Freshman Valerie Wierenga (front) was the Lady Flames' top finisher on Thursday, placing 13th at the season-opening UVA Duals.
Junior Cameron Francis (eighth place in the men's 4K) and freshman Valerie Wierenga (13th place in the women's 4K) were Liberty's top individual finishers at the season-opening UVA Duals, Thursday evening at Panorama Farms.
Francis was one of three Flames to clock sub-13:00 times on the undulating 4K course, helping the Liberty men's squad defeat Norfolk State, 25-35. The Flames dropped their other dual competition to the host team, No. 15 Virginia, by a score of 15-43.
The first six Lady Flames to cross the finish line were separated by only 10 seconds, but Liberty fell to a pair of strong opponents on the warm, sunny day. No. 16 Virginia defeated the Lady Flames by a 15-50 count. Meanwhile, James Madison, ranked No. 10 in the Southeast Region, posted a 15-40 triumph over Liberty.
Men's Race Recap Francis clocked a 4K time of 12:51, putting the Commonwealth native eighth out of 21 men's runners in the race and first on the team.
He was followed closely by freshman Stanley Langat (ninth place, 12:56) and junior Graham Hansel (11th, 12:57).
Redshirt senior team captain Josh Showalter placed 12th in 13:04, while sophomore Azaria Kirwa and redshirt junior Luke Jelen recorded identical times of 13:10 for the 13th and 14th spots. Sophomore James Zentmeyer closed out Liberty's top seven, finishing 16th in 13:22.
Women's Race Recap Wierenga, one of two freshmen among the Lady Flames' top seven, ran a 4K time of 16:02 to finish 13th in the 34-runner field.
The next five runners to finish were also Lady Flames, including sophomore Anna Van Wyk (14th place, 16:04), senior Terrill Zentmeyer (15th, 16:07), freshman Kelly Shaffer (16th, 16:10), redshirt sophomore Lacie Robinson (17th, 16:11) and senior Lindsey Bray (18th, 16:12).
Senior Kat Bouton, the team co-captain along with Zentmeyer, was 20th overall and seventh on the team in 16:23.
Liberty will remain within the Commonwealth for its next meet, the Sept. 16 VT Alumni Invite. The races will be contested at Virginia Tech's Buford Meredith Cross Country Course, beginning with the women's 6K at 6 p.m. The men's 8K race will follow at 6:35 p.m.