Zach Davis (left) won the decathlon while Kylie Polsgrove (right) took home the heptathlon title in meet-record fashion, Thursday at the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Liberty senior Zach Davis (decathlon) and sophomore Kylie Polsgrove (heptathlon) continued the Flames' rich tradition of success in multi-event competitions, winning their respective events on Thursday at the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Entering the final day of competition at Bagwell-Settle Track, the Flames and Lady Flames both top the team standings.
Led by Davis' second straight Big South decathlon title, the Flames racked up 20 points in the event. As a result, Liberty sits atop the men's team standings with 56 points through six events. The Flames are trailed by Winthrop (46) and Gardner-Webb (39).
The Lady Flames posted top-two finishes in four of Thursday's five events. Thus, Liberty has tallied more points (120) than the second (High Point, 68) and third-place (Campbell, 46) squads combined at this stage of the meet.
Women's Day Two Recap Polsgrove captured Liberty's seventh consecutive Big South heptathlon title and 13th crown in 17 years with a meet-record 5,166 points. The North Carolina native shattered the previous meet standard of 4,921 set by former teammate Erika Jackson a year ago.
Polsgrove won the heptathlon long jump at 18-3 and heaved the javelin a personal-best 109-7 on Thursday, giving her a dominating 289-point final margin of victory over runner-up Taryn DeLeon of Winthrop.
A little over an hour later, Polsgrove began the high jump competition. She and junior teammate Erin Zappia were two of the three high jumpers to clear 5-7.25 on the afternoon. Once the tiebreakers were applied, Zappia finished as the runner-up and Polsgrove took third place, becoming the first two Lady Flames to stand on the All-Big South podium at this meet since 2013.
Lady Flames also claimed two of the three All-Big South honors in the women's pole vault, courtesy of runner-up Jessie Glynn (11-11.75) and third-place Audrey Rabe (11-11.75). Mariel Finger cleared 11-5.75 for fourth place, giving Liberty 19 points in the event.
Karle was the Lady Flames' final runner-up, crossing the finish line second in the evening's final race, the women's steeplechase. She weathered the steamy conditions to post a personal-best time of 10:58.86, becoming Liberty's third sub-11:00 steeplechaser in program history and repeating her Big South runner-up performance from 2016. Teammate Kat Bouton added a seventh-place finish with a season-best 11:49.81 effort.
All three of Liberty's entrants scored points in the women's hammer, which is one of the Big South's strongest events. Dasiana Larson led the way in fourth place (183-3), followed by Catherine Oyarzun (fifth, season-best 179-10) and Holly Arey (sixth, 167-10). Arey is the only athlete who has scored points in all three women's throwing events (discus, hammer and javelin) during the first two days of the meet.
The Lady Flames qualified eight athletes to Friday's running event finals, led by the 400 trio of Olivia Behymer (No. 1 qualifier – 55.10), Tanner Ealum (55.41) and Nicole Leonzo (56.29).
Liberty advanced two runners in both the 800 (Brooke Turner – 2:16.01 and Delaney McDowell – 2:17.42) and 100 hurdles (Jaiden Mulder – season-best 14.43 and Katie Dodson – 14.83).
Meanwhile, Dana Mercer qualified for her first Big South 100 dash final by posting a time of 12.39 seconds into a significant headwind.
Men's Day Two Recap Davis scored 6,787 points to join Daniel Newell (2008-09) as the only Flames ever to win back-to-back Big South decathlon titles. However, the senior's victory was anything but easy.
Davis won both the discus (116-11) and javelin (184-0) to overtake High Point's Pablo Romero Gonzales. Davis then needed a season-best 1,500 time of 5:00.17 to hold off the Panthers' talented freshman by 31 points in the final standings.
Liberty's own talented freshman, Markus Ballengee, won the first of Thursday's five disciplines, the 110 hurdles, in 15.08 seconds. That sent him on his way to a third-place finish with 6,512 points.
Battling a sprained ankle, senior Zach Gilroy gutted out a fifth-place decathlon finish with 4,863 points. His Thursday performances included season-best distances in the discus (107-6) and javelin (145-6).
Stanley Langat added eight points to the Flames' score with his runner-up showing in the men's steeplechase. The freshman led for a good portion of the race before finishing eight seconds out of first at 9:31.59.
Four of the top five qualifiers to Friday's men's 110 hurdles final are Flames, paced by Jovaine Atkinson (14.15). He will be joined on the starting line by Ryan Davis (14.83), Samson Moore (15.30) and Blake Kohring (15.99).
Michael Todd (1:54.86), defending champion Bradley Prentice (1:55.42) and Andrew Crowell (1:56.11) all earned spots in the men's 800 final.
Both of the men's 400 dash heats were won by Flames, including two-time defending champion Stephen Racanelli (49.16) and Jahquez Durham (49.31).
Greg Edwards made it into the 100 final by running a time of 11.05 into a headwind.
Up Next The final day of the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships will begin Friday at 11 a.m. with the men's discus and men's pole vault.