Azaria Kirwa led the Flames to dual triumphs over No. 13 Virginia and Norfolk State with a team-leading third-place finish at Saturday's UVA Duals.
The Liberty men's cross country team got its 2017 season off to a strong start, defeating No. 13 Virginia (27-28) and Norfolk State (15-40) at the UVA Duals, Saturday morning at Panorama Farms. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames posted a 20-43 victory over Norfolk State while falling to regionally ranked rivals Virginia (35-22) and James Madison (50-15).
Men's 4K Race Recap Neither Liberty nor Virginia was at full strength on the cool, damp morning, as the Flames only entered the minimum five runners and the Cavaliers sat out many of their top performers. However, the two partial squads produced a tight matchup which was not decided until Liberty's No. 5 runner, Colin Schultz, edged Virginia's No. 4 runner, Thomas Amabile, by less than a second at the finish line. That gave the Flames a one-point head-to-head victory.
Three of the Flames' five competitors were making their Liberty cross country debut on Saturday, but the team was paced by a familiar face. Coming off of a visit to the 2017 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, junior Azaria Kirwa placed third overall among the 18-runner men's field with a 4K time of 12:25.
Transfers Samuel Proctor (12:27) and Nick Doan (12:28) followed closely behind in fourth and fifth places, respectively. Proctor was the 2016 WAC cross country runner-up for Grand Canyon, while Doan began his collegiate career at Portland.
After being limited to one cross country race in 2016 due to injury, redshirt sophomore James Zentmeyer clocked a time of 12:30 for seventh place on Saturday.
A mid-distance standout on the track, Schultz made a successful collegiate cross country debut. The redshirt senior was clocked in the same time as Amabile (12:38) but was awarded eighth place, clinching the Flames' pair of dual triumphs.
Women's 4K Race Recap Conversely to the men's squad, the Lady Flames suited up 13 runners Saturday morning. The team's top six finishers, including a trio of freshmen, crossed the finish line within three seconds of one another.
On the heels of a breakout sophomore season, junior Kammi Kurtz led the Liberty pack with a 4K time of 15:54, placing 17th of women's 35 entrants.
The Lady Flames' next five finishers were all underclassmen, including sophomore Gabriella Delbo (18th place, 15:54), freshman Noel Palmer (19th, 15:54), sophomore Brooke Turner (20th, 15:55), freshman Lauren Hirneisen (21st, 15:55) and freshman Mary Kate McElroy (22nd, 15:57).
The most veteran member of this year's team, redshirt senior Alyssa Karle closed out Liberty's top seven by clocking a time of 16:07 for 23rd place.
Up Next The Flames will host the Liberty Big South Preview on Sept. 16, marking the team's first home meet since 2008. The men's 8K will begin at 9 a.m., with the women's 5K to follow at 9:45. The races will be the first events contested on the new cross country course located adjacent to the Liberty Indoor Track Complex.