Flames claim three event victories

Liberty’s track and field teams set two new program records and a conference record after competing in multiple meets

After a busy weekend March 27-29 at three different meets, Liberty’s track and field teams returned home with three event titles and several program and conference records.

Despite slippery conditions on the track due to rain, redshirt junior Caleb Edmonds and senior Josh MacDonald finished in the top 15 of the men’s 5,000-meter race at the Raleigh Relays. Edmonds finished in 14:02.84 for 10th place, while MacDonald crossed the finish line a few seconds later at 14:05.87 for the 13th spot.

Liberty also sent several athletes to compete in the 87th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, where four Lady Flames combined for two new program records and a Big South Conference record.

record runs — Liberty broke school records in the 400-meter hurdles and the sprint medley relay. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

Record runs — Liberty broke school records in the 400-meter hurdles and the sprint medley relay. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

Redshirt sophomore Ansley Gebben broke the Liberty record she tied last year in the 400-meter hurdles. Gebben finished in 1:00.42 for 14th place out of 62 competitors.

Gebben captured another program record with the help of junior Abigail Flower, freshman Oasis Hernandez and redshirt senior Meghan Burggraf in the sprint medley relay. After two 200-meter legs, a 400-meter portion and an 800-meter anchor leg, the quartet came out with a time of 3:53.34. The team won their heat and finished seventh overall, breaking both the Liberty and conference records in the process.

The group bettered the previous program record, which was set in 2001, by more than four seconds and broke the Big South record, set in 2008, by more than three seconds.

In addition to their success on the track in Texas, the Lady Flames received a boost from junior Jennifer Nicholson in the field.

Nicholson threw the discus to a new personal best of 164-11 for second place in her section. The discus landed farther than all but six of her competitors in either section. Her throw currently sits atop the Big South season rankings by more than 30 feet.

“My performance this weekend was a great encourager, because even though I had a personal-best throw, I still have some areas that I can still improve on,” Nicholson said. “My goal at the moment is to (throw more than two feet) further this season. … (I’m) really taking every practice as a growing time so that I am able to compete to my full potential.”

The Flames also excelled at the Winthrop Invitational. In the field, the Flames recorded top-three finishes in six different events despite rain, mud and waterlogged throwing circles.

Redshirt sophomore David Scouten won the hammer throw with his 179-6 heave. Scouten beat out 2012 and 2013 conference champions with his throw, which was also a new personal record by more than 16 feet.

Scouten also finished second, and first among college athletes, in the discus with his personal-best throw of 167-5. The mark currently ranks first on the Big South season rankings list by more than six feet.

“I am excited about the results in the hammer and disc considering the amount of rain and mud,” Scouten said. “Those conditions make throwing more difficult, so I am excited to see what I can do in more optimal conditions.”

Redshirt senior Jacob DeValve followed with first and second-place finishes in the javelin and shot put, respectively.

DeValve’s first javelin throw soared to 182-7 and was the best throw of the day. In the shot put, DeValve added a second-place finish with his 52-10.25 throw. The throw was the farthest among all collegiate competitors in the event and is currently at the top of the Big South season standings.

Freshman Zach Davis also brought home an event title for the Flames with his personal-best 22-1.75 leap in the long jump. Davis also tied for third place in the high jump with his 6-8.75 jump.

“(W)inning long jump was a huge blessing,” Davis said. “… I am working toward clearing seven feet in the high jump. … I plan to do everything within my capabilities to improve, and then let God do what he does best.”

Liberty will again divide its teams for the next two meets. A few distance runners will race in the Stanford Invitational, while most of the athletes will compete in the first home meet of the outdoor season, the Liberty Collegiate Invitational, Friday and Saturday, April 4-5.

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