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Liberty Elite Invitational to Close Out 2017 Home Slate

February 8, 2017  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty's Zach Davis (#1) and Markus Ballengee (#2) are two athletes to watch in the Liberty Elite Invitational heptathlon competition this weekend.

Liberty's Zach Davis (#1) and Markus Ballengee (#2) are two athletes to watch in the Liberty Elite Invitational heptathlon competition this weekend.

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Meet Schedule

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Liberty will close out its inaugural season of competition at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex by hosting the Liberty Elite Invitational. The 11-team event will take place Friday and Saturday.

The meet will begin with the men's weight throw, Friday at 2 p.m. Saturday's events will get started at 10 a.m., with the men's and women's long jump and the women's pole vault. Running events will commence one hour later, when the gun goes off for the heptathlon 60-meter hurdles.

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.

Periodic updates will be posted to Twitter on the Liberty Gameday (@LUGameday) and Track & Field (@Liberty_XCTF) during the meet.

Scouting the Competition
Liberty will square off against competitors from Charleston Southern, Charlotte, Duke, East Carolina, Elon, James Madison, North Carolina A&T, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest this weekend. In this week's USTFCCCA NCAA Division I national rankings, the Virginia men's team is listed No. 4, while the Virginia Tech men's squad checks in at No. 18.

The meet will also feature some high-level post-collegiate athletes, three of whom competed in last summer's Rio Olympic Games. They include Darrell Wesh (Haiti, men's 100-meter dash), Olu Olamigoke (Nigeria, men's triple jump) and Virginia's Filip Mihaljevic (Croatia, men's shot put).

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 facility will play host to its first collegiate championship event this Sunday and Monday, when the 2017 CIAA Indoor Track & Field Championships are held at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex.

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.

Big South's Best
With the Liberty Elite Invitational marking the Flames' final tune-up for the Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships, Liberty athletes rank atop the Big South Conference performance list in numerous events.

Liberty's conference-leading performers on the women's side include Tanner Ealum (400 – 56.53), Jessie Glynn (pole vault – 12-3.5), Janae Jones (triple jump – 40-8.25), Delaney McDowell (800 – 2:10.31), 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 (high jump – 6-9.75 and heptathlon – 4,957), Darrel Jones (triple jump – 50-9.25), Azaria Kirwa (5K – 14:29.50), Stephen Racanelli (400 – 49.00), Colin Schultz (800 – 1:51.25) and Carson Waters (pole vault – 16-11).

Liberty also leads the conference in both the women's (3:49.91) and men's (3:17.25) 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.

Event Capsules (Organized Chronologically)
Men's Weight Throw – Friday at 2 p.m.
Liberty does not have any entrants in an event which should be dominated by East Carolina. The Pirates' Ryan Davis has thrown 62-3 this season, while teammate Adam Manns has reached 61-3.

Men's Heptathlon – Day 1 begins Friday at 2:15 p.m., Day 2 begins Saturday at 11 a.m.
Only seven athletes are slated to compete in the heptathlon, but three of the entrants are 7,000-point scorers in the decathlon. They include Virginia's Jack Lint (7,179), Liberty's Zach Davis (7,171) and Virginia's Cameron Collins (7,004). Davis owns the facility heptathlon record with his score of 4,957 from the Liberty Kickoff, but that score will be in serious jeopardy this weekend. Other contenders include Liberty freshman Markus Ballengee, who scored an impressive 4,943 points in his collegiate debut at the Liberty Kickoff, and Liberty senior Zach Gilroy, the defending Big South heptathlon champion.

Women's Pentathlon – Competition begins Friday at 2:30 p.m.
Liberty's Kylie Polsgrove will be competing in her second pentathlon of the season after scoring a personal-best and facility-record 3,472 points to win at the Liberty Kickoff. She will be pushed by Emily Dixon of Elon on Friday. Dixon won the 2016 CAA heptathlon competition with 5,059 points.

Women's Weight Throw – Friday at 5:15 p.m.
Charlotte's Victoria Merriweather is the top seed in the women's weight throw, as the senior currently ranks No. 12 in the nation at 68-0.25. Other featured competitors include East Carolina's Mohogany Baker (fourth place in the American Athletic Conference in 2016) and Wake Forest's Alva Hicks (Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational champion). Liberty's Dasiana Larson will look to continue her strong junior season, which has included a new personal best of 57-10.5. Teammate Catherine Oyarzun is just four inches away from reaching the ECAC standard of 52-6.

