Michael Todd (left) hands off to Colin Schultz for the final leg of Liberty's facility record-breaking men's 4 x 800 relay squad, which clocked 7:45.73 on Friday.
Host Liberty posted an impressive string of performances on the opening day of the second annual Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational, Friday at the Tolsma Indoor Track Center. The Flames and Lady Flames combined for one facility record, one meet record, three IC4A-qualifying performances and two new ECAC-qualifying marks while winning all five events they competed in.
Arguably Liberty's most incredible performance came in the men's 4 x 800 relay, as the Flames swept the top two spots with both squads dipping under the IC4A standard.
The winning 4 x 800 quartet of freshman Bradley Prentice (1:56.6 split), sophomore Andrew Crowell (1:56.3), freshman Michael Todd (1:57.4) and redshirt sophomore Colin Schultz (1:55.2) sped to a facility-record time of 7:45.73, trimming more than three and a half seconds off of the previous mark. In the process, they became the seventh-fastest indoor men's 4 x 800 grouping in program history.
Sophomore Andrew Garrett (1:57.4), redshirt freshman Jeremy Miekley (2:02.0), redshirt senior Jacob Onifer (1:58.6) and redshirt sophomore Spencer Jamison (2:01.3) comprised the runner-up 4 x 800 squad, which crossed the line in 7:59.50. The race marked Jamison's long-awaited collegiate debut, after injuries wiped out his first two seasons on campus.
Liberty's new meet record came in the women's pole vault, thanks to Mariel Finger's personal-best 12-5.5 clearance. The sophomore qualified for the ECAC meet and moved into a tie with Rachel Houseknecht for second place on Liberty's all-time indoor women's pole vault chart.
Behind Finger, teammates Audrey Rabe and Brooke Shelton each made it over 10-10 to place third and fourth, respectively.
The Lady Flames also notched an ECAC qualifier in the 4 x 800 relay with a winning time of 9:23.51 that scared the facility record of 9:21.53. Redshirt senior Ansley Gebben (2:20.2 split), freshman Delaney McDowell (2:17.2), freshman Torree Scull (2:22.5) and redshirt sophomore Alexis Taylor (2:23.5) toted the baton for the No. 3 quartet in program history.
Liberty claimed three of the top four spots in both the women's weight throw and pentathlon on Friday. Sophomore Dasiana Larson threw a personal-best 53-10.5 for top honors in the weight throw. Junior Catherine Oyarzun also notched a personal best (50-8.5), placing third in the competition and climbing to No. 7 on Liberty's all-time top 10. Sophomore Holly Arey came in fourth at 48-2.75.
Senior Erika Jackson won her second straight pentathlon title to open the 2015-16 season, following her Liberty Kickoff crown. She scored 3,516 points to defeat the defending meet champion, Riley Brandon (3,410), who competed unattached on Friday. Jackson paced all of the pentathletes with a 37-0.5 mark in the shot put.
Freshman Kylie Polsgrove took third place in the final pentathlon standings with 3,250 points, improving her score by 180 tallies from her collegiate debut at the Liberty Kickoff. Redshirt senior Audrey Bamford was fourth at 3,220.
Junior Zach Davis leads the heptathlon with his best-ever day one score of 3,061 points. He posted the competition's best marks in the long jump (22-6.5), shot put (43-9.25) and high jump (IC4A-qualifying mark of 6-10.75) on his way to a 102-point advantage over Richard Roethel, the 2012 NCAA Division III heptathlon national champion while at Christopher Newport.
Redshirt sophomore Lewis Williams sits in third place through four heptathlon events, aided by personal-best marks in the 60 (7.23) and shot put (42-0).
The Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational will resume Saturday at 9 a.m. with the men's weight throw. Two hours later, running events will begin with the prelims of the women's 60 hurdles.