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Liberty Track Ready for 123rd Penn Relays

April 26, 2017  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Freshman Tanner Ealum will keep busy this weekend at the Penn Relays, between the 4 x 200, 4 x 400 and distance medley relays.

Freshman Tanner Ealum will keep busy this weekend at the Penn Relays, between the 4 x 200, 4 x 400 and distance medley relays.

Schedule/Live Results

Video Streaming (USATF.TV)

Philadelphia Weather

The city of Philadelphia will be abuzz with activity this weekend, between the NFL Draft and the 123rd Penn Relays. The Liberty men's and women's track & field teams will be part of the excitement, taking part in the Penn Relays, Thursday through Saturday at Franklin Field.

The meet will begin with 9 a.m. events each morning, including Holly Arey in the women's discus on Thursday, Ryan Davis and Blake Kohring in the men's 400 hurdles on Friday and the freshman trio of Andre Wright (men's triple jump), Samuel Arter (men's javelin) and Alexander Hoffsmith (men's javelin) on Saturday.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
The entire meet will be video streamed on USATF.TV, which requires a RunnerSpace +PLUS subscription.

The NBC Sports Network will televise one hour of coverage (5:30-6:30 p.m.) on Friday and two and a half hours (12:30-3 p.m.) on Saturday. Their broadcast will also be streamed on NBC Sports Extra Live.

Live results will be available throughout the meet, including splits for most relay races.

Weather Report
The weather is expected to be uncharacteristically warm for this year's Penn Relays, with the high temperature forecasted between 80-85 degrees on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. There is only a slight chance of precipitation in the forecast during the meet.

About the Penn Relays
The 123rd running of the Penn Relays will feature high-level high school, college and professional track & field competition, highlighted by Saturday's USA vs. The World relays. Approximately 50,000 spectators are expected to attend Saturday's events, marking the largest crowd Liberty will compete in front of this season.

Arguably Liberty's most impressive achievement in meet history came in 2002, when Heather Sagan won the Olympic Development section of the women's mile in a program-record time of 4:37.53. The accomplishment earned Sagan the honor of women's collegiate individual event athlete of the meet.

During Liberty's first NCAA Division I season, 1989, the Flames won Penn Relays titles in the decathlon (Henry Elliott) and women's 100 hurdles (Delethea Quarles), while Quarles was also the heptathlon runner-up.

Speaking of the heptathlon, Danielle McNaney placed first in the event at the 2005 Penn Relays with a Liberty and Big South-record score of 5,504.

Liberty has never won a Penn Relays Championship of America title, but four of the Flames' current relay school records were set at the meet. These include the women's distance medley relay (11:30.56 in 2008), men's 4 x 200 relay (1:24.23 in 2001), men's 4 x mile relay (16:40.57 in 1998) and men's shuttle hurdles relay (58.75 in 1999).

Baton Battles
Liberty will compete in four different relay races this weekend, including the women's 4 x 200, 4 x 400, sprint medley and distance medley relays. Below are the Lady Flames' potential relay orders.

4 x 200 – Tanner Ealum, Nicole Leonzo, Olivia Behymer, Dana Mercer
4 x 400 – Nicole Leonzo, Mary Witmer, Tanner Ealum, Olivia Behymer
Sprint Medley – Dana Mercer, Nicole Leonzo, Olivia Behymer, Delaney McDowell
Distance Medley – Brooke Turner, Tanner Ealum, Delaney McDowell, Anna Van Wyk

The 4 x 400 program record of 3:41.00, which has stood since 2007, could be in jeopardy. The Lady Flames have already posted a time of 3:42.25 this season, and Ealum, Leonzo and Behymer all rank among the top nine 400-meter runners in program history.

Current assistant coach Rebekah Ricksecker led off for the Lady Flames' distance medley relay quartet, which set the program record of 11:30.56 at the 2008 Penn Relays. That mark could be challenged on Thursday, as Liberty has already set the indoor program record in the distance medley relay in 2017, with its 11:48.99 clocking at the ECAC meet. Two members of that record-setting squad (Turner and McDowell) will be joined by the 2017 Big South leaders in the 400 (Ealum) and 1,500 (Van Wyk).

