Dacia Bushman, the 2009 Big South women's cross country runner-up, will begin her senior campaign Friday at Coastal Carolina.
Six weeks before the 2010 Big South Cross Country Championships, the Liberty men's and women's cross country squads will get a first-hand look at one of their chief conference rivals, Coastal Carolina. The Flames and Lady Flames are set to compete in the Coastal Carolina Invitational, Friday afternoon in Conway, S.C. The women's 5K race will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men's 6K at 6:10. Both races will be contested at the Quail Creek Golf Club. The meet will feature eight men's teams and eight women's teams, with the host Chanticleers and Liberty as the top contenders for victory in both races. Here is a look at Liberty's tentative list of entrants.
Women's Tentative Lineup Meg Bowles Taylor Bowles Dacia Bushman Jessica Gass Alicia Guridy Hailey Neal Amy Passauer Denise Troyer Betel Yosef
Men's Tentative Lineup Zach Barker Jarred Cornfield Dan Hibbs Mark Hopely Spencer Jackson Evans Kigen Jake Reed Will Reeves Isaac Wendland
Weather Forecast Friday's conditions are likely to be uncomfortable for distance running. The current forecast for Conway lists partly cloudy skies with a high of 89 degrees and 83 percent humidity.
Scouting the Competition As previously mentioned, Coastal Carolina and Liberty headline the list of teams entered in Friday's meet. The Chanticleers and Flames have combined to win every Big South men's and women's cross country team title since 2005. The other registered women's teams include Charleston Southern, South Carolina State, UNC Wilmington, USC Aiken, USC Beaufort and Wingate. On the men's side, a Coastal Carolina alumni team, South Carolina State, The Citadel, UNC Wilmington, USC Beaufort and Wingate will join the Chanticleers and Flames.
Back to the Beach Friday's race will be Liberty's first cross country meet at Coastal Carolina since the Chanticleers hosted the 2003 Big South Cross Country Championships. Led by Josiah Melly's runner-up individual finish, the Flames finished second in the men's team competition. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames came in fourth, with Rebecca Parsons' 14th-place finish pacing the squad. However, many of Liberty's current runners have competed at Coastal Carolina in track & field. The Flames have participated in the Coastal Carolina Invitational and Shamrock Invitational during spring break for each of the last five outdoor track & field seasons. Several of the Flames and Lady Flames competing on Friday enjoyed success on the track at Coastal Carolina in March. Hailey Neal posted back-to-back runner-up finishes in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Coastal Carolina Invitational and Shamrock Invitational. On the men's side, Evans Kigen was the steeplechase champion at both Coastal Carolina meets and Will Reeves captured the Shamrock Invitational 1,500-meter run crown.
Debuts Discussed Most of Liberty's runners who did not compete at the season-opening Virginia Tech Cross Country Relays on Sept. 3 will make their 2010 season debut on Friday. For the Lady Flames, Dacia Bushman, Alicia Guridy, Betel Yosef and Neal will all compete for the first time this year. The men's runners toeing the line for the first time in 2010 include Mark Hopely, Jake Reed, Isaac Wendland, Kigen and Reeves. One notable exclusion from those lists is defending NCAA national champion Sam Chelanga. He is not expected to race until the Brooks Paul Short Run, Oct. 1 in Bethlehem, Pa.
Reeves Reunion Will Reeves will get a chance to catch up with his younger sister on Friday. Janel Reeves is a sophomore on Coastal Carolina's women's cross country team. Both Reeves siblings attended Brookville High School, located just outside the Lynchburg city limits.
How Far are We Running? Friday's men's race is a 6K contest, which is shorter than the 8K and 10K courses college men's cross country runners are accustomed to. Liberty has not raced the 6K distance since 2007, when the Flames competed in two meets at Virginia Tech which measured 150 meters shy of 6K. Josh Edmonds won the season-opening Virginia Tech Invitational on Sept. 8, 2007, clocking a course-record time of 18:32. Jamie McCarthy set the men's 6K course record of 19:14 at last year's Coastal Carolina Invitational. It could come under siege on Friday if Evans Kigen recaptures the form which saw him place 20th at the 2009 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championship.
Regional Rankings The Liberty men's cross country team is ranked No. 9 in this week's Southeast Region poll, as compiled by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). The Flames were joined in this week's regional rankings by fellow Big South Conference squad High Point, which checked in at No. 14. N.C. State remained atop the regional poll for the second consecutive week.
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