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Liberty Posts Sweep of ASUN Indoor Track Team Titles

February 29, 2020  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty celebrates its 2020 ASUN Conference men's and women's indoor team championships.

Liberty celebrates its 2020 ASUN Conference men's and women's indoor team championships.

Host Liberty swept the men's and women's team titles at the 2020 ASUN Indoor Track & Field Championships, which concluded Saturday at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex. The impressive performance proved to be a fitting final home championship of Brant Tolsma's 34-year run as Liberty's head coach, as he announced his retirement at the conclusion of the 2020 outdoor campaign shortly after Saturday's events concluded.

The Liberty men's squad posted a 68-point victory (219 to 151) over runner-up Kennesaw State to successfully defend its title from 2019. The Flames remain undefeated in NCAA Division I indoor conference meets, also including 21 straight Big South indoor crowns (1998-2018). Liberty's 23-year indoor men's conference winning streak is the longest active streak in NCAA Division I men's track & field.

Meanwhile, the Lady Flames also enjoyed a comfortable margin of victory (68 points, 194.5 to 126.5) over the second-place Kennesaw State Owls. The Lady Flames also made it back-to-back ASUN indoor titles and have now captured five straight indoor conference championships overall.

This weekend marked the 11th time Liberty has hosted a conference championship meet, including eight Big South Outdoor Championships, one Big South Indoor Championship and the last two ASUN Indoor Championships. The Flames and Lady Flames remain undefeated on their home tracks, as they have won the men's and women's team titles every time they have competed in Lynchburg.

Tolsma, who has now guided Liberty to 116 total conference titles in track & field and cross country, was duly honored as ASUN Men's and Women's Coach of the Year. His conference coach of the year trophy collection now numbers 77.

Liberty posted 10 first-place finishes on Saturday, finishing the two-day meet with victories in nearly half (16 of 34) of the ASUN events. The Flames and Lady Flames recorded a top-three performance in all but five events.

Redshirt junior Christian Lyon had a hand in three of Saturday's victories, totaling a meet-high 22.5 points by himself to earn ASUN Most Valuable Male Performer honors. Lyon's triumphs included the men's 60 (school-record 6.71), 200 (ASUN all-time, meet, Liberty and facility-record 20.99) and 4 x 400 relay (3:14.63). He was preceded on the winning relay by the trio of Brad Smalley, Jahquez Durham and Felix Lawrence.

Lyon's 60 clocking took down the 6.73 effort by Jacob Swinton which had stood as Liberty's record since 1996. His 20.99 performance in the 200 improved upon his own ASUN and Liberty all-time standard of 21.03 from three weeks prior at South Carolina.

Liberty boasted the only other double individual event champion on the men's side, as Ryan Drew clocked a personal-best mile time of 4:08.21 to complete an impressive sweep of the men's mile and 3K titles. Drew became Liberty's first indoor men's mile champion since Sam Chelanga's Big South title in 2011.

In addition to Lyon, three other Flames won events in record-setting fashion on Saturday. They included Tanner Ealum (meet-record 2:06.64 women's 800), Calli Parlier (facility-record 4:51.26 women's mile) and John Hicks (Liberty freshman-record 59-10.5 men's weight throw).

Parlier was the top-scoring Lady Flame at the meet, also including her anchor leg from Friday's victorious women's distance medley relay quartet and a third-place showing at 800 meters on Saturday (personal-best 2:10.53).

Liberty's other three Saturday victories were achieved by Jovaine Atkinson (men's 60 hurdles – 7.81), Cortney Strohman (women's 400 – 54.68) and Branson Rolle (heptathlon – 4,834).

Rolle led a 1-2-3 Liberty podium sweep in the heptathlon with his winning score of 4,834 points, helping the Flames pull away from Kennesaw State for good. The sweep, which also featured freshmen Michael Ginder (second place, 4,545) and Zach Wendt (third place, 4,525), certainly brought a smile to Tolsma's face as he coaches the Flames' multi-event athletes on a day-to-day basis.