Fan Favorite
Jovaine Atkinson will make his Penn Relays debut this weekend, competing in the men's 110 hurdles. A native of Spanish Town, Jamaica, Atkinson will race in front of a large and boisterous contingent of Jamaica fans, especially if he qualifies for Saturday afternoon's final. Atkinson will also see a number of competitors from his alma mater, Kingston College.

Atkinson has broken the Liberty men's 110 hurdles record twice this season, most recently with his 14.01 effort at the April 15 Gamecock Invitational. He currently ranks No. 32 nationally for the event, including third among freshmen.

Atkinson's opponents at the Penn Relays include the nation's No. 1 (Youngstown State's Chad Zallow – 13.37) and No. 2-ranked (Syracuse's Freddie Crittenden III – 13.42) 110 hurdlers.

Featured Event
Liberty will send five javelin throwers to the Penn Relays, including the men's trio of Denzel Pratt, Samuel Arter and Alexander Hoffsmith and Lady Flames Brenna Smith and Nicole Bishop.

Pratt (226-4), Arter (210-2) and Hoffsmith (202-8) currently rank 1-2-3 on the Big South men's javelin list, while Smith (145-0) and Bishop (138-9) are the top two women's javelin throwers in the conference this season.

Pratt will make his collegiate javelin debut at the Penn Relays, following back-to-back Penn Relays high school boys' javelin titles for St. Augustine's College in 2014 and 2015.

Hoffsmith came in 10th in the Penn Relays high school boys' javelin competition last season, during his senior year at Palmyra Area High School.

Smith will be competing close to home on Friday, as Franklin Field is located just 10 miles west of her hometown of Haddon Township, N.J.

Big South's Best
Two weeks before the 2017 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships take place, Liberty ranks No. 1 in the conference in the following events:

Men's 200 – Jahquez Durham (21.68)
Men's 400 – Stephen Racanelli (48.12)
Men's 110 Hurdles – Jovaine Atkinson (14.01)
Men's 400 Hurdles – Ryan Davis (52.02)
Men's 4 x 100 Relay – Ryan Davis, Stephen Racanelli, Greg Edwards, Jahquez Durham (41.08)
Men's 4 x 400 Relay – Jahquez Durham, Spencer Jamison, Michael Todd, Stephen Racanelli (3:12.55)
Men's High Jump – Zach Davis (6-9.75)
Men's Pole Vault – Carson Waters (16-10)
Men's Triple Jump – Darrel Jones (51-3)
Men's Javelin – Denzel Pratt (226-4)
Men's Decathlon – Zach Davis (6,898)

Women's 400 – Tanner Ealum (54.33)
Women's 1,500 – Anna Van Wyk (4:30.05)
Women's 5K – Anna Van Wyk (17:40.37)
Women's 4 x 400 Relay – Tanner Ealum, Delaney McDowell, Nicole Leonzo, Olivia Behymer (3:42.25)
Women's High Jump – Kylie Polsgrove (5-8)
Women's Pole Vault – Jessie Glynn (12-6.75)
Women's Shot Put – Dasiana Larson (46-1.5)
Women's Hammer – Dasiana Larson (196-3)
Women's Javelin – Brenna Smith (145-0)
Women's Heptathlon – Kylie Polsgrove (5,184)

Lexington Ledger
The 2017 NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet will be contested May 25-27 at the University of Kentucky Outdoor Track & Field Facility in Lexington, Ky.

At this stage of the 2017 outdoor season, the following Flames and Lady Flames are in contention for a berth in the meet, which will determine the qualifiers for the 2017 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Jovaine Atkinson (Men's 110 Hurdles)
Ryan Davis (Men's 400 Hurdles)
Darrel Jones (Men's Triple Jump)
Azaria Kirwa (Men's 5K & 10K)
Dasiana Larson (Women's Hammer)
Denzel Pratt (Men's Javelin)
Carson Waters (Men's Pole Vault)

On the Bubble
Samuel Arter (Men's Javelin)
Zach Davis (Men's High Jump)
Janae Jones (Women's Triple Jump)
Kylie Polsgrove (Women's High Jump)
Brenna Smith (Women's Javelin)
Michael Todd (Men's 800)
Mary Witmer (Women's 400 Hurdles)