David Ricksecker made a strong 2012 season debut on Friday, serving as Liberty's top men's finisher at the Notre Dame Invitational.
Competing against some of the nation's elite NCAA Division I cross country teams and runners on Friday spurred Liberty competitors on to a plethora of personal-best times. Jennifer Klugh and David Ricksecker were the top individual performers for the Flames at the 57th annual Notre Dame Invitational. Klugh's 62nd-place finish paced the Lady Flames' effort, which saw five of the team's seven runners achieve collegiate cross country 5K personal-best times. As a result, Liberty finished 17th overall in the blue race with 459 points. Florida State justified its No. 2 national ranking with an impressive winning score of 29 points. That put the Seminoles well clear of runner-up No. 20 Notre Dame's total of 111. On the men's side, David Ricksecker earned 61st place in his senior season debut race. All five of his teammates ran to personal-best clockings for the 18th-place Flames, who totaled 425 points in their first appearance at this meet since 2007. No. 20 Tulsa was something of a surprise winner in the men's five-mile blue race, totaling 104 points. No. 17 Princeton's score of 139 netted runner-up honors in a field which saw nationally-ranked teams capture the top eight positions on a picture-perfect day for distance running. The Liberty men's squad finished one place ahead of No. 26 Michigan, defeating a nationally-ranked opponent for the first time since the 2010 NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships. Women's Race Recap Klugh's official time of 17:33 was less than five seconds slower than the school-record 17:28.3 posting she recorded almost exactly a year ago at the 2011 Charlotte Invitational. Almost as impressively, Liberty's fifth and final scorer crossed the line just 44 seconds behind Klugh. Fellow senior Khristina Kanagy dipped under the 18:00 mark for the first time in a cross country 5K. Her 17:44 effort was good for 79th place overall. The next three Lady Flames finished nearly simultaneously, including Jacy Christiansen (115th place, personal-best 18:13), Betel Yosef (116th, personal-best 18:15) and Meredith Mistretta (118th, personal-best 18:17). Mistretta made the most significant improvement upon her previous best 5K time, lopping 35 seconds off of her 18:52 effort from the Sept. 15 Winthrop/Adidas Invitational. Sisters Katie and Courtney Russo finished side-by-side, in 135th and 136th place, respectively. Both were awarded times of 18:51, with the time representing a new personal best for Katie.
Men's Race Recap Ricksecker was actually the only one of Liberty's six men's finishers who did not run faster than his 8K personal-best time on Friday. However, his five-mile time of 24:37 is still superior to his 8K best of 24:36 because five miles is a longer distance than eight kilometers. Teammates Ngetich Kipchirchir (70th place, 24:41) and Caleb Edmonds (71st place, 24:41) came in together as the Flames' No. 2 and 3 runners. Will Templeton's personal-best time of 25:08 was good for 105th place, while Zach Barker (127th place, 25:26) and Sam Hibbs (137th place, 25:40) both ran significant personal bests. Barker's time was 17 seconds faster than he has ever run for the shorter 8K distance. Meanwhile, Hibbs' clocking was 24 seconds better than his 8K best.
Liberty will return to action in two weeks at a yet-to-be-determined meet. The Flames will make one final tune-up for the 2012 Big South Cross Country Championships at either the Oct. 12 Blue Ridge Open in Boone, N.C. or the Oct. 13 Pre-Nationals in Louisville, Ky.
Watch more video of 2012 Notre Dame Cross Country Invitational on flotrack.org