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Liberty Men Win 18th Straight BSC Title, Women Place 2nd

February 27, 2015  Winston-Salem, N.C.  RSS
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The Liberty men's squad celebrates its 18th consecutive Big South indoor team title.

The Liberty men's squad celebrates its 18th consecutive Big South indoor team title.

For the 18th consecutive year, Liberty took home the men's team title at the 2015 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships, which concluded Friday at the JDL Fast Track. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames finished as the runner-up for the third year in a row.

The Flames, who have won all 18 Big South men's indoor track & field team titles ever contested, boast the longest championship streak in any sport in conference history. They also own the longest active conference championship streak in NCAA Division I men's indoor track & field.

Liberty's latest title came in dominating fashion, as the Flames racked up 235 points to outdistance runner-up Campbell's score of 146. Liberty's 235 points were its most at this meet since 2000 and its 89-point margin of victory was its largest since 2008.

The Lady Flames finished with 140 points for second place in the nine-team field. Coastal Carolina earned its third straight women's championship at this meet with a final score of 196.5.

At the meet's conclusion, Aklesso Agama (Big South Men's Outstanding Field Performer), Ednah Kurgat (Big South Women's Freshman of the Year) and Brant Tolsma (Big South Men's Coach of the Year) all took home major individual awards. Kurgat was the Lady Flames' first-ever Freshman of the Year at this meet, while Tolsma collected his 57th Big South Coach of the Year trophy.

Liberty was represented on the Big South All-Academic Team by the duo of Janae Jones (junior nursing major, 3.71 GPA) and John Sherret (senior biology: pre-med major, 3.94).

Men's Day Two Recap
The Liberty men's squad won five events on Friday, including a pair by sophomore Stephen Racanelli. He won the 200 (21.93) and 400 (49.13) dash titles for the first two Big South event championships of his career.

Racanelli became the Flames' first men's 200 champion at this meet since Jeremy Wagner in 2003 and Liberty's first runner to pull off the 200/400 sweep since Liberty Athletics Hall of Famer Mike Decker did so in 2001.

In the 400, Racanelli was followed closely by teammates Ryan Davis (runner-up, 49.91) and Ryan Versen (third place, 50.41), both of whom clocked season-best times. Davis' effort was good enough to meet the IC4A standard. It was the first time since 2000 that Liberty has gone 1-2-3 in the men's 400 final at this meet.

Later on, Davis and Versen bookended the Flames' victorious 4 x 400 relay quartet, which clocked 3:23.25. They were joined by Jeff Jacobs and Sherret, who gave Liberty the lead for good on the third leg.

David Scouten won the men's weight throw by four and a half feet with a season-best 61-10.25 heave. Redshirt freshman teammate Trevor VanAsselt came in fifth while extending his personal best to 54-7.5.

Paced by Agama, Liberty scored 19 points in the men's triple jump. The sophomore reached a career-best 50-2 to win the event, move up to No. 3 in program history and become Liberty's fifth member of the 50-foot triple jump club, indoors or out. Agama, who also took top honors in the long jump on Thursday, is Liberty's first men's indoor long jump/triple jump champion at this meet since Chad Wilson in 2004.

Freshman teammate Darrel Jones joined Agama on the podium, earning his first All-Big South honor with a third-place triple jump showing (47-5).

The Flames added 19 more points in the men's high jump, paced by Kyle Wheeler (runner-up, 6-9), Zach Davis (third place, 6-8) and Tevan McIntire (fifth place, 6-2.75). Wheeler was denied in his bid for his fourth consecutive Big South indoor men's high jump title but punched his IC4A ticket with a season-best 6-9 clearance.

Davis and McIntire both fared well in the high jump, shortly after wrapping up the heptathlon competition. For Davis, the high jump was his ninth event of the two-day meet.

Davis ended up second in the heptathlon with 4,754 points, while fellow sophomore Zach Gilroy was third for the second consecutive year at 4,667. Gilroy's 14-5.25 pole vault clearance helped him move up in the standings, after ending the first day in sixth place.

