle Mitchell (58-11.5).

Ballivian, Blalock, Duffin and Mitchell are slated to go head to head Saturday afternoon in what figures to be one of the meet's most exciting events and an early ASUN preview.

Marvelous Mizera
Lady Flames sophomore Makenzy Mizera set the team's first school record of the new decade last Friday, thanks to a 41-3.75 triple jump at the Virginia Tech Invitational. The mark, which currently ranks No. 28 nationally, earned her ASUN Women's Field Athlete of the Week honors for the second time in her career.

Mizera is entered in the women's triple jump again this weekend and should face some strong competition. The field also includes the defending MEAC indoor and outdoor champion (North Carolina Central's Bhrandi Crenshaw), the defending ASUN indoor champion (Kennesaw State's Da'Yona Henry), the defending CIAA indoor and outdoor champion (Johnson C. Smith's Alisha St. Louis) and a 2019 NAIA All-American (Indiana Tech's Destiny Copeland).

The women's triple jump is slated for Saturday at 1 p.m. with the top competitors listed in the last of three flights.

Flames vs. Olympians
An Olympic year has begun, and several past Olympians will be competing in the Liberty Kickoff.

The women's 400 field features Francena McCorory, who helped Team USA win the 4 x 400 relay gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. She will run in the same heat as Lady Flames senior Cortney Strohman, the school record holder at 53.99.

A familiar Olympian is entered in the men's 200 and 400 events. Alejandro Perlaza Zapata, who earned indoor and outdoor All-America honors for the Flames in 2019, raced in the 4 x 400 for Colombia during the 2016 Rio Olympics and is expected to run the same event in Tokyo this summer.

Perlaza Zapata will face former teammates on Saturday, including Jahquez Durham in the 400 at 12:55 and Christian Lyon in the 200 at 2:45.

Among the Nation's Best
The Flames and Lady Flames posted some nationally elite marks during last weekend's Virginia Tech Invitational. The following athletes currently rank inside the NCAA Division I top 50 for their respective events, and all of them are scheduled to compete in the same events at the Liberty Kickoff.

No. 21 – Men's 60 Hurdles – Jovaine Atkinson – 7.85
No. 28 – Women's Triple Jump – Makenzy Mizera – 41-3.75
No. 34 – Men's 4 x 400 Relay – Lyon, Durham, Smalley, Lawrence – 3:13.30
No. 39 – Men's Shot Put – Kyle Mitchell – 58-11.5

Atop the ASUN
After the season-opening Virginia Tech Invitational, Liberty ranks No. 1 in the ASUN Conference in eight different events, including three men's events and five women's disciplines.

Men's 5K – Benjamin Klemmeck – 15:21.93
Men's 4 x 400 Relay – Lyon, Durham, Smalley, Lawrence – 3:13.30
Men's High Jump – Quinten Clay – 6-8.75

Women's 5K – Emma Bower – 17:52.55
Women's Distance Medley Relay – Stocki, McDermott, Leone, Sorg – 12:53.47
Women's Triple Jump – Makenzy Mizera – 41-3.75
Women's Shot Put – Naomi Mojica – 48-1.75
Women's Weight Throw – Patria Vaimaona – 59-2

Up Next
The Flames and Lady Flames will compete at home for the second consecutive weekend, with the Liberty Flames Invite scheduled for Feb. 1 at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex.