Liberty University’s Club Sports are expanding and even its newest teams are showing early signs of success. Recently, three teams participated in national tournaments and others have placed well in regional events.
Rachel Steel brought home first place in the balance beam in the National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Club's (NAIGC) national tournament April 8-10 at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.
Steel was one of six Liberty gymnasts who competed against more than 100 teams for national and individual titles.
Steel and Megan Muller competed in all four events held at nationals: bars, beam, floor and vault. McKenzie Clay competed in the floor exercise routine and in the vault competition. Megan Muller competed in the uneven bars, vault and floor exercise. Christiana Crauch competed on the beam, floor and vault. Amber Zeller competed on floor and vault.
On the men’s side, Steve Lucia competed on floor, high bar and vault.
“We’ve progressed so much from September,” head coach Lori Darter said of the first-year team.
Liberty’s men’s club volleyball entered the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation IAA Championships in Louisville, Ky., ranked 10th, but thanks to solid wins against many top-tier teams, left the tournament with a 3rd place finish.
Liberty outpaced University of Kentucky (26-24, 25-18) on Friday, April 2, and advanced to compete in the next day’s final rounds. Liberty defeated the University of California, Santa Barbara (25-18, 25-20), and Cornell University (25-23, 28-26), before finally falling to the University of Cincinnati in the semifinals.
This was the team’s first appearance at the national tournament.
Liberty’s men’s and women’s crew teams placed well in the Rockett’s Landing Collegiate Regatta on April 10 in Richmond, Va.
In the 8+ competition, Liberty’s men’s team took both first and fourth place, and in the 4+ competition it also finished first. The Lady Flames took home first and third place in the 4+ category and third place in the 8+ category.
The Flames competed against Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Richmond, George Mason University, the College of William & Mary and James Madison University.
Liberty University Crew competed in its first event in October 2009.
Liberty’s paintball team competed in the National Collegiate Paintball Association Tournament April 9-11 in Lakeland, Fla.
In the first round of competition on Friday, the Flames defeated the University of Florida Gators. On Saturday, they beat West Virginia and Purdue. The Flames lost to Drexel University in the semifinal round on Sunday. Drexel went on to win the championship game. Liberty finished fourth in the country.
Coach Todd Hoglund, who is in his second year coaching at LU, said the team has improved greatly since Liberty recently installed two permanent turf paintball fields on campus.
“We’re building a program that has a lot to offer. Only a handful of schools actually have fields on campus, and none of them are even close to the quality of ours,” Hoglund said.
LU Paintball began in 2005.