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Shamrock Invite Up Next for Liberty Track

March 17, 2011  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Will Reeves won the men's 1,500-meter run at the 2010 Shamrock Invitational.

Will Reeves won the men's 1,500-meter run at the 2010 Shamrock Invitational.

Meet Schedule

Performance List

Heat Sheets

Myrtle Beach Weather

After a week of training in Myrtle Beach, S.C., the Liberty men's and women's track & field teams will wrap up their stay in the Palmetto State this weekend. The Flames and Lady Flames are set to compete in the Shamrock Invitational, Friday and Saturday at Myrtle Beach High School's Doug Shaw Stadium.

The meet, which will feature more than 1,100 athletes from 40 colleges, actually started Thursday with the heptathlon and decathlon. However, Liberty will not be in action until Friday at 12:30 p.m., when freshmen Rachel Barnes and Jocelyn Williams compete in the women's hammer.

Weather Report
Beautiful weather is forecasted for the Myrtle Beach area this weekend. Friday calls for a high of 74 degrees and sunny skies, while Saturday's high will climb to 77 under mostly sunny skies. The only athletes who may complain will be the distance runners, who prefer cooler temperatures.

Defending Their Titles
Liberty's Will Reeves and Kolby Shepherd will attempt to defend their event championships from the 2010 Shamrock Invitational. Reeves was victorious in the men's 1,500-meter run a year ago and will try to repeat Saturday at noon.

Meanwhile, Shepherd took the men's pole vault crown last season, competing unattached. The redshirt junior will look to return to the top of the awards podium Saturday at 10 a.m.

Evans Kigen finished first in the Shamrock Invitational men's steeplechase in 2010, but he is not scheduled to compete in the event this weekend.

Distance Delights
Most of Liberty's top distance runners who sat out the Coastal Carolina Invitational will return to the track this weekend, making for some intriguing mid-distance and distance races in Myrtle Beach. Some of the most notable races are previewed below, listed in chronological order.

Women's 4 x 800 Relay (Friday, 4:30 p.m.) – Liberty's projected quartet of Meghan Burggraf, Rod'Esther Castor, Jennifer Klugh and Amanda Wimbush is a talented one. At the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships, Burggraf was the 800-meter champion, while Klugh won the mile and 3K titles. Additionally, freshman Wimbush broke through for a fifth-place finish in the 800-meter final. The ECAC qualifying standard of 9:16.24 should be well within reach.

Men's 4 x 800 Relay (Friday, 4:50 p.m.) – The Liberty men's 4 x 800 squad, consisting of Jordan Bright, Jarred Cornfield, Drew Edwards and Isaac Wendland, is also one to be reckoned with. At the recent IC4A Indoor Track & Field Championships, Wendland and Cornfield became the two fastest men's 1,000-meter runners in program history. The team will be shooting for the IC4A standard of 7:43.

Women's 3,000-Meter Steeplechase (Friday, 6:45 p.m.)Hailey Neal will make her season debut in her outdoor specialty event, the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Last year, she placed second in this event at the Shamrock Invitational.

Men's 3,000-Meter Steeplechase (Friday, 7 p.m.) – Defending Shamrock Invitational men's steeplechase champion Kigen is not entered, but this event still bears watching for Flames fans. Freshman Josh MacDonald will make his collegiate steeplechase debut, after winning the USATF Junior Olympic national title in the 2K steeplechase last summer. Assistant coach Derek Scott's name also appears on the start list.

Women's 1,500-Meter Run (Saturday, 11:30 a.m.) – Neal will run her second race in as many days, when she lines up for the women's 1,500 Saturday morning. The Sunshine State native was the Big South 1,500-meter runner-up a year ago. Meanwhile, newly crowned Big South indoor women's 5K champion Dacia Bushman will compete at the 1,500-meter distance for the first time since March 15, 2008.

Men's 1,500-Meter Run (Saturday, Noon) – Reeves enters this race as the defending Shamrock Invitational men's 1,500 champion. However, he will have his hands full on Saturday. Scott, his distance coach, is the top seed. Meanwhile, teammate Wendland appears poised to crack the 4:00 barrier in the 1,500 for the first time.

Men's 800-Meter Run (Saturday, 2:20 p.m.) – The men's 800 will be one to watch, as former 400 hurdles world champion Bershawn Jackson will step up in distance. Liberty's top two entrants, Bright and Cornfield, both aim to build upon successful indoor campaigns.

Women's 3,000-Meter Run (Saturday, 4:30 p.m.) - Klugh will run her second event of the meet, the women's 3K, Saturday afternoon. Last season, the reigning Big South indoor 3K champion placed second in this event at the Shamrock Invitational. She will attempt to improve upon her outdoor personal best of 9:57.03.

Raising the Bar
Both Shepherd and Shelley Parker will look to achieve pole vaulting milestones this weekend. Shepherd will try to clear 17 feet for the first time in a Liberty uniform, while Parker hopes to join the 12-foot club.

Shepherd, who has vaulted as high as 17-7.25 while competing unattached, went 16-10.75 to win last weekend at the Coastal Carolina Invitational. That is the redshirt junior's highest clearance while representing the Flames. Only three Liberty athletes have ever gone over 17 feet in the pole vault, including Ken Howell, Todd Pettyjohn and Michael Prettyman.

Meanwhile, sophomore Parker got tantalizingly close to 12 feet at the Coastal Carolina Invitational, topping out at 11-11.75. She will attempt to become the Lady Flames' fourth 12-foot vaulter, joining Aimee Riley, Elisabeth Robertson and Andrea Wildrick.

Encore, Encore!
Redshirt senior Elliot Galeone opened his final collegiate season with a bang at the Coastal Carolina Invitational, stretching his own Liberty javelin record to 226-9. Galeone, currently ranked No. 4 nationally in the event, will try to add even more distance to his record, Friday at 4 p.m.