Hannah Scherlacher anchored the Lady Flames' distance medley relay squad to victory on Friday at the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Liberty leads both the men's and women's team standings through Friday's events of the 2016 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships. Fred Fulton (men's weight throw), Erika Jackson (women's pentathlon), Ednah Kurgat (women's 3K) and the Lady Flames' distance medley relay quartet of Torree Scull, Bailey Reeves, Delaney McDowell and Hannah Scherlacher all captured event titles on the day.
The Liberty men's squad, chasing its 19th consecutive team title at this meet, owns an 83-53 advantage over second-place High Point through six events.
Meanwhile, the Lady Flames scored 61.5 points through Friday's half-dozen events. That puts them 26.5 points ahead of three-time defending champion Coastal Carolina, which currently sits in second place with 35 tallies.
Men's Day One Recap Fulton threw the weight a season-best 63-3.5 to claim his fourth career Big South title, but the redshirt senior's first in the weight throw. Classmate and defending conference champion David Scouten followed in second place with a season-best 62-6.5 heave.
The Flames got off to a fast start in the day's first field event, racking up 21 points in the men's pole vault. Carson Waters led the way in second place, thanks to a personal-best 16-5.25 clearance which ranks the sophomore No. 5 in program history. Senior Ken Ritchey came in third, earning his third straight All-Big South honor in the event with a 15-11.25 clearance.
Alex Geniesse also made it over 15-11.25 for fourth place, adding more than eight inches to his previous best. The redshirt junior's effort punched his IC4A ticket and moved him into 10th place on Liberty's all-time list. Fellow junior Zach Gilroy added a seventh-place finish at 14-11.5.
Liberty's distance medley relay squad of Colin Schultz, Michael Todd, Andrew Garrett and Luke Jelen also recorded an IC4A qualifier with their runner-up time of 10:18.74. Todd's 48.47 split for the 400-meter leg was the fastest of the competition.
Zach Davis picked up the sixth All-Big South medal of his career, high jumping 6-9.75 for second place. Competing in his sixth event of the day, Gilroy made it over 5-10.5 for the eighth position.
Darrel Jones came in third in the men's long jump at 23-6. Defending champion Aklesso Agama reached a season-best and IC4A-qualifying 23-1.75 for the fourth position, while Davis took fifth place with a season-best 22-11 leap.
Jeremie Bourget (personal-best 8:29.21), Cameron Francis (8:34.05) and Azaria Kirwa (8:34.14) placed fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively, in the men's 3K.
Through Friday's quartet of heptathlon disciplines, Gilroy sits in second place with 2,561 points. He set personal bests in both the long jump (20-3.75) and shot put (38-2.75) and high jumped a season-best 6-3.25.
Aided by a personal-best 42-3.25 in the shot put, teammate Lewis Williams ranks fourth in the heptathlon with 2,493 points, just 11 markers out of third place.
Liberty also fared well in Friday's running event prelims, as Stephen Racanelli (21.85 in the 200, 48.82 in the 400), Todd (1:55.95 in the 800) and Ryan Davis (8.39 in the 60 hurdles) each posted the day's fastest qualifying times in their respective events. Additionally, the Flames sent four athletes into Saturday's final in both the 400 and 800.
Women's Day One Recap Despite running in the slower-seeded section, Kurgat successfully defended her Big South women's 3K championship in impressive fashion. Her winning time of 9:32.67, the fastest clocking at this meet in 18 years, broke the school record of 9:38.90, set by Jacy Christiansen in 2014, and notched an ECAC qualifier.
Teammate Kat Bouton's personal-best 3K time of 10:37.64 added an eight-place finish in the event.
All four Lady Flames placed inside the pentathlon's top eight, led by Jackson with a personal-best score of 3,595. The second-best winning score in meet history gave Liberty three straight Big South pentathlon crowns, following Riley Brandon's back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015. Jackson's top event on the day was the 60 hurdles, where she clocked a personal-best time of 8.93 for No. 10 on the Lady Flames' all-time list.
Freshman Kylie Polsgrove came in fourth with 3,386 points, putting her just two points behind third place in the event and into the ninth position in program history. Polsgrove high jumped a season-best 5-6, which is tied for fifth all-time at Liberty, and closed the competition with a personal-best 2:26.80 in the 800.
Audrey Bamford came in sixth (season-best 3,246), while Jessica Harrison was eighth (season-best 3,171). Harrison won the pentathlon's final event with a 2:25.49 800.
The Lady Flames closed the opening day with a bang, winning the distance medley relay with the second-fastest winning time in meet history, 12:01.92. The clocking met the ECAC standard and ranks fourth on Liberty's all-time list.
Liberty's winning relay squad began with three freshmen (Scull, Reeves and McDowell), before handing off to a veteran of the Lady Flames' 2014 Big South distance medley relay champion squad in Scherlacher. Scull gave Liberty a sizeable early lead with her 3:38.90 carry for 1,200 meters and Scherlacher sealed the victory with a gutsy 5:08.91 1,600-meter anchor.
The biggest highlight of Dana Mercer's busy day came in the women's long jump, where she leaped 18-9 for second place. More on the redshirt junior to follow.
Mariel Finger tied for fourth place (11-9.75) to pace the Lady Flames' pole vault trio. Audrey Rabe also made it over 11-9.75 for sixth place, while Rachael Fasana cleared 11-3.75 to take seventh.
Sophomores Dasiana Larson (5th place, 56-1.75) and Holly Arey (11th place, 51-11.25) both set new personal bests in the women's weight throw. Arey claimed the No. 7 spot in program history in the process.
Erin Edmond was the No. 1 qualifier in the women's 400 dash prelims at 55.74, leading three Lady Flames into Saturday's final.
Mercer's personal-best and ECAC-qualifying 200 dash time of 24.90 highlighted Liberty's trio of finalists in that event. It also moved her into sixth place in program history.
Mercer (7.70, tied for 5th all-time) and Kate Flower (7.72, tied for 9th all-time) both cracked the Lady Flames' all-time top 10 list while advancing to the women's 60 final.
Jackson (9.01) and Polsgrove (personal-best 9.05) both found time to qualify for the 60 hurdles final during the pentathlon competition.
The 2016 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships will resume Saturday at 10 a.m. with the heptathlon 60-meter hurdles.