Carson Waters celebrates his meet-record pole vault clearance of 17-0.75 on Saturday.
Event victories by Jessie Glynn (pole vault), Dasiana Larson (shot put) and Kylie Polsgrove (pentathlon) have the Liberty women's team sitting in first place after day one of the 2017 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships. Meanwhile, the men's squad is a close second behind Campbell after Carson Waters broke the meet record in the pole vault, Saturday at the JDL Fast Track.
The defending champion Lady Flames, seeking their 12th title in meet history, recorded at least one top-three performance in each of Saturday's six event finals. As a result, Liberty racked up 88 points on the day, more than doubling up its closest competitors. High Point currently ranks second with 43.5 points, with Campbell in third place at 42.
Waters' record-breaking 17-0.75 pole vault clearance contributed 10 of the 19-time defending champion Flames' 41.5 points on the men's side. Through five men's events, the top four teams are separated by only 10.5 points, including first-place Campbell (42), second-place Liberty (41.5), third-place High Point (36) and fourth-place Charleston Southern (31.5).
Women's Day 1 Finals Glynn (11-11.75) led a 1-2-3 Liberty podium sweep in the women's pole vault, followed by runner-up Audrey Rabe (11-7.75) and third-place Mariel Finger (11-3.75), as all three earned the first All-Big South recognitions of their career. It marked Glynn's first career Big South title and the Lady Flames' first championship in this event since Shelley Parker's victory in 2011.
Add in Lea Carter's sixth-place finish with a 10-4 clearance and Liberty scored 27 points in the women's pole vault. The Lady Flames had not scored that many points in the event at this meet since tallying 28 in 1999.
Larson became another first-time Big South champion, as her top shot put mark of 44-3.25 edged Charleston Southern's Alexus Foreman by 2.25 inches for first place. Larson joins former teammate Mychelle Cumings as the only two Lady Flames ever to win the Big South women's indoor shot put crown.
Teammate Holly Arey shattered her personal best by more than a foot, heaving the shot put 42-11.25 for third place in the event, ninth place in Liberty history and the team captain's first career All-Big South medal. Liberty's total of 16 team points in the women's shot put matches the 2012 squad for the Lady Flames' highest score ever in the event at this championship.
Like Glynn and Larson, Polsgrove stepped to the top step of the Big South podium for the first time, thanks to her personal-best score of 3,569. The sophomore added 97 points to her previous best and now ranks No. 8 in program history. Liberty has now claimed four straight Big South pentathlon titles and nine in the last 12 years.
Polsgrove opened her day with a personal-best (to be broken later in the afternoon) 9.04 clocking in the 60 hurdles, before matching her season-best high jump clearance of 5-5.75. She took the lead for good after adding more than two feet to her shot put best with a 32-3.25 mark. Polsgrove then held off Winthrop's Taryn DeLeon by clocking a season-best 800 time of 2:28.09.
All four Lady Flames entered in the 3K scored points, paced by redshirt freshman Anna Van Wyk in second place. The Minnesota native sped to a time of 9:48.88, but finished just 0.66 seconds behind Campbell's Joan Maritim at the end of the 15-lap race.
Liberty's other 3K scorers included Kammi Kurtz (sixth place, 10:22.39), Terrill Zentmeyer (seventh, 10:29.15) and Alyssa Karle (eighth, 10:39.15).
The Lady Flames' distance medley relay quartet of Hannah Scherlacher, Mary Witmer, Delaney McDowell and Kat Bouton took third place. Their time of 12:13.63 met the ECAC standard and ranks eighth in program history.
Dana Mercer earned All-Big South honors in the long jump for the second straight year, sailing out to a season-best and ECAC-qualifying 18-8.5 for third place. She was followed by teammates Ayanna Johnson (season-best 18-2.25) and Janae Jones (18-1.75) in fourth and fifth places, respectively.
