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Smith's Javelin Victory Headlines Big South Day 1

May 10, 2017  Charleston, S.C.  RSS
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Brenna Smith won the Big South women's javelin title with a school-record mark of 158-7 on Wednesday.

Brenna Smith won the Big South women's javelin title with a school-record mark of 158-7 on Wednesday.

Liberty junior Brenna Smith won the women's javelin with a school-record toss of 158-7 on a hot, sunny opening day of the 2017 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Wednesday at Bagwell-Settle Track.

Smith's victory helped the two-time defending champion Lady Flames take the lead through four women's events. Liberty has totaled 55 points thus far, as compared with 36 for second-place Campbell and 26 for third-place High Point.

The Flames also own a slim lead after the first three men's events, as Azaria Kirwa's runner-up finish paced Liberty's 17-point haul in the 10K. Liberty has scored 28 points, putting the 10-time defending champions one point ahead of Campbell and three tallies in front of Winthrop.

Women's Day One Recap
Smith, who had placed third in the women's javelin in both 2015 and 2016, captured her first Big South title by nearly 30 feet on Wednesday. Her winning throw of 158-7, which came in round three, shattered Smith's previous personal best by 13 and a half feet. It also took down the program record of 152-9 which had been set by Christina Mitchell while winning the 2013 Big South women's javelin title at Liberty.

Smith, who added a 146-0 mark in round four for good measure, jumped all the way up to No. 3 in Big South Conference women's javelin history. The New Jersey native also climbed to No. 18 in the East Region, assuring herself a berth in the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet in two weeks.

Redshirt senior Nicole Bishop completed the Lady Flames' first-ever 1-2 finish in the Big South women's javelin, throwing 129-10 for second place in the event and her first All-Big South honor.

Holly Arey scored points in the Big South women's javelin for the third straight season, coming in eighth while matching her season best of 114-0.

The Lady Flames later punctuated their successful day by scoring 17 points in the night's final event, the women's 10K. Redshirt freshman Kammi Kurtz led the way, coming from way behind to overtake Winthrop's Olivia Paxton for a runner-up finish in her 10K debut. Kurtz's official time was 37:57.39.

Terrill Zentmeyer followed in fourth place in 38:13.25. Both of her career 10K races have now resulted in Big South fourth-place showings, after the Florida native earned the same placement in 2016.

Jessie Proehl closed out her collegiate career with her best-ever finish in a Big South final, crossing the line in fifth place with a 10K time of 38:36.73.

Competing in her first event of the day, Arey fouled her first two attempts in the women's discus before later recovering for a runner-up finish. The junior's 146-8 mark earned her first career outdoor All-Big South medal.

Redshirt senior Dana Mercer placed third in the women's long jump final, matching her placement from the 2017 Big South indoor long jump competition. She long jumped an outdoor personal-best 18-10.5 to move into a tie for eighth place in program history and become the Lady Flames' first top-three long jumper at this meet since 2014.

Classmate Janae Jones added a fourth-place long jump finish, landing at a personal-best 18-7.75 on two of her six attempts.

Sophomore Kylie Polsgrove will take a 169-point lead into day two of the heptathlon, after racking up 3,168 points during Wednesday's quartet of events. She was at her best in the field events, winning the heptathlon high jump (5-7.25) and adding a foot to her previous shot put best with a 35-0.25 mark.

Senior Mary Witmer clocked the fastest time among the trio of women's 400 hurdles heats, 1:00.29. Meanwhile, Polsgrove posted a 1:03.41 effort in her fifth event of the day, also punching her ticket to Friday's final.

The duo of Mercer (personal-best 24.84) and Tanner Ealum (24.97) qualified for the women's 200 dash final.

Men's Day One Recap
As a foreshadowing of things to come in the women's 10K, Liberty totaled 17 points in the men's 10K under the Bagwell-Settle Track lights. Sophomores Kirwa (30:48.62) and James Zentmeyer (31:42.76) placed second and third, respectively, while redshirt freshman Jack Tidball was sixth in 33:02.32.

Kirwa ran over two minutes faster than he did during the 2016 Big South men's 10K final, moving up from last season's seventh-place finish. Meanwhile, Zentmeyer earned his first-ever visit to the All-Big South podium.

Liberty netted 11 points during a deep men's long jump competition, paced by Darrel Jones' season-best 23-7.5 leap for fourth place. The junior was followed by Aklesso Agama (fifth, 23-5.25) and Brad Smalley (seventh, 23-3.5).

Freshman Andre Wright nearly added another point in the long jump, reaching a personal-best 23-1.25 to tie Campbell's Alize Graham for eighth place. However, Graham's second-longest mark was superior to Wright's, and the Liberty freshman officially ended up in the ninth spot.

Zach Davis (3,581) and Markus Ballengee (3,436) rank second and fourth, respectively, after Wednesday's five decathlon events.

Davis posted his best-ever shot put mark within a decathlon, 44-7.5, winning the event by eight and a half feet. The defending Big South decathlon champion also topped the field in the high jump with a 6-9.5 clearance.

Ballengee opened his day with a personal-best 11.39 clocking in the 100 dash. The freshman sits just 25 points out of third place entering Thursday's events.

The Flames fared well in Wednesday evening's running event prelims, as all four of Liberty's entrants moved on the 400 hurdles final and three of the four fastest 200 dash qualifiers were Flames.

Two-time Big South men's 400 hurdles champion Ryan Davis was the event's fastest qualifier at 54.16 seconds. He will be joined in Friday's final by teammates Michael Fairfax (season-best 54.60), Samson Moore (55.95) and Blake Kohring (56.98).

Stephen Racanelli (personal-best 21.31) was the top men's 200 qualifier, while Jahquez Durham (21.69) and Greg Edwards (season-best 21.76) also earned spots in the final.

Up Next
The Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships will resume Thursday at 9:30 a.m. with the heptathlon long jump.