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    March 15, 2023 Newark, Del. RSS |

    Precise execution of highly technical routines marked Liberty University’s figure skating team’s performance over the weekend at the University of Delaware’s Rust Arena, site of the second of three Southeast Sectional competitions for the 2022-23 season.

    The Lady Flames made a 28-point improvement on their total from the first sectional event on Nov. 19-20 at the University of South Florida (USF) to score a program-best 255 points and finish second to the host Blue Hens (284).

    “We had a great showing,” Head Coach Dawn Harter said. “The girls have been working hard since USF. Their competition mindset has been present at their weekly practices, where they spur one another on to be better. Overall, they had an exceptional weekend through the ups and downs of competition, they held it together as a team and encouraged one another. It was a very well-rounded weekend.”

    With one more Eastern Sectional competition to go — March 24-26 at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa.  — Harter is confident that her team will qualify for the April 13-16 U.S. Figure Skating Collegiate National Championships in Anaheim, Calif., with a top-four finish in the sectional standings.

    “There is still obviously room to make improvement for the next competition,” she said. “The girls are hungry to do their very best, which is always good. They brought a lot of passion and determination this weekend, and it really paid off.”

    She said Courtney Kirschke had an outstanding performance, placing first out of a group of 10 skaters in the Senior short program, with fellow senior Claire Rivas placing third in the same group.

    Senior Claire Rivas placed second in the Senior short program and fourth in the freeskate.

    Rivas also performed a new Senior long program to a medley of Elvis Presley music and placed fourth in that event.

    Seniors Marissa Harter and Sarah Hicks landed atop the podium in the Juvenile solo freedance, taking first and second, respectively, as well as finishing first in each of their solo pattern dances.

    Another senior, Olivia Walker finished first in the Senior solo freedance competition, skating an “exceptionally amazing” routine against a very strong group, according to Harter.

    “She brought the heart behind her music selection from Coldplay’s ‘Fix You,’” Harter said. “Her testimony is skated in this song and it came through.”

    In the Intermediate division, Greta Snukis turned in an amazing short program skate with all five judges placing her first. Fellow sophomores Rachel Berger and Emma Richards came in second and fifth, respectively, before Richards showed fresh fire and determination to take first in her freeskate. Snukis and senior Rebekah McBrayer placed second and fifth, respectively, in their freeskate grouping.

    Berger dominated the Novice freeskate and joined Snukis, Richards, and McBrayer in placing third in the Intermediate team maneuvers competition.

    Senior Courtney Kirschke placed first in the Senior short program.

    The low team maneuvers quartet of Harter, junior Kristine Neumeyer, Hicks and sophomore Kamden Carrera landed in second place out of 10 teams. Carrera also placed second in the Juvenile short program, behind only Elizabeth Beese of North Carolina State.

    Complete results are available online.

    Harter said as they prepare for the last sectional competition and nationals in less than a month, her skaters have sharpened each other through their side-by-side sessions on the ice.

    “I often see them working on elements together, challenging one another,” Harter said. “It is helpful to know that as a solo skater you have a team that supports you and wants to see you do well even when you are competing against each other.”

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer