Michael Todd's 1:49.56 clocking in the 800-meter run on Friday broke a school record that had stood for 20 years.
On a Friday filled with impressive performances, Liberty sophomore Michael Todd provided the Flames' biggest highlight with a school-record 1:49.56 clocking for the men's 800. The opening day of the Virginia Challenge at Lannigan Field also featured a 51-3 triple jump for Darrel Jones, a 16-10 pole vault clearance by Carson Waters and an incredible opening day of the heptathlon for Kylie Polsgrove.
Waters became the latest Flame to punch his ticket to the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet, while Todd, Polsgrove (5-8 high jump within the heptathlon) and Zach Davis (6-9.75 high jump within the decathlon) all gave themselves a strong chance to join Waters on the trip to Lexington, Ky., next month.
Men's Day One Recap Todd's 800-meter personal best had stood at 1:51.11 before the Alaska native lowered it to 1:50.48 at last Saturday's Gamecock Invitational and then to the record-breaking 1:49.56 Friday evening in Charlottesville. That slipped under the program record of 1:49.60 which Chuck Lyngaas had owned for almost 20 years (since May 16, 1997) and also ranks No. 3 in Big South Conference history.
Todd won his heat, but finished just ninth overall in the event, speaking to the high quality of competition at the Virginia Challenge. Penn State's Isaiah Harris was Friday's men's 800 champion, clocking an NCAA-leading time of 1:45.12.
Todd's classmate Bradley Prentice also achieved a new 800 personal best on Friday. The reigning Big South outdoor men's 800 champion placed 17th with a time of 1:50.38 that ranks fourth all-time at Liberty and ninth on the Big South all-time list.
Waters successfully pole vaulted a season-best 16-10 on his second attempt, earning the runner-up spot in the event's invitational section. The junior will now return to the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet for the second consecutive season.
Jones had excelled at the 2016 Virginia Challenge, placing fifth in the men's triple jump invitational section with a wind-legal personal-best leap of 50-11. On Friday, Jones moved up a spot in the standings from last season, thanks to a wind-aided 51-3 effort, his best-ever mark under any conditions. Jones' series also included a 50-8.75 leap into a headwind on his sixth and final attempt.
Earlier in the day, teammate Jonny Saintil hopped, skipped and jumped his way to fifth place in the open section of the men's triple jump, reaching an outdoor personal-best 48-0.
Stephen Racanelli finished 12th in the men's 400 at 48.59 seconds, while Louis Paone shaved 14 seconds off of his steeplechase personal best. Paone's time of 9:23.63 earned a 22nd-place finish.
After Friday's five decathlon events, Liberty's competitors rank eighth (Davis, 3,697), 11th (Markus Ballengee, 3,585) and 16th (Zach Gilroy, 3,008).
Davis long jumped 22-10.75, which is the best mark by a Flame this season. The senior from New Jersey also topped all of the decathletes with his season-best 6-9.75 high jump clearance. Davis bookended his afternoon with season-best times in the 100 (11.66) and 400 (53.66).
Through five events, Ballengee is 363 points ahead of his pace from his decathlon debut, two weeks ago at the Liberty Collegiate Invitational. The freshman began his day with a personal-best 11.45 clocking for 100 meters before long jumping an outdoor personal-best 22-0.25. Ballengee added more than two feet to his shot put best with a 37-10.75 heave, made it over an outdoor personal-best 6-5 in the high jump and recorded a personal-best 400 time of 51.88.
Gilroy's best mark on the day was his lifetime-best time of 12.13 seconds for 100 meters.
Women's Day One Recap Polsgrove ranks fifth with 3,203 points after day one of the heptathlon, marking the sophomore's best-ever day one score by 96 tallies. She recorded personal-best performances in all four of Friday's disciplines, including the 100 hurdles (14.46), high jump (5-8), shot put (34-0.75) and 200 (25.47).
Polsgrove's high jump clearance marked her best effort at Liberty and equaled her 5-8 performance from her days at Avery County High School. She became the first Lady Flame ever to high jump 5-8 within a heptathlon and moved into a tie for ninth place on the Big South's all-time high jump chart.
Polsgrove then added a foot to her previous best in the shot put before climbing to No. 4 all-time among Liberty heptathletes with her 25.47 clocking for the 200.
Tanner Ealum's 400 time of 54.33 broke her own Liberty freshman record and placed sixth in the event. Teammate Olivia Behymer followed in 55.86 seconds, claiming 12th place.
Dana Mercer finished 22nd in the 100 dash with a personal-best time of 12.05. She then teamed up with Ealum, Behymer and Nicole Leonzo for seventh place in the 4 x 100 relay and a season-best 46.82 clocking.
After running a personal-best 800 time of 2:08.59 at the 2016 Virginia Challenge, sophomore Delaney McDowell lowered her 2017 season best to 2:08.76 on Friday, placing 19th. Freshman teammate Brooke Turner's personal-best 2:12.34 performance earned 41st place in the event and the No. 10 spot on Liberty's all-time list.
Janae Jones placed fifth in the open section of the women's triple jump with a wind-aided leap of 40-7.75. Meanwhile, Mariel Finger's 11-5 pole vault clearance was good for eighth place in the open section.
Jessie Proehl's 10K debut resulted in a time of 38:33.26 and a 21st-place finish. The first Lady Flame to run a 10K in 2017, Proehl ranks second in the Big South this season for the 25-lapper.
Up Next Alyssa Karle will compete in Saturday's first event at the Virginia Challenge, section 3 of the women's steeplechase, beginning at 9 a.m.