Women's 5,000-Meter Run – Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Elon looks for a strong showing in Friday's final women's race. Shelby Cuddeback owns the facility record in the 3K (9:57.68), while teammate Coralea Geraniotis clocked a 5K time of 16:47.71 last season. Jessie Proehl is Liberty's lone entrant in the event, and she will look to improve upon her season-debut time of 18:54.99 from the Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational.

Men's 5,000-Meter Run – Friday at 6:55 p.m.
The men's 5K will feature a pair of athletes making their season debut at the distance following strong 3K performances. Duke's Nikhil Pulimood has run 8:22.50 for the 3K, while East Carolina's Nicholas Ciaccia has posted an 8:25.70.

Men's Long Jump – Saturday at 10 a.m.
Liberty's top jumpers will focus on other events this weekend, but the long jump should still be a strong event. Former St. Augustine's All-American DeJon Wilkinson owns a personal best of 25-9.5. The field also includes last season's fourth-place finishers in the American Athletic Conference (East Carolina's Hakeem Horton) and Conference USA (Charlotte's Jaylon Holt).

Women's Long Jump – Saturday at 10 a.m.
James Madison will enter a pair of 20-foot long jumpers in Ebony Owusu-Sampah (20-2.25) and Kennedy King (20-1.5), the Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational champion. Liberty's Dana Mercer (18-7.75 season best) and Janae Jones (18-6 season best) rank 2-3 on this season's Big South performance list.

Women's Pole Vault – Saturday at 10 a.m.
Virginia's Bridget Guy, who owns a personal-best clearance of 13-10.5, placed fourth in last year's ACC meet. She will be challenged by 2016 Big South outdoor champion Jill Marois, a High Point graduate, as well as Duke's Chesney Ward, coming off of a 13-1.5 effort last weekend. Lady Flames currently own the top three marks in the Big South this season, including Jessie Glynn (12-3.5), Mariel Finger (11-9.75) and Audrey Rabe (11-9).

Men's 60-Meter Hurdles – Prelims on Saturday at 11:10 a.m. and Final on Saturday at 12:07 p.m.
Jovaine Atkinson has gotten his collegiate career off to a flying start, including his Liberty 60-meter hurdles record time of 7.94 at the Liberty Kickoff. On Saturday, he will chase North Carolina A&T sophomore Michael Dickson, who currently ranks No. 2 nationally with a time of 7.63.

Women's 60-Meter Hurdles – Prelims on Saturday at 11:20 a.m. and Final on Saturday at Noon
Top entrants in the women's 60 hurdles include Virginia's Heather Smith (a 58.17-second 400 hurdler), James Madison's Aereale Scott (fifth place in last year's ECAC indoor meet) and Wake Forest's Hunter Roberts (Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational champion). Liberty freshman Katie Dodson enjoyed a breakthrough performance with her 8.90 clocking at last weekend's Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup. Talented classmate Jaiden Mulder is expected to make her collegiate debut this weekend.

Men's 60-Meter Dash – Prelims on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and Final on Saturday at 12:15 p.m.
How fast could the men's 60-meter dash be? Charleston Southern's Joshua Paramore has run a Big South-leading time of 6.94 seconds this season and could have difficulty making the final. North Carolina A&T's Christopher Belcher is the top seed at 6.64, which is tied for seventh in the NCAA this season. Darrell Wesh, a 2016 Olympian at 100 meters, will also compete. Liberty's Jovaine Atkinson is slated to make his 60-meter debut between rounds of the 60-meter hurdles on Saturday.

Women's 60-Meter Dash – Prelims on Saturday at 11:40 a.m. and Final on Saturday at 12:20 p.m.
North Carolina A&T should fare well in the women's 60-meter dash, led by the duo of India Brown (defending MEAC champion) and Kayla White (time of 7.42 this season). Liberty's top entrant is Dana Mercer, coming off of a season-best 7.76 performance at last weekend's Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup.

