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Darius Dixon Memorial Invite to Feature Grand Opening

January 25, 2017  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Stephen Racanelli will attempt to win his third straight Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational men's 400 dash title on Saturday.

Stephen Racanelli will attempt to win his third straight Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational men's 400 dash title on Saturday.

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Liberty Indoor Track Complex

The third annual Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational will be the third meet ever contested at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex and will feature the facility's grand opening ceremony on Saturday.

The meet will begin Friday at 5 p.m. with the men's 4 x 800 relay. Saturday's events will commence with the men's weight throw at 9:30 a.m. The grand opening ceremony will then begin at 10:30 a.m., just prior to the start of the day's running events at 11.

A Darius Dixon recognition will take place at 1:25 p.m., leading into the start of his signature event, the men's 400-meter dash, at 1:30.

Admission is free to all spectators.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results will be available during both days of competition, by clicking the appropriate links on the Liberty track & field schedule/results page.

Scouting the Competition
Liberty will square off against Big South Conference foes Gardner-Webb, High Point, Radford and UNC Asheville this weekend, among a total of 22 colleges and universities slated to compete. Other NCAA Division I entrants include College of Charleston, Elon, Hampton, James Madison, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central, Pacific, UNCW, VCU, Virginia and Wake Forest.

Remembering Darius
Darius Dixon, a promising freshman sprinter from Western Branch High School in Chesapeake, Va., opened his Liberty track & field career by competing in the 200 and 400-meter dash events at the Liberty Kickoff on Dec. 5, 2013. Two days later, he was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 18.

In his memory, Liberty will hold a Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational meet for the third straight year. The inaugural Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational was contested on Dec. 3-4, 2014 at the Tolsma Indoor Track Center.

Grand Opening
The Liberty Indoor Track Complex's grand opening ceremony will begin Saturday at 10:30 a.m. It will feature comments from Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr., Liberty Director of Athletics Ian McCaw and Liberty Track & Field Head Coach Brant Tolsma, a prayer by program founder and former Liberty Track & Field Head Coach Jake Matthes and a ribbon cutting.

About the Facility
The 169,000-square-foot Liberty Indoor Track Complex is highlighted by a six-lane, 200-meter, hydraulically banked oval. The facility, which includes permanent seating for approximately 1,500 spectators, also boasts ample space for athletes. Competitors are availed a sizeable mezzanine area which sits above an eight-lane, 100-meter warm-up straightaway.

Other amenities in the facility include a 6,000-square-foot weight room, a 3,000-square-foot training room and underwater treadmill, a coaches' hospitality room with windows that overlook the track, a concessions area, a press box, a scoreboard with live results and videoboard showing instant replays, ample restrooms, locker rooms and office space.

The Liberty Indoor Track Complex opened to rave reviews and record-setting performances at the VA Showcase meet, Jan. 13-14. The competition attracted 3,200 high school athletes, including a team from Jamaica, and national high school records fell in the girls' distance medley relay and boys' 300-meter dash.

Olympian Bershawn "Batman" Jackson was the first prominent professional athlete to compete at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex. He clocked a facility-record 500 dash time of 1:01.41 at the Liberty Kickoff on Jan. 21.

The Liberty Indoor Track Complex is located beneath the LU monogram off of Candlers Mountain Road. The road leading back to the facility may be found directly across the street from the Fairfield Inn & Suites. The hotel's address is 3777 Candlers Mountain Road, Lynchburg, VA 24502.

Record Breakers
Three Liberty program records went down at the Liberty Kickoff, including the men's 60 hurdles, men's triple jump and women's triple jump.

Ken Howell had owned the men's 60 hurdles record of 8.08 since Feb. 21, 1999 before redshirt freshman Jovaine Atkinson lowered it to 8.07 in the prelims and 7.94 in the final.

Clarence Powell's men's triple jump standard of 50-6 had lasted since Jan. 22, 2010. However, the first attempt of Darrel Jones' junior season measured a school-record 50-9.25.

Jonisha Saunders' women's triple jump mark of 40-7.75, established on March 1, 2003, was eclipsed by one-half inch, thanks to redshirt senior Janae Jones' 40-8.25 leap.

All three program record breakers were named Big South Athletes of the Week on Wednesday, along with teammate Anna Van Wyk, who was tabbed Big South Women's Indoor Track Athlete of the Week.

Atkinson will race in the 60 hurdles again Saturday morning, beginning around 11:15 a.m., but both Darrel and Janae Jones will focus on other events this weekend.

Going for the Triple
Four athletes will attempt to win their event at the Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational for the third consecutive year, including Liberty's Stephen Racanelli (men's 400), Dana Mercer (women's long jump) and Erin Zappia (women's high jump), along with Liberty alumnus John Sherret (men's 800).

Racanelli is certainly familiar with Darius Dixon, competing in the same heat of the men's 200 dash at the 2013 Liberty Kickoff, which turned out to be Dixon's final race.

Racanelli will be challenged to defend his 400 title on Saturday, facing a strong field headlined by Chidi Okezie. The former Hampton standout owns a personal best of 45.65 seconds and placed third at the 2016 African Championships, representing Nigeria.

Give Me Your Best Shot
Saturday's men's shot put competition, set to begin at 2:30 p.m., will feature a pair of Olympians from Rio, including Croatians Stipe Zunic and Filip Mihaljevic. Zunic currently ranks No. 2 in the world for 2017 at 67-10.25, while Mihaljevic was the 2016 NCAA Division I outdoor men's shot put national champion for Virginia.

Big South's Best
After the Flames' opening meet of the season, the Liberty Kickoff, Liberty athletes rank atop the Big South Conference performance list in numerous events.

Liberty's conference-leading performers on the women's side include Jessie Glynn (pole vault – 12-3.5), Janae Jones (triple jump – 40-8.25), Kylie Polsgrove (pentathlon – 3,472) and Anna Van Wyk (mile – 4:53.88).

On the men's side, the following Flames lead the Big South in their respective events: Jovaine Atkinson (60 hurdles – 7.94), Zach Davis (heptathlon – 4,957), Darrel Jones (triple jump – 50-9.25) and Carson Waters (pole vault – 16-4.75).

Liberty also leads the conference in both the women's (3:50.27) and men's (3:19.66) 4 x 400 relays.

The 2017 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships will take place Feb. 25-26 at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, N.C.