Kyle Mitchell's winning shot put mark of 62-10.5 broke the ASUN all-time, meet and Liberty records.
Host Liberty excelled on the opening day of the 2020 ASUN Indoor Track & Field Championships, Friday at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex, winning six of 11 events and taking the lead in the men's and women's team standings. Shot putters took center stage for the Flames, as Kyle Mitchell set three different records while winning the men's event and Naomi Mojica took down a pair of records while headlining the Lady Flames' 1-2-3 podium sweep in the women's shot put.
Looking to defend its ASUN title from 2019, the Liberty women's squad leads second-place Kennesaw State by 25 points (82.5 to 57.5) through Friday's seven events. Meanwhile, the Liberty men's squad owns a 24-point advantage (58 to 34) over Kennesaw State through four men's events. On the men's side, the Flames are seeking their 23rd straight indoor conference title, dating back to their days in the Big South Conference.
Mitchell achieved his top throw of 62-10.5 during round five of the men's shot put competition. That bomb of a throw won the event by nearly three feet and shattered Mitchell's own ASUN all-time record of 61-3 along with teammate Jose Ballivian's meet record of 58-8.5 from last season. Mitchell also added exactly a foot to the program record current Liberty throws coach Clendon Henderson had set on Jan. 12, 2008 at Virginia Tech.
Ballivian heaved the shot put 59-0, eclipsing his ASUN-winning 58-8.5 effort from a year ago. However, he was relegated to fourth place during one of Friday's most entertaining events which saw four athletes break the previous meet record.
Just six days after relinquishing her ASUN all-time women's shot put record to Jacksonville's Sade Meeks, Mojica reclaimed it with her winning mark of 50-4. The junior from Mexico, who has now won all five indoor and outdoor conference shot put competitions during her career, also took down her own meet record (49-5) by almost a foot.
Mojica was joined on the podium by teammates Chelsea Igberaese (second place, indoor personal-best 48-2.75) and Patria Vaimaona (third, 47-4.25). Vaimaona claimed the third spot on her third and final attempt.
Liberty swept the women's and men's long jump titles on Friday, beginning with Makenzy Mizera's championship in the women's event. The sophomore's top four jumps all would have won the competition, topped by her winning mark of 18-8.5 in round three. Mizera becomes the Lady Flames' first indoor conference champion in the women's long jump since 2011 (Alyssa Pegues – Big South).
For the second straight year, the Flames won the men's long jump in improbable fashion. Last season, Branson Rolle pulled out a victory on his final attempt. This time around, freshman Erick Johnson won by adding more than a foot his previous best with a winning 23-8.75 effort. Teammate Brad Smalley grabbed the runner-up position with his longest jump in two years, 23-1.75.
Ryan Drew slashed 13 seconds off his personal best to win arguably the day's most entertaining race, the men's 3K, in 8:14.39. Drew led for much of the race before relinquishing the advantage during the closing laps. He then summoned a final kick to overtake reigning ASUN men's cross country individual champion Brent Leber of Lipscomb in the homestretch to win. Running his first race since cross country season, the Flames' Felix Kandie came up with a third-place 3K finish in 8:15.93.
Liberty's sixth and final victory of the day came in the women's distance medley relay. Three legs (Naomi Armstrong, Tanner Ealum and Calli Parlier) returned from the Lady Flames' ASUN-winning quartet from 2019. But it was the newcomer (Cortney Strohman) who broke the race open with a sterling 54.18-second carry for the 400-meter leg, sending Liberty on its way to a 10-second victory in 11:58.96.
The Flames contended for the men's distance medley relay crown as well before placing second to North Florida in 10:04.66. Noah Tindale, Jahquez Durham, Bradley Prentice and Nick Doan carried the baton for Liberty during the evening's final event.
As a freshman in 2019, Liberty's Taylen Langin had captured the women's pole vault crown at this meet with a championship-record vault of 12-7.5. On Friday, both she and teammate Rachel Milnes made it over 12-8 but were relegated to second and third places, respectively, by a winning clearance of 12-11.75 by North Florida's Louisa Washburn. Shortly before leading off for Liberty's distance medley relay squad, Armstrong cleared a personal-best 11-8 for fourth place.
Freshman Abby Phillips, who spends most of her time playing outside hitter for the Liberty volleyball team, high jumped a season-best 5-6 for the runner-up spot.
Liberty is also in prime position to score big points in several other events on Saturday as a result of Friday's competition. Rolle (2,904) is the day one leader in the heptathlon with teammates Zach Wendt (2,509), Jeremy Davis (2,487) and Michael Ginder (2,452) sitting in third, fourth and fifth.
