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Kurgat Places 7th in Record Time at Virginia

September 26, 2015  Earlysville, Va.  RSS
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Ednah Kurgat placed seventh on Saturday in a Liberty women's cross country 5K record time of 17:11.1.

Ednah Kurgat placed seventh on Saturday in a Liberty women's cross country 5K record time of 17:11.1.

Despite damp conditions, Liberty freshman Ednah Kurgat raced to an impressive seventh-place finish in a Liberty women's cross country 5K record time of 17:11.1 at Saturday morning's Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational at Panorama Farms. Meanwhile, both the Liberty men's and women's squads tied with Big South rival High Point in the final team standings, with the Flames sharing ninth place and the Lady Flames tying for the 11th position.

Led by freshman Azaria Kirwa's 28th-place overall finish, the Liberty men's squad tied with defending Big South champion High Point for ninth place out of 15 entrants, with both teams totaling 247 points. No. 9 Virginia captured the men's team title with 41 points, followed by runner-up Oklahoma (58 points) and third-place No. 18 Furman (88). Campbell was the top Big South men's team on the day, coming in fifth with a score of 166.

Liberty entered the meet listed No. 15 in the Southeast Region men's rankings, but that could change this week, as the Flames tied the No. 9 team in the region (High Point) and defeated the No. 10 team in the region (Wake Forest) on Saturday.

Kurgat's performance, which broke Jennifer Klugh's program record from 2012, contributed to the Lady Flames' final team score of 284 points. That deadlocked Liberty with the defending Big South champion Panthers for 11th place in the field of 15 teams. No. 16 Virginia made it a sweep of the team titles for the host school, with the Cavaliers' score of 30 points far outdistancing SEC foes Mississippi State (83) and Auburn (106). Coastal Carolina ended up as the top Big South women's squad, tallying 195 points for seventh place.

Men's 8K Race Recap
Kirwa made a successful debut at the 8K distance, crossing the line 28th of 124 with a time of 24:45.6. That made him the third-fastest freshman in the race and the third Big South runner to finish.

Redshirt juniors Jeremie Bourget and Josh Showalter followed across the finish line within the next 20 seconds, after each passing more than a dozen runners during the final three kilometers.

Bourget came in 37th place in 24:58.0, while Showalter clocked a big personal-best time of 25:04.2 for 40th place. Showalter shaved 42 seconds off of his previous best 8K effort, achieved at the 2014 Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational.

Freshman James Zentmeyer placed 81st in 26:04.9, with redshirt sophomore Luke Jelen closing out the Flames' five scorers in 85th place with a 26:17.0 clocking.

Sophomore Cameron Francis, the sixth and final Flame to compete on Saturday, ended up 118th with an official time of 28:40.5.

Women's 5K Race Recap
Kurgat, who had opened her collegiate career with an individual victory at the Sept. 2 UVa Duals, led during the early stages of Saturday's race. The native of Eldoret, Kenya ended up placing seventh overall among the field of 126, including second among freshmen and second among Big South competitors.

Kurgat's 5K time of 17:11.1 was seven seconds faster than the previous Liberty record of 17:18.72, set by Klugh at the 2012 Big South Cross Country Championships in Rock Hill, S.C. Kurgat has now broken the Liberty 5K records in both cross country and indoor track & field during her first year on campus.

The next two Lady Flames to finish on Saturday were also freshmen, as Torree Scull clocked 18:42.8 for 52nd place in her collegiate debut and classmate Anna Van Wyk crossed the line 78th in a time of 19:25.1.

Junior Lindsey Bray (88th place, 19:46.5) and freshman Aryn Embretson (90th, 19:47.4) closed out Liberty's scoring.

Redshirt sophomore Alyssa Karle dipped under the 20-minute mark for the first time in her career, posting a time of 19:50.0 for 91st place. Junior Terrill Zentmeyer served as the Lady Flames' No. 7 runner on the day, clocking 20:02.2 for the 95th position.

Liberty will be back in action next Saturday (Oct. 3), traveling to Spartanburg, S.C., for the Upstate Invitational/Big South Preview. The meet will be contested at the Milliken Center, site of the 2015 Big South Cross Country Championships, with the women's 5K starting at 9 a.m. and the men's 8K following at 9:45.