Going the distance

Run like the wind — Competitors at the Liberty Collegiate Invitational meet Friday and Saturday ran against other schools as well as a stalwart wind. Winds gusted up to 20 mph Saturday, making athletes work even harder for their times. Liberty won seven events during the weekend. Photo credit: Laura Foster

A total of 33 schools traveled to Liberty University’s campus on April 1 and 2 to compete in the Liberty Collegiate Invitational, the first of two outdoor track meets that the Flames host.

With wind speeds from the northwest at 11 mph, gusting to 20 mph, hundreds of fans were seated in the stands wrapped in coats and blankets. The excitement of close races, long throws and high jumps however, were enough to get them cheering, clapping hollering.

“This is our biggest turnout,” head coach Brant Tolsma said.

The meet lasted from the morning through the late evening with more than 20 events to watch.

Seas of people were walking, running, pointing and stretching on the inner field of the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex in preparation of individual events.

“This wind is really going to be a factor,” Tolsma said. “I’m just glad it’s not raining.” Just 30 minutes later there was a light drizzle.

Among the many events, there were a handful of events not to miss and some competitors to keep an eye out for. The women’s pole vault, women’s discus, women’s long jump, men’s 110 hurdles, men’s triple jump, men’s 800m, men’s high jump, women’s 400 hurdles and women’s 200m were all highly touted events.

“I’m looking forward to some of the jumps and the 200m. It will be hard to judge how good they are with the wind, but it will be exciting to see the speed,” Tolsma said. “The long distance though, well, they will run it, but it’s not going to be pretty.”

In the women’s pole vault Liberty placed second with freshman Shelly Parker jumping 3.70m, a tenth of a meter shy of the first place finisher freshman Cassandra Crawford of Appalachian State University.

In the women’s long jump senior Veronica Day of Elon University placed first with a jump of 5.72m, while Edy Ndam of UVA and Bianca Harvey of Appalachian St. fought for second place, separated by only a tenth of a meter.

“I’m also excited to see how Kolby does in the pole vault,” Tolsma said. “It could be very good unless there is a cross-wind.”

Temperatures rose slightly throughout the day, giving players and fans a brief hug of warmth. However, with winds still blasting, events like the pole vault were moved indoors.

Kolby Shepherd of Liberty placed first with an easy win over the competition. His jump was 5.20m, while the second place finisher jumped almost two feet shorter.

In the men’s 110 hurdles, senior Adams Adulrazaaq of Virginia University was the projected favorite. As advertised, Abdulrazaaq claimed first place with a time of 14.43.

Liberty came out on top in the men’s triple jump as well. Junior Anthony Bryant timed his jumps perfectly to come away with a first place finish of 15.31m, beating the second and third place finishers by almost an entire meter.

For more results and individual player scores, visit libertyflames.com.

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