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Liberty to Open 2009 Portion of Track Ledger

January 22, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Sam Chelanga is scheduled to make his Liberty track & field debut Saturday at approximately 4:40 p.m., when he runs the 3,000 meters at the Liberty Open. (Photo by Kirby Lee/Image of Sport)

Sam Chelanga is scheduled to make his Liberty track & field debut Saturday at approximately 4:40 p.m., when he runs the 3,000 meters at the Liberty Open. (Photo by Kirby Lee/Image of Sport)

Liberty Open Time Schedule (PDF format)

Performance List

Seven weeks after beginning the 2008-09 indoor track & field campaign, the Liberty men's and women's squads will resume their season this weekend, at the Liberty Open. The annual two-day meet is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, at the Tolsma Indoor Track Center.

Many Liberty competitors will be making their track & field season debuts at the meet, including NCAA Division I cross country runner-up and four-time All-American Sam Chelanga (R-So., Nairobi, Kenya). Chelanga is entered in Saturday afternoon's men's 3,000-meter final, intending to use the race as a tune-up for bigger meets later on in the season, according to Flames head coach Brant Tolsma.

Chelanga's race is scheduled toward the end of the two-day program, at 4:40 p.m. on Saturday. The women's pentathlon 60-meter hurdles, including former NCAA heptathlon titlist and Olympic Trials participant Lela Nelson, will open the meet on Friday at 1:45 p.m. Then, the men's weight throw is the first event on a busy Saturday schedule, slated for an 8:30 a.m. start.

The meet will be the largest, in terms of participants, of the three home contests on Liberty's 2008-09 indoor track & field schedule. Liberty is one of 22 universities entered in the meet and one of five Big South squads which will be in action. With the New Balance Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships just over a month away, this weekend's meet will serve as a conference preview of sorts for the Flames, Gardner-Webb, Radford, UNC Asheville and Winthrop.

Speaking of the Big South, five Liberty performers reside atop the conference performance lists at this early juncture of the season. All five are seniors, and each of them will be in action this weekend at the Liberty Open.

Daniel Newell (Roanoke, Va.) came from behind to win the heptathlon at the season-opening Liberty Kickoff, tallying a conference-high 5,148 points. He is the defending Liberty Open heptathlon champion and will open defense of his title with the 60-meter dash, Friday at 2:45 p.m. Fellow senior Clarence Murray (Birdsboro, Pa.), a two-time Big South heptathlon champion, is returning from injury and will compete alongside Newell this weekend.

Matt Parker (Rome, N.Y.), who finished a close second to Newell in the Liberty Kickoff heptathlon, paces the conference in both the 60-meter hurdles (8.33) and the high jump (6-11.5). The Empire State native will compete in both disciplines on Saturday, opening up with the hurdles prelims at approximately 11:10 a.m. and following with the high jump at 2 p.m.

The men's high jump promises to be one of the meet's most competitive events, highlighted by the presence of Parker, Anthony Bryant (R-Fr., Charlottesville, Va.) and Clarence Powell (So., Marianna, Fla.). Bryant, making his first appearance in a Liberty track & field uniform this weekend, won two events at the Liberty Kickoff (high jump and triple jump) while competing unattached. He also claimed the 2008 Liberty Open high jump crown.

Freshman John Talbert (Newton, Kan.), ranked No. 2 nationally among high school athletes with a 213-1 discus throw last season, will commence his collegiate career this weekend with the weight throw (8:30 a.m.) and shot put (12:45 p.m.) on Saturday.

Another men's event to keep an eye on is the 500-meter dash. Senior Phil Leineweber (New Freedom, Pa.) is entered in the race, set for 2:25 p.m. Saturday. He is the facility record holder, two-time Liberty Open 500-meter champion and a three-time IC4A qualifier in the event.

On the women's side, Liberty's conference leaders include Ashley Teer (Abbotsford, British Columbia) in the 800-meter run, Jaime Watson (Ravenna, Mich.) in the 400-meter dash and Marie Williams (Tampa, Fla.) in the heptathlon.

Teer is again entered in the 800 meters this Saturday, with the gun set to go off at approximately 3:15 p.m. She placed third in her specialty event at the Liberty Kickoff, clocking a 2:21.98.

Watson blazed to a time of 56.01 in the Liberty Kickoff 400-meter dash, an indoor personal-best effort which garnered the Big South Women's Track & Field Athlete of the Week award. This time around, she is set to run the rarely-contested 500 meters and attempt to defend her 2008 Liberty Open title. The event is set to go off at 2:40 p.m., Saturday afternoon.

Williams made a successful return to the track, after redshirting the 2007-08 season, winning the pentathlon at the Liberty Kickoff with 3,195 points. She will battle Nelson and a sizable field of more than 20 athletes. The pentathletes have been divided into two groups, with the first group opening competition Friday at 1:45 p.m. and the group including Williams and Nelson starting at 3:30.

None of the Lady Flames' distance runners competed in December at the Liberty Kickoff, but most of them will be in action Saturday. Top entrants include Ashley Osborne (Sr., Bristol, Va.) in the mile at 1:05 p.m. and Katie Albright (So., Wake Forest, N.C.) in the 3,000 meters at approximately 5 p.m. Rebekah Ricksecker (Sr., Laurel, Del.) will join Osborne in the mile, but will compete unattached.