Ryan Davis was the 60 hurdles runner-up in a time of 8.41 seconds, becoming the Flames' first All-Big South performer in the event since 2009. Caleb Fraley followed in 8.53 for a fourth-place finish.

Sherret made a strong bid to win his first Big South 800 title before ending up third at 1:55.78, just .32 seconds behind champion Morgan Timiney of Campbell. Teammates Trevor Hope (1:56.77) and Andrew Crowell (1:58.07) were right behind in fourth and fifth places, respectively.

Titus Koech (fourth place, 14:43.28) and Sam Hibbs (fifth place, 14:49.32) both notched top-five finishes in the 5K. Koech's time qualified the freshman for the IC4A meet.

Women's Day Two Recap
Senior Abigail Flower was victorious in both the 60 and 200 dash finals for the Lady Flames on Friday for the first two Big South titles of her career. She won the 60 in convincing fashion, thanks to a personal-best time of 7.49. Flower then became Liberty's first women's 200 titlist since Panthera Seymour in 2001 with a winning time of 24.60.

Sister Kate Flower added a fifth-place finish at 200 meters, crossing the finish line in 25.53 seconds.

Abigail Flower later led off for the Lady Flames' runner-up 4 x 400 relay squad. She was joined by Corinn Bedell, Mary Witmer and Ansley Gebben for a 3:51.96 effort.

Earlier, Gebben had placed fourth in the 400 dash final for the second straight year, clocking a season-best time of 56.31 seconds.

Jocelyn Williams nearly repeated as Big South women's weight throw champion, owning the lead before she was overtaken by Winthrop's Marthaline Cooper in round six. Williams ended up second place with a season-best mark of 62-3.

After winning the 3K title on Thursday, Kurgat picked up another All-Big South honor with a third-place finish in the mile at 4:55.67. Jacy Christiansen ended up fifth at 5:03.68.

Jones triple jumped 38-8.25 to place fourth in the event.

Liberty will next head to Boston for the 2015 IC4A and ECAC Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, slated for March 6-8 at the Boston University Track & Field Pavilion.

Final Men's Team Standings
1) Liberty – 235

2) Campbell – 146
3) High Point – 131
4) Gardner-Webb – 79
5) Winthrop – 49
6) UNC Asheville – 15

Final Women's Team Standings
1) Coastal Carolina – 196.5
2) Liberty – 140
3) Radford – 69
4) High Point – 64.66
5) Campbell – 60.5
6) Gardner-Webb – 43.83
7) Charleston Southern – 37
8) Winthrop – 34.5
9) UNC Asheville – 17

Men's Outstanding Track Performer
Amon Terer, Campbell

Women's Outstanding Track Performer
Jessica Gelibert, Coastal Carolina

Men's Outstanding Field Performer
Aklesso Agama, Liberty

Women's Outstanding Field Performer
Amirah Al-Bayinnah, Coastal Carolina

Men's Freshman of the Year
Lawrence Kipkoech, Campbell

Women's Freshman of the Year
Ednah Kurgat, Liberty

Men's Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Paul O'Donoghue, High Point

Women's Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Teresa Williamson, Radford

Men's All-Academic Team
AJ White, Gardner-Webb
Lorne Jenkins, Campbell
Caleb Smith, UNC Asheville
Paul O'Donoghue, High Point
Carlo Raiteri, Winthrop
John Sherret, Liberty

Women's All-Academic Team
Jamie Schnuck, High Point
Elise Moffatt, Gardner-Webb
Emma Kroger, Coastal Carolina
Janae Jones, Liberty
LaQuestis Scott, Charleston Southern
Teresa Williamson, Radford
Adrian Etheridge, UNC Asheville
Alesha Love, Winthrop
Kelsey Rea, Campbell

Men's Coach of the Year
Brant Tolsma, Liberty

Women's Coach of the Year
Brent Chumbley, Radford