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Perlaza Zapata Steals the Show on Saturday

January 26, 2019  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Alejandro Perlaza Zapata celebrates after winning the Liberty Kickoff men's 500 dash title on Saturday.

Alejandro Perlaza Zapata celebrates after winning the Liberty Kickoff men's 500 dash title on Saturday.

Olympian Alejandro Perlaza Zapata had a hand in three of the Flames' 11 event victories during an action-packed Saturday at the 14th edition of the Liberty Kickoff. Two of Perlaza Zapata's titles (men's 200 – 21.17 and men's 500 – 1:01.35) came in record-breaking fashion, headlining the 2019 home opener at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex.

Perlaza Zapata's winning 500 clocking not only broke the facility, meet and school records but is the fastest in the world for 2019. The previous facility and meet records (1:01.41) were set by Olympian Bershawn "Batman" Jackson in 2017. Meanwhile, Taylor Courtney set the previous Liberty record (1:01.96) while winning the 2011 IC4A men's 500 championship.

About two hours later, Perlaza Zapata took down Liberty Athletics Hall of Famer Mike Decker's men's 200 standard of 21.23 that dated back to the 2000 IC4A meet.

Perlaza Zapata completed his hat trick of victories by anchoring the Flames' 4 x 400 relay squad to a come-from-behind win over Hampton in the second fastest time (3:11.39) in program history. The Colombia native was joined on the relay by Brad Smalley, Jahquez Durham and Michael Todd.

Todd had earlier won the men's 800 in 1:52.57, making him one of five Flames to win multiple events on the day.

On the women's side, Ty'Asia Dansbury (400 – 56.02), Tanner Ealum (500 – 1:11.92) and Delaney McDowell (1,000 – 2:52.70) each captured individual event titles. They then teamed up with Cortney Dowling to produce a dominating 4 x 400 relay victory in a season-best 3:46.30 clocking.

Ealum, who all but sealed the victory with a 55.01 carry on the relay's third leg, broke the meet record with her 1:11.92 effort in the 500. Teammate Cortney Dowling pushed her to the line with a time of 1:12.31 which only Ealum has bettered in program history, but the junior from Alaska prevailed with the 10th-fastest time in the world for 2019. Ealum's time would have placed second to Sydney McLaughlin at Saturday's New Balance Indoor Grand Prix professional meet in Boston.

Naomi Mojica (48-3.5) and reigning ASUN Men's Field Athlete of the Week Jose Ballivian (season-best 58-6.5) each won their respective shot put competitions with relative ease.

Junior Fiona Barnes was Liberty's final event winner, as her long jump of 18-8.5 gave the Flames a dozen total victories at the two-day meet, also including Patria Vaimaona's women's weight throw crown Friday evening.

Redshirt freshman Felix Kandie produced Liberty's most impressive performance by a non-event winner on Saturday. His mile time of 4:09.59 placed second overall and first among collegiate entrants. It also took down the Liberty freshman record of 4:13.52 set by 14-time All-American Josh McDougal in 2005.

Men's Event Winners (5)
Jose Ballivian – Shot Put – 58-6.5 (Won by more than three feet over William & Mary's Kelly Cook, Jr.)

Alejandro Perlaza Zapata – 200 – 21.17

Alejandro Perlaza Zapata – 500 – 1:01.35

Michael Todd – 800 – 1:52.57 (Edged two-time defending ASUN indoor men's 800 titlist Ryan Speer of Lipscomb by 0.23 seconds)

Brad Smalley, Jahquez Durham, Michael Todd, Alejandro Perlaza Zapata – 4 x 400 Relay – 3:11.39

Women's Event Winners (6)
Fiona Barnes – Long Jump – 18-8.5 (Overtook Kennesaw State's Da'Yona Henry with winning leap in round 4)

Ty'Asia Dansbury – 400 – 56.02

Tanner Ealum – 500 – 1:11.92

Delaney McDowell – 1,000 – 2:52.70 (Won by 3.54 seconds over Elon's Chelsea Smith)

Naomi Mojica – Shot Put – 48-3.5

Cortney Dowling, Delaney McDowell, Tanner Ealum, Ty'Asia Dansbury – 4 x 400 Relay – 3:46.30 (Won by nearly six seconds over William & Mary)

Other Men's Top 3 Finishers
2nd – Jeremy Davis – Heptathlon – 4,812
2nd – Felix Kandie – Mile – 4:09.59 (1st collegiate finisher)
3rd – Jahquez Durham – 500 – 1:04.03

Other Women's Top 3 Finishers
2nd – Cortney Dowling – 500 – 1:12.31
2nd – Jada Thomas – 60 Hurdles – 8.79

Men's Record Breakers
Facility and Meet Record – 500 – Alejandro Perlaza Zapata – 1:01.35
Old Records: 1:01.41 by Bershawn "Batman" Jackson in 2017

School Record – 500 – Alejandro Perlaza Zapata – 1:01.35
Old Record: 1:01.96 by Taylor Courtney in 2011

School Record – 200 – Alejandro Perlaza Zapata – 21.17
Old Record: 21.23 by Mike Decker in 2000

Freshman Record – Mile – Felix Kandie – 4:09.59
Old Record: 4:13.52 by Josh McDougal in 2005

Women's Record Breaker
Meet Record – 500 – Tanner Ealum – 1:11.92
Old Record: 1:12.78 by George Mason's Sarah Moore in 2017

New Men's IC4A Qualifiers (5)
Jahquez Durham – 500 – 1:04.03
Felix Kandie – Mile – 4:09.59
Alejandro Perlaza Zapata – 200 – 21.17
Alejandro Perlaza Zapata – 500 – 1:01.35
Michael Todd – 800 – 1:52.57

New Women's ECAC Qualifiers (4)
Ty'Asia Dansbury – 400 – 56.02
Cortney Dowling – 500 – 1:12.31
Tanner Ealum – 500 – 1:11.92
Delaney McDowell – 1,000 – 2:52.70

Updates to Liberty's All-Time Men's Top 10 List
200 – No. 1 – Alejandro Perlaza Zapata – 21.17
500 – No. 1 – Alejandro Perlaza Zapata – 1:01.35
4 x 400 – No. 2 – Smalley, Durham, Todd, Perlaza Zapata – 3:11.39
Shot Put – No. 4 – Jose Ballivian – 58-6.5
Mile – No. 6 – Felix Kandie – 4:09.59
500 – No. 8 – Jahquez Durham – 1:04.03

Updates to Liberty's All-Time Women's Top 10 List
500 – No. 2 – Cortney Dowling – 1:12.31

Up Next
The Flames will remain at home next weekend, playing host to the Liberty Flames Invite. The one-day meet will take place Saturday at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex, beginning at 9 a.m.