Final Women's Team Scores
1) Liberty – 194.5
2) Kennesaw State – 126.5
3) Jacksonville – 118
4) Lipscomb – 47
5) North Florida – 27
6) NJIT – 10

Final Men's Team Scores
1) Liberty – 219
2) Kennesaw State – 151
3) Lipscomb – 86
4) North Florida – 55
5) NJIT – 7

Most Valuable Female Performer
Courtney Brenner, Lipscomb

Most Valuable Male Performer
Christian Lyon, Liberty

Women's Coach of the Year
Brant Tolsma, Liberty

Men's Coach of the Year
Brant Tolsma, Liberty

Women's ASUN Champions (Day 2)
Tanner Ealum – 800 – 2:06.64
Calli Parlier – Mile – 4:51.26
Cortney Strohman – 400 – 54.68

Men's ASUN Champions (Day 2)
Jovaine Atkinson – 60 Hurdles – 7.81
Ryan Drew – Mile – 4:08.21
John Hicks – Weight Throw – 59-10.5
Christian Lyon – 60 – 6.71
Christian Lyon – 200 – 20.99
Branson Rolle – Heptathlon – 4,834
Brad Smalley, Jahquez Durham, Felix Lawrence, Christian Lyon – 4 x 400 Relay – 3:14.63

Other Women's Top 3 Finishers (Day 2)
2nd – Makenzy Mizera – Triple Jump – 40-11.5
2nd – Patria Vaimaona – Weight Throw – 60-10.5
2nd – Nikayla Hoyte, Cortney Strohman, Alexis Rolan, Tanner Ealum – 4 x 400 Relay – 3:43.24
3rd – Emma Bower – 5K – 17:11.20
3rd – Chelsea Igberaese – Weight Throw – 60-6.75
3rd – Calli Parlier – 800 – 2:10.53
3rd – Alexis Rolan – 60 – 7.53

Other Men's Top 3 Finishers (Day 2)
2nd – Michael Ginder – Heptathlon – 4,545
2nd – Anders Janes – Pole Vault – 16-1.25
2nd – Felix Kandie – 5K – 14:17.55
2nd – Bradley Prentice – 800 – 1:52.22
3rd – Jovaine Atkinson – 60 – 6.91
3rd – Ryan Fox – Pole Vault – 14-7.5
3rd – Branson Rolle – High Jump – 6-8.25
3rd – Michael Rose – 400 – 49.38
3rd – Zach Wendt – Heptathlon – 4,525

Women's Record Breakers (Day 2)
Meet Record – Tanner Ealum – 800 – 2:06.64
Old Record: 2:07.00 by Jacksonville's Michelle Howell in 2017

Facility Record – Calli Parlier – Mile – 4:51.26
Old Record: 4:51.66 by James Madison's Carol Strock on Feb. 11, 2017

Men's Record Breakers (Day 2)
ASUN and Liberty All-Time Record – Christian Lyon – 200 – 20.99
Old Record: 21.03 by Lyon on Feb. 8 at South Carolina

Meet Record – Christian Lyon – 200 – 20.99
Old Record: 21.04 by Liberty's Alejandro Perlaza Zapata in 2019

Facility Record – Christian Lyon – 200 – 20.99
Old Record: 21.03 by North Carolina A&T's Rodney Rowe on Jan. 27, 2018

Liberty Record – Christian Lyon – 60 – 6.71
Old Record: 6.73 by Jacob Swinton on Feb. 16, 1996

Liberty Freshman Record – John Hicks – Weight Throw – 59-10.5
Old Record: 57-6.5 by Ryan Smith at the 2010 Big South Championship

Updates to Liberty's All-Time Women's Top 10 List (Day 2)
No. 2 – Tanner Ealum – 800 – 2:06.64
No. 3 – Alexis Rolan – 60 – 7.53
No. 3 – Alexis Rolan – 200 – 24.23
No. 4 – Calli Parlier – Mile – 4:51.26
No. 5 – Calli Parlier – 800 – 2:10.53
No. 6 – Katie Dodson – 60 Hurdles – 8.68
No. 6 – Hoyte, Strohman, Rolan, Ealum – 4 x 400 Relay – 3:43.24
No. 7 – Naomi Armstrong – 800 – 2:11.81
No. 7 – Emma Bower – 5K – 17:11.20
Tie for No. 7 – Abby Pantlitz – 200 – 24.56

Other Updates to Liberty's All-Time Men's Top 10 List (Day 2)
No. 5 – Ryan Drew – Mile – 4:08.21
No. 7 – John Hicks – Weight Throw – 59-10.5
No. 8 – Felix Kandie – 5K – 14:17.55

Up Next
In an attempt to improve their chances at qualifying for the 2020 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, Jovaine Atkinson (men's 60 hurdles) and Kyle Mitchell (men's shot put) will compete in the CNU Qualifier & Combined Events on Sunday. The meet will take place at Christopher Newport's Freeman Center in Newport News, Va., with events beginning at noon.