Cross country snags second-place finish at the ASUN Championship

The Flames made their way down to John Hunt Park in Huntsville, Alabama, Oct. 29 to compete in the ASUN Cross Country Championship meets for the last time as a program. Liberty’s men’s and women’s teams finished second, respectively. 

The Lady Flames had finished first in back-to-back years, but they were unable to complete the three-peat as the reigning champions were dethroned by Lipscomb 35-45. 

The men’s team finished the Championship meet in second place for the fifth consecutive year. Eastern Kentucky University’s men’s squad took the first-place prize off the backs of having eight of the top 11 finishers in the race. 

The 2022 Liberty Challenge Cross Country race is held on September 1, 2022. (Photo by Joel Coleman)

This dominance comfortably put them at the top of the pack to end the evening. The Flames second-place finish will run their top-two conference finish tally up to 20 all time, dating all the way back to the 2003 ASUN Conference Championships. 

When it comes to the individual performances, Liberty’s Calli Doan stole the show. The superstar All-American had the best time of the Championship meet for the second year in a row in the women’s 5k, with an impressive final time of 16:21. 

With this monumental run for Doan, the Lady Flames had the ASUN individual champion for the fourth year in a row. This record-setting time bested the previous record by a whooping 35 seconds. Doan was awarded Runner of the Year and First Team All-ASUN. 

Liberty’s Ava Gordon finished in seventh place in the 5k and was awarded Freshman of the Year, along with joining her teammate in Calli Doan on the First Team All-ASUN. 

Kayla Warner finished right behind her first-year counterpart in eighth place and earned herself a Second Team All-ASUN accolade and All-Freshman Team alongside Gordon. 

Other notable award winners for the Flames were Anna Hostetler, who made Second Team All-ASUN, Catherine Farrell and Priscilla Kiplagat, who both made the Third Team honors, and Katrina Schlenker, who was the third Flame to make the All-Freshman team in the ASUN Conference. 

On the men’s side, the Flames highest finisher in the 8k race was the third-place finalist, Nicholas Kiprotich. 

Nicholas’ final time was 23:30.8, the fourth best in program history. His third-place finish was the highest finish Liberty has had in the Conference Championships since 2019. Kiprotich was given First Team All-ASUN honors in just his first year with the Flames.

The 2022 Liberty Challenge Cross Country race is held on September 1, 2022. (Photo by Joel Coleman)

Jack Cottrell and Kyle Harkabus finished in back-to-back places at 13th and 14th, respectively, and both made Second Team All-ASUN. 

Caleb Olson was awarded Third Team All-ASUN honors, and Jacob Hess was voted Freshman of the Year after a fantastic rookie campaign that ended with a 28th place finish in the meet. 

Landon Dinkel also had an outstanding first season, becoming the second Flame to make the ASUN All-Freshman team along with Hess.

The Flames now look ahead to the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships, which will determine the team and individual qualifiers for the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. The meet will be held in Louisville, Kentucky, Nov. 11. The women’s 6k will begin at 11 a.m. with the men’s 10k following at noon.  

Young is a sports reporter for the Liberty Champion

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