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Atkinson, Ealum, Zappia Win VertKlasse Events

April 1, 2017  High Point, N.C.  RSS
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Jovaine Atkinson won the VertKlasse Meeting men's 110 hurdles title with a school-record time of 14.12 seconds. (Photo by Perrone Ford)

Jovaine Atkinson won the VertKlasse Meeting men's 110 hurdles title with a school-record time of 14.12 seconds. (Photo by Perrone Ford)

Liberty's Saturday event champions at the VertKlasse Meeting went from A (Jovaine Atkinson – men's 110 hurdles) to Z (Erin Zappia – women's high jump) and also included an E (Tanner Ealum – women's 400). Atkinson also utilized the gusty winds at sun-drenched Vert Stadium to set a new program record for the 110 hurdles at 14.12.

Women's Day Two Recap
Ealum clocked a personal-best time of 54.43 to win the women's 400 title by a half-second over reigning Patriot League indoor 400 champion Drew Davis of Lafayette. The mark catapults the Alaska native into third place in program history and a tie for eighth place in Big South Conference annals. It also shatters Ealum's own Liberty freshman record of 55.35, set last Friday at the FSU Relays.

Junior teammate Olivia Behymer added a third-place 400 finish with her personal-best 55.04 effort. Behymer improved upon her previous best of 55.42, which had been achieved at the 2016 VertKlasse Meeting.

Later in the afternoon, both Ealum (sixth place, 24.72) and Behymer (11th, 25.16) recorded personal-best marks in the 200 dash as well.

Zappia won the women's high jump with a season-best 5-5.75 clearance. She made it over 5-5.75 on her second attempt to edge Campbell's Shenelle McKay for top honors in a battle between the last two Big South women's indoor high jump champions. Sophomore Kylie Polsgrove finished fourth at a season-best 5-3.75.

Junior Dasiana Larson earned her second runner-up finish in as many days, after taking second place in Friday's shot put competition. Saturday morning, the Iowa native heaved the hammer 195-6, adding seven feet to her previous best and punching her ticket to the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet for the second straight year. Larson, who topped all collegiate entrants in the event, now ranks No. 6 in Big South Conference history.

At the 2016 VertKlasse Meeting, the women's discus competition ran late and the Liberty team bus departed Vert Stadium before Holly Arey could take her final two throws. One year later, the women's discus was again the meet's final event to wrap up, but Arey stayed put for all six attempts and took full advantage of the opportunity.

The junior team captain's next-to-last discus throw measured 156-4, adding four and a half feet to her personal best and catapulting her from fourth to second place in Saturday's competition. Arey's late-round effort enabled her to defeat defending Big South women's discus champion Makenzi Holmes-DiGiovine of host High Point.

Catherine Oyarzun also performed well in both the hammer (sixth place, season-best 177-8) and discus (12th, personal-best 133-0).

Jessie Glynn pole vaulted 12-1.5, tying for sixth place in Section A of the event, while Mariel Finger shared 11th place at 11-7.75.

Klerianne Etanislao's season-best 400 hurdles time of 1:03.00 was good for eighth place. Teammate Mary Witmer followed in 11th place at 1:03.99.

Freshman Katie Dodson crossed the line ninth in the women's 100 hurdles with a time of 14.46.

Men's Day Two Recap
Liberty performed well in the men's hurdles events on Saturday claiming three of the top seven places in the 110 hurdles and two of the top nine positions in the 400 hurdles.

Atkinson led the way with his 110 hurdles victory. The redshirt freshman's wind-aided 14.12 effort eclipsed the school record of 14.20, which had been set by Greg Benhase on May 12, 1998. The mark would have also put Atkinson in good position to qualify for the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet, but the tailwind (4.2 m/s) was stronger than the NCAA's allowable 4.0 m/s.

Ryan Davis added a sixth-place finish in a season-best 14.75 seconds, while Markus Ballengee's personal-best time of 14.76 placed seventh.

About an hour and a half earlier, Davis had finished fourth in the men's 400 hurdles in 53.40 seconds. Redshirt freshman Samson Moore clocked a season-best 400 hurdles time of 54.77, winning the morning participation sections and placing ninth overall on the day.

Carson Waters continued his strong junior season in the pole vault, sailing over 16-5.5 on Saturday. That tied him for third place in the competition and ranked first among collegiate entrants.

Rounding out the men's field events, Anthony Colangelo shared fifth place in Section A of the men's high jump with a season-best 6-4.25 clearance. Meanwhile, Jonny Saintil triple jumped an outdoor personal-best 47-6.25 for seventh place.

Senior Stephen Racanelli (fifth place, 49.01) and freshman Jahquez Durham (10th, 49.50) each recorded top 10 finishes in the men's 400. Liberty sprinters now rank 1-2-3 on the 2017 Big South men's 400 list, including Spencer Jamison (48.61 season best), Racanelli (48.82 season best) and Durham (49.50 season best).

Racanelli went on to take seventh place in the men's 200 with a Big South-leading time of 21.90 seconds.

Up Next
The Flames and Lady Flames will return to Lynchburg for their first home meet of the 2017 outdoor season, the Liberty Collegiate Invitational. The two-day event will begin Friday at 1 p.m., with the decathlon 100-meter dash. Saturday's slate of events will commence with the heptathlon long jump at 10:30 a.m.