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Hokie Invitational Next Up for Liberty Track

January 19, 2012  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Kolby Shepherd will pole vault at the Hokie Invitational on Saturday, one year after clearing a personal-best 17-7.25 at the same meet.

Kolby Shepherd will pole vault at the Hokie Invitational on Saturday, one year after clearing a personal-best 17-7.25 at the same meet.

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Competing for the second time this week, the Liberty men's and women's indoor track & field teams will travel to Blacksburg, Va., Friday and Saturday for the Hokie Invitational. The competitive invitational will take place inside Rector Field House, the site of the 2012 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Liberty will face only one of its Big South rivals this weekend (Radford), while taking on a solid group of ACC foes including Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

The meet will get under way Friday at 5 p.m. with the men's and women's triple jump and women's 3K. Saturday's action will start at 11 a.m., when the women's high jump and pole vault commence. Saturday's first running event will be the women's 5K at noon.

How to Follow the Flames
Live results will be available throughout both days of the Hokie Invitational, courtesy of Flash Results, Inc.
Additionally, will be on hand at Rector Field House for Friday's events. Periodic updates will be posted to the official Twitter account of Liberty Flames Athletics (

How High Can You Go?
Liberty redshirt senior Kolby Shepherd achieved one of his career highlights at last year's Hokie Invitational, winning the men's pole vault title with a personal-best clearance of 17-7.25. The effort tied him for 32nd place on the U.S. national performance list for 2011 but did not replace Ken Howell's school record of 17-5 because Shepherd was redshirting.

Coming off of a first-place finish at Wednesday's Hornet Sprints, Jumps and Throws Challenge, Shepherd will pole vault Saturday at 2 p.m.

Smith Steps Up
Ryan Smith has gotten off to a strong start during his redshirt junior season, winning men's shot put titles at both the Liberty Kickoff and the Hornet Sprints, Jumps and Throws Challenge. In the weight throw, he won the Hornet Sprints, Jumps and Throws Challenge title while placing second at the Liberty Kickoff.

Smith fared well at last year's Hokie Invitational, coming in second overall (first among collegiate athletes) in the men's shot put and placing third in the weight throw.

Riding the Relays
Liberty looks for strong results this weekend from its relay squads, especially the men's 4 x 400 quartet and the women's distance medley relay team. Liberty won its only previous race in the men's 4 x 400 relay this season, as the quartet of Andre Washington, Paul Arslain, Kyle Gill and Taylor Courtney was victorious at the Liberty Kickoff. On Saturday, newcomer Leonard Robbins provides the Liberty coaching staff with another option.

Also on Saturday, the Lady Flames could make a run at the distance medley relay school record clocking of 11:52.36, which has stood since 2000. Liberty's most likely quartet will feature Jacy Christiansen on the 1,200-meter leadoff leg, Mia Aghaji on the 400-meter leg, Meghan Burggraf on the 800-meter leg and Jennifer Klugh on the 1,600-meter anchor leg.

Going the Distance
For the first time this season, most of Liberty's distance runners will be in action on the track this weekend. Two of the top athletes to watch are Jennifer Klugh and Isaac Wendland. Last year, Klugh finished third in the women's 3K at this meet, clocking a personal-best time of 9:53.24. With a good race on Friday, she could challenge Ashley Osborne's school record of 9:49.55.

Meanwhile, Wendland is coming off of the best cross country season of his career. He will run the 1,000-meter distance for the first time since placing as the 2011 IC4A indoor men's 1,000-meter runner-up.

Nice to Meet You
Three athletes are expected to make their debut in a Liberty uniform at the Hokie Invitational. They include Chris Boyd, Ngetich Kipchirchir and Leonard Robbins. Additionally, Alyssa Allen and Caitlin Spinks will run in their first track meet for the Lady Flames after competing in cross country during the fall.

What's Next?
Liberty will return to Lynchburg for its second of three home meets on the 2011-12 indoor season schedule, the Liberty Open. The two-day invitational will be contested next Friday and Saturday inside the Tolsma Indoor Track Center.