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Host Flames Win 10 Events on Sunny Saturday

April 8, 2017  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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The sun shone brightly on the host team, both literally and figuratively, Saturday at the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex. The host Flames and Lady Flames combined to win 10 event titles on an action-packed final day of the Liberty Collegiate Invitational.

The warm, sunny conditions yielded numerous impressive performances, including a facility-record 10:35.26 women's steeplechase clocking by Leah Hanle of Mount Olive.

Women's Day Two Recap
The Lady Flames accounted for seven event titles on the day, including Dasiana Larson's second victory of the weekend. After placing first in Friday's women's shot put, the Big South Women's Outdoor Field Athlete of the Week took top honors in the hammer at 189-2.

The first event ever contested at the new throwing cage near the Liberty Indoor Track Complex, the women's hammer also saw Catherine Oyarzun finish fifth at 176-11 and Holly Arey place sixth with a personal-best 168-4 effort.

Kylie Polsgrove also carried over her success from Friday into Saturday, producing a dominating victory in the heptathlon. The sophomore finished with 4,995 points to win the event by 551 tallies, add 120 points to her previous best and climb into fifth place all-time at Liberty.

Polsgrove opened her morning with her best-ever long jump within a heptathlon (17-6). She later won the heptathlon 800 in a personal-best 2:24.50, leaving her a tantalizing 0.32 seconds away from joining the 5,000-point club.

Fellow sophomore Nicole Leonzo sped to a personal-best 400 time of 54.97 seconds for victory. She becomes the sixth Lady Flame ever to run a sub-55.00 400, including the second (also Tanner Ealum) this season. Maggie McDermott followed in sixth place with a personal-best 58.44 clocking.

Mary Witmer's season-best 400 hurdles time of 1:01.34 won the event, putting her four seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.

Janae Jones won the triple jump by a yard, thanks to her season-best 40-2.75 leap. Witmer added a fourth-place finish at 35-1.

For the second straight week, Erin Zappia took home a high jump victory. She made it over 5-5 on Saturday, defeating Winthrop's Taryn DeLeon on misses.

Brenna Smith was the Lady Flames' final event champion on the day, courtesy of her 141-2 mark in the javelin. Nicole Bishop threw 116-5 for the sixth spot.

Mariel Finger (second place, 11-11.75) and Audrey Rabe (third, 11-5.75) were the top two collegiate finishers in the women's pole vault Saturday morning.

Freshman Brooke Turner grabbed a pair of runner-up finishes, beginning with a personal-best 1,500 time of 4:41.47 and adding a collegiate personal-best 2:14.90 effort in the 800. Terrill Zentmeyer (sixth in the 1,500, 4:50.12) and Hannah Scherlacher (fourth in the 800, 2:15.72) added depth in the middle-distance events.

Another freshman who enjoyed a successful Saturday was Ayanna Johnson. She long jumped a personal-best 18-9.25 for second place, tying redshirt senior teammate Dana Mercer for 10th place in program history. Mercer also competed in the long jump on Saturday, reaching a season-best 18-4.25 for fourth place.

Johnson clocked a season-best 100 time of 12.47 to place sixth, but Mercer (third place, 12.28) had the upper hand on her in that event.

Katie Dodson continued the procession of Liberty freshmen who came in second on Saturday with her 100 hurdles time of 14.41 seconds. Classmate Jaiden Mulder lowered her season best to 14.95 for the sixth spot.

In the 5K, the Lady Flames finished third (Jessie Proehl, 18:28.14), fourth (Lindsey Bray, outdoor personal-best 18:40.10) and sixth (Kammi Kurtz, 18:51.27). Meanwhile, Kaitlyn Hutchins placed sixth in the steeplechase at 12:17.95.

Men's Day Two Recap
The final field event to wrap up on Saturday, the men's javelin, saw Flames sweep the top four positions. Denzel Pratt posted his second javelin victory of 2017 at 210-11, with Sam Arter following in second at 206-5.

Freshman Alexander Hoffsmith added 10.5 feet to his personal best on Saturday with a mark of 202-8 which placed third in the event and ranks 10th on Liberty's all-time list. Classmate Caleb Hart threw a personal-best 194-0 to complete the Flames' 1-2-3-4 sweep. Add in Zach Davis' 198-9 javelin heave during Saturday's decathlon competition and it was quite an impressive day of javelin throwing for Liberty.

Around the same time the javelin was taking place, Liberty displayed its depth in the 5K by claiming four of the first five places. Freshman Stanley Langat led the way with a personal-best time of 14:33.51 in his outdoor 5K debut. He was trailed by James Zentmeyer (second, 15:21.52), Jack Tidball (third, 15:37.21) and Benjamin Klemmeck (fifth, personal-best 15:41.58).

Jovaine Atkinson recorded his third 110 hurdles victory of the season in 14.39 seconds. Ryan Davis (season-best 14.72) and Samson Moore (14.98) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Davis later produced a second-place showing in the 400 hurdles at 53.01, with Michael Fairfax following in sixth (season-best 55.31).

Darrel Jones likely punched his ticket to the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round with his season-best 50-9.5 triple jump effort. The Empire State native finished second overall, including first among collegiate entrants. Aklesso Agama (fourth place, 48-2.75 in season triple jump debut) and Jonny Saintil (fifth, 46-11.5) added top-five triple jump finishes.

Big South Men's Outdoor Field Athlete of the Week Carson Waters has still only been defeated by one collegiate opponent in four pole vault competitions this outdoor season. He made it over 16-4.75 on Saturday, placing second overall but first among collegiate entrants.

Freshman teammates Ryan McCann (tie for fourth place, 15-5) and Reilly Stroot (sixth, 14-11) each achieved new personal bests in the pole vault.

Decathletes Zach Davis and Markus Ballengee were not so fortunate in the pole vault, as both Flames failed to clear their opening height. Nevertheless, they still ended up placing second (Davis, 5,819) and third (Ballengee, 5,674) overall in the two-day competition.

Davis' Saturday saw the senior clock a personal-best 110 hurdles time of 15.75 and win both the decathlon discus (122-2) and javelin (season-best 198-9).

Ballengee led all decathletes with his 15.01 effort in the 110 hurdles, hurled the discus a personal-best 112-5 and placed second to Davis in the decathlon javelin at 148-3.

The men's mid-distance events both saw Flames post top-three finishes in personal-best times. Andrew Crowell sliced 6.5 seconds off of his 1,500 best, crossing the line in 3:58.15 for second place behind Liberty alum Isaac Wendland (3:57.88).

Luke Jelen improved his 800 best to 1:54.45 to claim third place. That event was won by Liberty's Colin Schultz, who is redshirting this season, in a personal-best 1:51.16.  

All three men's sprints produced the best time by a Flame this season. Freshman Jahquez Durham accomplished that feat in both the 200 (21.68) and 400 (48.51), while placing second in each event.

Brad Smalley's personal-best 100 time of 10.95 seconds was good for fourth place on the day. He also grabbed third place in the long jump with a season-best distance of 22-9.

Flames Anthony Colangelo (6-4.25) and Jacob Burke (6-2.25) finished second and fifth, respectively, in the men's high jump.

Up Next
Next weekend, Liberty will get its first look at South Carolina's brand-new Sheila & Morris Cregger Track, which will play host to the 2017 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The one-day Gamecock Invitational will take place Saturday, with the day's first event scheduled for a 9 a.m. start.