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Olympian Headlines 13 Liberty Track Newcomers

June 19, 2017  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Jhon Alejandro Perlaza Zapata ran the anchor leg for Colombia's men's 4 x 400 relay team at the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images South America)

Jhon Alejandro Perlaza Zapata ran the anchor leg for Colombia's men's 4 x 400 relay team at the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images South America)

Liberty Track & Field/Cross Country Head Coach Brant Tolsma has announced the addition of 13 student-athletes to his team for the 2017-18 season. The newcomers are headlined by Jhon Alejandro Perlaza Zapata, who represented Colombia in the men's 4 x 400 relay at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The other new Flames include men's athletes Jonathan Doss (sprints) and Paul Squires (distance) and women's athletes Hannah Andrews (jumps), Ty'Asia Dansbury (sprints), Cortney Dowling (sprints), Liliana Naomi Mojica Gualito (throws), Nickayla Hoyte (sprints/jumps), Chelsea Igberaese (throws), Mary Kate McElroy (distance), Rachel Milnes (pole vault), Lacy Staton (sprints) and Patria Vaimaona (throws).

"We are excited to welcome an incoming class that ranges from athletes who will need to progress to contribute at the conference level to athletes who appear ready to contribute at the national level, from athletes who grew up hoping to come to Liberty to athletes who only recently heard of Liberty, from athletes with homes a few miles from Liberty to athletes from distant international  homes," stated Tolsma. "We are confident that God has a special plan for each one and we look forward to our opportunity to contribute to their athletic, academic and spiritual growth. With the recent amazing upgrades in our facilities, we are expecting rapid progress toward becoming a major player on the national scene. This class promises to play a significant role in that progress. Our strong returning contingent along with these recruits bolster our belief that 2018 will see Liberty qualify more athletes to the NCAA track regionals and nationals than ever before."

The 13 newcomers will join previously announced signees Branson Rolle (men's hurdles), Noel Palmer (women's distance), Heidi Smith (women's distance) and Alexis Wilson (women's sprints) on Liberty's 2017-18 track & field roster.

Men's Newcomers
Jonathan Doss (Evington, Va.) – Doss, who graduated from Liberty Christian Academy (LCA), posted high school personal bests of 6.55 (55 dash), 11.05 (100 dash) and 22.54 (200 dash). He placed eighth in the 55 at the 2017 VHSL 4A indoor state meet and was also a valuable relay runner for the Bulldogs. Doss helped LCA place second in the 4 x 400 relay at the 2016 VHSL 4A outdoor championship and 10th in the sprint medley relay at the 2016 New Balance Outdoor Nationals.

Paul Squires (Annapolis, Md.) – Squires closed out his high school career in style, posting personal-best times in both the 1,600 (4:24.26) and 3,200 (9:28.51) at the 2017 Maryland 4A state meet to place sixth and third, respectively. The Broadneck High School graduate also took fourth place in the 1,600 and seventh in the 3,200 at the 2017 Maryland 4A indoor state championship.

Jhon Alejandro Perlaza Zapata (Cali, Colombia) – As mentioned previously, Zapata competed in the men's 4 x 400 relay at the 2016 Rio Olympics, anchoring Colombia to an 11th-place finish in a time of 3:01.84. He has displayed impressive range, as evidenced by his personal bests of 20.90 (200), 34.47 (indoor 300), 45.45 (400), 1:19.26 (indoor 600) and 1:52.10 (800). Most recently, Zapata finished as the men's 400 runner-up at the 2017 Colombian National Championships.

Women's Newcomers
Hannah Andrews (Gulfport, Fla.) – Andrews long jumped 18-8 and triple jumped 39-5.5 during her time at Boca Ciega High School. She finished sixth in both events at the 2017 Florida 3A state meet as a senior.

Ty'Asia Dansbury (Harrisburg, Pa.) – A graduate of Harrisburg High School, Dansbury notched times of 12.05 (100), 24.13 (200) and 55.10 (400) for the Cougars. She placed fourth in the Pennsylvania AAA state 200 final in both 2015 and 2017, while coming in fourth in the 400 final as a junior in 2016.

Cortney Dowling (Pierre, S.D.) – Dowling will have three years of eligibility remaining after transferring from Augustana University (S.D.). Her top marks came at T.F. Riggs High School, where Dowling won seven total South Dakota state titles between the 100, 200 and 400. She set state meet records in the 100 (11.97) and 200 (24.27) in 2016 and has also clocked 54.19 seconds for the 400 dash.

Liliana Naomi Mojica Gualito (Queretaro, Mexico) – Gualito already ranks No. 7 all-time in Mexico for the women's shot put, thanks to her 49-11 heave at the age of 17.

Nickayla Hoyte (Ashburn, Va.) – Hoyte recorded four top-four finishes at the 2017 VHSL 5A outdoor state meet for Broad Run High School, including third in the 100 and fourth in the 200, 4 x 100 relay and long jump. Her top marks include 12.02 (100), 25.03 (200) and 18-10 (long jump).

Chelsea Igberaese (Dacula, Ga.) – Igbaeraese captured back-to-back Georgia AAAAAA state discus titles in 2016 and 2017, while also placing as the 2017 shot put runner-up. The Dacula High School graduate, who also starred in volleyball, has thrown the shot put 42-4.5 and the discus 157-8. On Saturday, Igberaese placed fifth in the discus at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals with a 157-6 heave.

Mary Kate McElroy (Beverly, Ohio) – McElroy ran times of 5:14.55 (indoor 1,600), 11:20.66 (3,200) and 18:55.80 (cross country 5K) at Fort Frye High School. She came in fifth in the 1,600 at the 2015 Ohio indoor state meet and crossed the line 23rd in the 2016 Ohio Division III state cross country championship.

Rachel Milnes (Jonesboro, Ark.) – The valedictorian of her graduating class at Nettleton High School, Milnes has cleared 13-2 in the pole vault. She wrapped up her high school career by earning her fourth consecutive Arkansas 5A state pole vault title in 2017.

Lacy Staton (Lynchburg, Va.) – As a senior at Liberty Christian Academy, Staton finished third in both the VHSL 4A indoor 500 and outdoor 400. Her personal bests include 41.47 (indoor 300), 57.74 (400) and 1:18.28 (indoor 500).

Patria Vaimaona (Waimanalo, Hawaii) – Vaimaona comes to Liberty after spending the last two years at Iowa Western Community College. She placed fourth in the weight throw at the 2017 NJCAA Division I indoor meet before finishing third in the hammer and seventh in the discus at the 2017 NJCAA Division I outdoor championship. Vaimaona's top throws for the Reivers measured 43-3.25 (shot put), 162-3 (discus), 169-11 (hammer) and 58-2 (weight). As a senior at Kailua High School, Vaimaona captured the 2015 Hawaii state discus title with a 144-7 heave.

Updates to Previous Signees
Branson Rolle (Nassau, Bahamas) – Rolle has sped to a 110 hurdles time of 13.82 in 2017.

Noel Palmer (Lynchburg, Va.) – Palmer has lowered her personal-best times to 3:05.24 (1,000) and 5:04.24 (1,600) as a senior. She was the 2017 VHSL 4A indoor runner-up in both the 1,600 and 3,200.

Alexis Wilson (Chattanooga, Tenn.) – Wilson placed second in the girls' 100 final at the 2017 Tennessee A-AA state meet.