Men's Mile – Saturday at 12:35 p.m.
The men's mile facility record of 4:11.26 will be put to the test on Saturday. Saucony's Donnie Cowart headlines the field. The Rustburg High School and VMI graduate owns personal bests of 3:58 in the mile and 8:23 in the steeplechase. The top collegiate entrant is Alec Kunzweiler of Duke, who clocked 4:05.51 a year ago. Liberty's duo of Cameron Francis and Colin Schultz will hope to become the Flames' first sub-4:10 milers since Sam Chelanga on Jan. 21, 2011.

Women's Mile – Saturday at 12:50 p.m.
Virginia's Cleo Boyd, a 10K All-American last season, will step down in distance on Saturday. Liberty's entrants include Torree Scull, making her season debut after running 4:58.39 as a freshman in 2016, and Kammi Kurtz, on the heels of a breakthrough 10:07.48 3K last weekend at Penn State.

Men's Triple Jump – Saturday at 1 p.m.
Liberty's Darrel Jones has gotten his junior season off to a strong start, triple jumping a program-record 50-9.25 at the Liberty Kickoff and winning the Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup with a 50-6 leap. On Saturday, he will face 2016 Olympian Olu Olamigoke (55-8.5 personal best) and fellow post-collegiate athlete DeJon Wilkinson (53-11.25 personal best).

Women's Triple Jump – Saturday at 1 p.m.
Reigning Big South Women's Indoor Field Athlete of the Week Janae Jones (school-record 40-8.25) is one of four entrants who has sailed past 40 feet this season. The other three include Virginia Tech's Eszter Bajnok (41-1), North Carolina A&T's Anisa Toppin (40-11) and East Carolina's Jada Cunningham (40-6.25).

Men's Pole Vault – Saturday at 1 p.m.
Liberty's Carson Waters has won back-to-back Big South Men's Indoor Field Athlete of the Week honors and is coming off of a personal-best 16-11 clearance at the Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup. He will face a couple familiar foes on Saturday, including Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational champion Scott Houston (18-8.25 personal best) and 2016 Big South indoor and outdoor men's pole vault champion Austin Miller, formerly of High Point. Charlotte's Keon Howe could also be in the mix, as he has vaulted 17-1 this season.

Men's Shot Put – Saturday at 1 p.m.
Virginia's Filip Mihaljevic was the 2016 NCAA Division I outdoor men's shot put national champion, before going on to represent Croatia in the Rio Olympics. Teammate Oghenakpobo Efekoro placed 11th at last year's NCAA meet in the men's shot put.

Men's High Jump – Saturday at 1 p.m.
The men's high jump could feature an intriguing three-way battle between Duke's Colt Sessions (6-9.75 season best), Virginia Tech's William Kendall (6-9) and Charleston Southern's Frankie Thomas (6-8.75). Liberty's Zach Davis made if over 6-9.75 at last week's Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup but will be competing in the heptathlon this weekend.

Men's 400-Meter Dash – Saturday at 1:10 p.m.
Liberty's Stephen Racanelli has steadily improved this season and tops the yearly Big South men's 400 list at 49.00. On Saturday, he will face former Hampton standout Je'von Hutchinson (45.71 personal best) and North Carolina A&T's Justin Hamilton (46.66 personal best) among others.

Women's 400-Meter Dash – Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
The Big South's No. 1 (Liberty's Tanner Ealum) and No. 2-ranked (Charleston Southern's Danielle Burnett) women's 400-meter runners will go head-to-head two weeks before the conference meet. Charlotte's Kristen Williams placed third in the Conference USA women's outdoor 400 final in 2016.

Men's 500-Meter Dash – Saturday at 1:45 p.m.
This 2.5-lap event will see the Liberty trio of Ryan Davis, Blake Kohring and Spencer Jamison battle former St. Augustine's competitor Kevaughn Hewitt, the Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational runner-up.

Women's 500-Meter Dash – Saturday at 1:55 p.m.
Liberty's Mary Witmer, who has clocked 1:17 and 1:16 the first two times she has run 500 meters this season, is the top seed on Saturday.