Men's Day 1 Finals Waters' meet-record pole vault clearance of 17-0.75 makes the junior the fourth Flame ever to clear 17 feet indoors. The junior's first Big South title marked the Flames' 12th championship in this event in the meet's 20-year history.
Waters' day was not without a few moments of trepidation, however. With all other competitors already eliminated, Waters attempted his opening height of 16-4.75. It required a third attempt, but the Florida native made it safely over the bar. He then went on to set his meet record on a third attempt as well.
Teammates Luke Moffett and Zach Davis shared third place at 14-7.25, giving Liberty 21 team points in the men's pole vault. Davis' personal-best clearance earned the senior's ninth career All-Big South notation.
For the third straight year, the Flames placed second in the distance medley relay. The quartet of Luke Jelen, Jeff Jacobs, Andrew Crowell and Cameron Francis posted a time of 10:08.09, good for an IC4A qualifier and the No. 8 spot on Liberty's all-time list.
Azaria Kirwa ran to a third-place 3K finish in 8:18.78, with fellow Kenya native Stanley Langat following in the sixth position. Langat's time, a personal-best 8:25.22, punched his IC4A ticket.
Darrel Jones long jumped 22-5.25 for sixth place, while Brad Smalley's season-best 22-0.75 leap earned a share of the eighth spot.
Women's Day 1 Qualifying Freshman Tanner Ealum qualified for Sunday's finals in both the women's 200 and 400. Her 400 time of 55.30 was the fastest of the day by 1.48 seconds. It also broke the Liberty freshman record and moved the Alaska native up to No. 3 in program history.
Ealum's 200 clocking of 24.93 met the ECAC standard and ranks No. 7 on Liberty's all-time list.
Liberty got two runners through to the finals in both the 800 (Delaney McDowell and Brooke Turner) and the 60 hurdles (Katie Dodson and Polsgrove). Dodson's personal-best 8.81 effort punched her ECAC ticket and moves the freshman into sixth place all-time at Liberty. Polsgrove now ranks 10th all-time among the Lady Flames after running her second personal best of the day in the event, 8.87.
Mercer tied her personal best of 7.70 in the women's 60 prelims, dipping under the ECAC standard and moving on to the final.
Men's Day 1 Qualifying Liberty fared exceptionally well in the men's prelims on Saturday, putting all four of its entrants into the finals in the 200, 400, 800 and 60 hurdles.
Stephen Racanelli (22.15) and Greg Edwards (22.34) posted the two fastest times among the 200 dash heats, with Edwards picking up his first IC4A qualification of the season. They will be joined in the final by Jahquez Durham (22.58) and Ryan Davis (22.81).
The Flames qualified 1-2-3 in the 400, featuring Racanelli (49.68), Durham (49.93) and Spencer Jamison (50.30). Jacobs was Liberty's fourth finalist at 50.67 seconds.
Liberty's 800 finalists include Colin Schultz (1:54.55), Michael Todd (1:55.21), Bradley Prentice (season-best 1:55.79) and Andrew Crowell (1:55.98). Prentice's performance makes him the Flames' fourth IC4A qualifier in the event this season.
Freshman Jovaine Atkinson was the fastest qualifier in the 60 hurdles at 8.05 and will be joined on Sunday's starting line by Ryan Davis (season-best 8.31), Blake Kohring (season-best 8.49) and Markus Ballengee (8.54).
Ryan Davis qualified for a third running event final on the day, thanks to the redshirt junior's personal-best 6.95 effort in the 60 dash. He hit the IC4A qualifier and is tied for 10th in program history.
Heptathlon Day 1 Recap Liberty has three heptathletes in position to score points through Saturday's quartet of events, including Ballengee (third place, 2,546), Caleb Rider (seventh, 2,244) and Zach Gilroy (eighth 2,243).
Ballengee's day included a personal-best shot put mark of 35-6.75.
Up Next The 2017 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships will conclude on Sunday. The day's slate of events will begin at noon, with the heptathlon 60-meter hurdles, women's high jump and women's weight throw.