The Flames boasted the top two qualifying times in the men's 60 hurdles, Jovaine Atkinson's meet-record 7.76 effort and Felix Lawrence's personal-best 7.95. Meanwhile, Christian Lyon tops the men's 60 finalists with a preliminary time of 6.84 while Atkinson clocked the day's third-fastest time (6.93) during his first 60 dash in two years.
On the women's side, the 60-meter dash trio provided the Lady Flames' biggest highlight from Friday's qualifying heats. Alexis Rolan (7.55), Abby Pantlitz (7.59) and Nikayla Hoyte (7.66) all posted personal-best times and all three now rank among Liberty's top eight performers of all-time for the event.
Women's Team Scores (Through 7 of 17 Events) 1) Liberty – 82.5 2) Kennesaw State – 57.5 3) Lipscomb – 25 4) North Florida – 22 5) Jacksonville – 19 6) NJIT – 8
Men's Team Scores (Through 4 of 17 Events) 1) Liberty – 58 2) Kennesaw State – 34 3) North Florida – 15 4) Lipscomb – 14 5) NJIT – 2
Women's ASUN Champions Makenzy Mizera – Long Jump – 18-8.5 Naomi Mojica – Shot Put – 50-4 Naomi Armstrong, Cortney Strohman, Tanner Ealum, Calli Parlier – Distance Medley Relay – 11:58.96
Men's ASUN Champions Ryan Drew – 3K – 8:14.39 Erick Johnson – Long Jump – 23-8.75 Kyle Mitchell – Shot Put – 62-10.5
Other Women's Top 3 Finishers 2nd – Chelsea Igberaese – Shot Put – 48-2.75 2nd – Taylen Langin – Pole Vault – 12-8 2nd – Abby Phillips – High Jump – 5-6 3rd – Rachel Milnes – Pole Vault – 12-8 3rd – Patria Vaimaona – Shot Put – 47-4.25
Other Men's Top 3 Finishers 2nd – Brad Smalley – Long Jump – 23-1.75 2nd – Noah Tindale, Jahquez Durham, Bradley Prentice, Nick Doan – Distance Medley Relay – 10:04.66 3rd – Felix Kandie – 3K – 8:15.93
Women's Record Breakers ASUN All-Time Record – Naomi Mojica – Shot Put – 50-4 Old Record: 49-6.25 by Jacksonville's Sade Meeks last Saturday (Feb. 22)
ASUN Meet Record – Naomi Mojica – Shot Put – 50-4 Old Record: 49-5 by Mojica in 2019
Men's Record Breakers ASUN All-Time Record – Kyle Mitchell – Shot Put – 62-10.5 Old Record: 61-3 by Mitchell on Feb. 1
ASUN Meet Record – Kyle Mitchell – Shot Put – 62-10.5 Old Record: 58-8.5 by Liberty's Jose Ballivian in 2019
ASUN Meet Record – Jovaine Atkinson – 60 Hurdles – 7.76 Old Record: 7.85 by Lipscomb's Wayne Newman in 2017
School Record – Kyle Mitchell – Shot Put – 62-10.5 Old Record: 61-10.5 by Clendon Henderson on Jan. 12, 2008
Updates to Liberty's All-Time Women's Top 10 List No. 3 – Alexis Rolan – 60 – 7.55 No. 4 – Chelsea Igberaese – Shot Put – 48-2.75 No. 5 – Rachel Milnes – Pole Vault – 12-8 No. 5 – Abby Pantlitz – 60 – 7.59 No. 6 – Katie Dodson – 60 Hurdles – 8.73 No. 7 – Priscillah Kiplagat – 3K – 9:50.22 Tie for No. 7 – Abby Phillips – High Jump – 5-6 No. 8 – Nikayla Hoyte – 60 – 7.66
Other Updates to Liberty's All-Time Men's Top 10 List No. 2 – Felix Lawrence – 60 Hurdles – 7.95 No. 5 – Jose Ballivian – Shot Put – 59-0 No. 7 – Ryan Drew – 3K – 8:14.39 Tie for No. 9 – Tindale, Durham, Prentice, Doan – Distance Medley Relay – 10:04.66 Tie for No. 10 – Erick Johnson – Long Jump – 23-8.75
Up Next The 2020 ASUN Indoor Track & Field Championships will conclude with a busy day of action on Saturday, beginning at 9:45 a.m. with the heptathlon 60-meter hurdles. The meet will wrap up with the men's 4 x 400 relay at 5 p.m., followed by the awards ceremony at approximately 5:30.
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