Roanoke's Robin Yerkes (left) and Liberty junior Chenoa Freeman (right) will be among the top contenders in what is expected to be a fast women's 400-meter dash, Thursday evening.
Meet Time Schedule (PDF format) Meet Performance List For the final time this season, Liberty fans will be able to see the Big South champion Liberty men's track & field team and the Big South runner-up Lady Flames women's track & field team compete at the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex. Liberty's final home meet of the 2009 outdoor track & field season, the Liberty Twilight Qualifier, is set to begin Thursday at 3 p.m. Many of Liberty's top athletes are scheduled to compete against competitors from 16 other universities and several top-level post-collegiate performers. The men's 100-meter dash prelims will get things started on the track at 3 p.m. Meanwhile, numerous field events will start at the same time, including the men's and women's discus, men's pole vault and men's and women's long jump. Fireworks in the 400 The 400-meter dash is appropriately scheduled to begin in prime time, at 7:35 p.m., as both the men's and women's races promise to be highly competitive. The men's 400-meter dash will precede the women's race, and it will provide Liberty senior Phil Leineweber (New Freedom, Pa.) one final opportunity to run his specialty event at home. Leineweber has won numerous races at both the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex and Tolsma Indoor Track Center throughout his four-year career, including the 400 at the Liberty Collegiate Invitational earlier this month. He will face some stiff opposition Thursday evening, however. Nike's Jamaal Torrence, the 2009 USATF indoor national champion at 400 meters, headlines the race's entrants. Additionally, St. Augustine's finished second in the men's 4 x 400 relay Championship of America at the Penn Relays. Three-quarters of the Falcons' relay team—Antonio Abney, Randy Curry and Rashaud Johnston—is scheduled to compete, including the meet's defending champion, Curry. On the women's side, Crystal Cox's facility-record time of 52.60 could be in jeopardy, as an exceptionally strong field has been assembled. Earlier this season, at the Liberty Collegiate Invitational, NCAA Division III indoor national 400-meter champion Robin Yerkes of Roanoke edged Liberty's Chenoa Freeman (Jr., Lincoln, Del.) in a tight battle. Both Yerkes and Freeman are entered once again on Thursday, and the duo will be joined by some elite company. The start list also includes a two-time bronze medalist at the 2008 World Indoor Track & Field Championships (Shareese Woods), a 2008 Olympian for Liberia (Kia Davis) and the fifth-place finisher in the 2009 Florida Relays 400-meter final (Alycia Williams). Virginia Tech has entered its top two 400-meter hurdlers in the event, Queen Harrison, who is ranked No. 1 nationally, and Asia Washington, listed No. 3 in the nation. Harrison, who won the 400 at the 2008 Liberty Twilight Qualifier, was a 2008 Olympian for the U.S. in the 400 hurdles. Finally, Angelique Smith of St. Augustine's placed fifth in the 400 at the 2009 NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships. No Hurdle Too High Liberty freshman Olivia Charnuski (Elmira, Ontario) has excelled in the 100-meter hurdles for the Lady Flames this season. She placed third at the Big South meet and most recently, helped Liberty set the school shuttle hurdles record at the Penn Relays. She will compete against some impressive performers in the women's 100-meter hurdles, with prelims scheduled for 3:15 p.m. and finals to follow at 4:15. Highlighting the field is the Virginia Tech junior duo of Kristi Castlin and Harrison. They swept the top two spots at the recent ACC Championships and rank No. 2 and 3, respectively, in the NCAA. Castlin's season-best time of 12.96 is currently listed No. 7 in the world. Distance Delights The men's and women's 5,000-meter races will close out the evening's competition, at 8:50 p.m., and strong fields are entered in both 12.5-lap contests. In the men's contest, Josh Edmonds (Jr., Cooperstown, N.Y.) is Liberty's top entrant. The Big South 10,000-meter runner-up, Edmonds is coming off a personal-best 5K clocking of 14:33.15 at the Penn Relays. He is expected to battle East Tennessee State's Kenneth Rotich, the defending race champion. Rotich, the 2008 Atlantic Sun Conference cross country champion, is the reigning Atlantic Sun Athlete of the Week. Ashley Osborne (Sr., Bristol, Va.), the Big South women's 5K runner-up, will likely be aiming for an ECAC qualifier in the women's race. She will be pushed by teammate Rebekah Ricksecker, who will be competing unattached. Ricksecker claimed the 5K title at the Liberty Collegiate Invitational, earlier this month. Rapid Relays The Liberty women's 4 x 100 relay quartet of Charnuski, Alyssa Pegues (Fr., Warner Robins, Ga.), Freeman and Andrea Beckles (Sr., Lynchburg, Va.) has enjoyed a strong season. The squad, which most recently finished fifth in the ECAC final at the Penn Relays, has posted a season-best time of 46.13 seconds. At 7:05 p.m., the Lady Flames will face some strong competition, as the No. 1-ranked 4 x 100 relay team at the NCAA Division II level (St. Augustine's) and the No. 1-ranked 4 x 100 relay team in NCAA Division III (Roanoke) are both entered. St. Augustine's has clocked 45.88 seconds already this season. How High Can You Go? Liberty senior Matt Parker (Rome, N.Y.) won the men's high jump at the Liberty Collegiate Invitational, clearing a facility-record 6-11.5. His mark may not last long, once the men's high jump gets started at 5:30 p.m. Joe Kindred of St. Augustine's is entered in the field. He went 7-5 to win the Penn Relays championship and is currently tied for seventh in the world. Anthony Bryant (R-Fr., Charlottesville, Va.), the 2009 Big South Men's Field Performer of the Year, is Liberty's best hope for victory. He has gone over 7-0.5 this year and is tied for 15th on the NCAA Division I national performance list. How High Can You Go? Part 2 Lady Flames redshirt freshman Rachel Houseknecht (Hughesville, Pa.) has enjoyed steady improvement in the pole vault this season. She now ranks No. 5 on Liberty's all-time performance list at 11-0.25. On Thursday at approximately 5:30 p.m., Houseknecht will square off with a talented group of Virginia Tech vaulters. The Hokies' entrants include Kelly Phillips, who finished sixth at the 2008 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, and freshman Abby Schaffer, who qualified for the 2009 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.
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