Men's 800-Meter Run – Saturday at 2:05 p.m.
Liberty's 800-meter competitors will include Colin Schultz, coming off of a personal-best 1:51.25 effort at the Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup, and the 2016 Big South indoor (Michael Todd) and outdoor (Bradley Prentice) champions. Three athletes in the field have dipped under 1:50 in their careers, including Duke's Dylan Murphy (1:49.18) and Michal Filipczak (1:49.67) and Virginia's Logan Carrington (1:49.98).

Women's 800-Meter Run – Saturday at 2:15 p.m.
The Lady Flames' top 800-meter runners (Delaney McDowell, Tanner Ealum and Brooke Turner) will focus on other events on Saturday. But the field will still be a strong one, highlighted by Elon's Kimberly Johansen (4:45.34 mile last weekend) and Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational Champion Micah Brickhill of Virginia.

Women's Shot Put – Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Christine Bohan of Virginia leads the women's shot put field, as she is currently ranked No. 19 nationally with a mark of 53-3.75. East Carolina's Galissia Cause, the 2016 American Athletic Conference outdoor runner-up, owns a personal best of 51-9. Dasiana Larson of Liberty is chasing the ECAC standard of 44-3.5.

Women's High Jump – Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Liberty's Erin Zappia won the women's high jump at the Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup a week ago. This weekend, she will aim for the ECAC standard of 5-7 while competing against a field including East Carolina's Lauren Lubarski (5-8.75 personal best) and Charlotte's Elizabeth Olesen (5-8.5).

Men's 1,000-Meter Run – Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
East Carolina has a pair of strong entrants in the men's 1,000, including Stefano Migliorati (1:49.81 800 last weekend) and Pol Solanelles (2:26.93 in the 1,000 this season).

Women's 1,000-Meter Run – Saturday at 2:40 p.m.
Liberty's Delaney McDowell is the Big South leader in the 800 (2:10.31), while teammate Anna Van Wyk leads the way in the mile (4:53.88). On Saturday, they will meet in the middle at 1,000 meters. Other notable entrants include East Carolina alum Ericka Charles, who won this event at the Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational, and Virginia's 10K All-American Cleo Boyd.

Men's 200-Meter Dash – Saturday at 2:55 p.m.
North Carolina A&T's Christopher Belcher ranks No. 28 in the nation with a 200 time of 21.08 this season and also owns an outdoor best of 20.39. East Carolina's Hakeem Horton ran 21.52 to win at the VT Elite Meet a week ago. Most of Liberty's top sprinters will be aiming to meet the IC4A standard of 22.24. Freshman Jahquez Durham is the only Flame who has punched his IC4A ticket in this event to date, at 22.12 seconds.

Women's 200-Meter Dash – Saturday at 3:15 p.m.
The women's 200 will include a matchup between the defending MEAC (North Carolina A&T's India Brown) and Big South (Charleston Southern's Jasmine Pilgrim) champions in the event. Nicole Leonzo, one of Liberty's eight entrants in the event, owns the Lady Flames' top 200 time of 2017 at 25.38. The ECAC standard is 25.04.

Men's 3,000-Meter Run – Saturday at 3:40 p.m.
Liberty's Azaria Kirwa and Stanley Langat, who each posted IC4A qualifiers in the 5K at the Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational, will make their 3K season debuts Saturday afternoon. Virginia Tech alum Ryan Hagen will also compete after running 8:24.07 to win the event at the VT Elite Meet.

Women's 3,000-Meter Run – Saturday at 4 p.m.
Virginia's Cleo Boyd ran a 3K time of 9:18.20 last weekend, ranking her No. 20 nationally for the event. Wake Forest foes Ellie Abrahamson (Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational mile champion) and Kathryn Lazarchick (9:41.44 this season) are also featured. Liberty's Terrill Zentmeyer, who has clocked personal-best times in the mile (5:17.91) and indoor 5K (18:19.86) this season, will compete in her first-ever indoor 3K.

Women's 4 x 400 Relay – Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
Duke is a team to watch in the women's 4 x 400 relay, as the Blue Devils have clocked 3:42.77 this season.

Men's 4 x 400 Relay – Saturday at 4:40 p.m.
At press time, Liberty is the only team which has entered the men's 4 x 400 relay. The Flames' quartet of Ryan Davis, Jeff Jacobs, Michael Todd and Stephen Racanelli raced to victory at last week's Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup in a season-best and Big South-leading time of 3:17.25.