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Liberty XC Bound for Paul Short Run

September 27, 2017  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Pennsylvania natives Lauren Hirneisen (left) and Gabriella Delbo (right) will get to race in their home state during Friday’s Paul Short Run.

Pennsylvania natives Lauren Hirneisen (left) and Gabriella Delbo (right) will get to race in their home state during Friday's Paul Short Run.

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Paul Short Information

Bethlehem Weather

The Liberty men's and women's cross country teams will face their stiffest competition thus far in 2017 on Friday. The Flames and Lady Flames will travel to Bethlehem, Pa., for the 44th Paul Short Run, contested at Lehigh's Goodman Campus.

Liberty's day will begin with the men's gold 8K race at 11 a.m. The Lady Flames are entered in the women's brown 6K race, set for a 1 p.m. start.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results will be available on Friday.

Weather Report
Friday's forecast features a welcome break from the recent hot weather. The temperature is only supposed to reach 70 degrees in Bethlehem, with a slight chance of a rain shower.

Looking Back
Liberty is racing at the Paul Short Run for the first time since 2010. That year, Sam Chelanga won his second Paul Short Run title in three years, while Jennifer Klugh set a then Liberty women's 6K record at 20:58. The Flames (eighth place) and Lady Flames (13th place) both recorded their best team finishes in meet history.

Chelanga, who will be inducted into the Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame Friday evening, was also the Paul Short Run men's champion in 2008, with a still-standing 8K course record time of 23:05. Liberty has won the men's individual championship three times overall, as Josh McDougal was victorious as a freshman in 2004.

Current assistant coach Rebekah Ricksecker raced at the Paul Short Run during her senior season in 2008. She paced the Lady Flames with a 69th-place overall finish and a 6K time of 21:50.

Scouting the Competition
The Liberty men's squad, currently ranked No. 10 in the Southeast Region, is one of 20 regionally ranked teams from six different regions set to compete in Friday's men's gold 8K race.

Georgetown, which is ranked No. 1 in the Mid-Atlantic Region and No. 17 nationally, leads the way. Other men's squads to watch include Navy (No. 2 Mid-Atlantic), Cornell (No. 4 Northeast), Penn (No. 4 Mid-Atlantic) and Georgia Tech (No. 5 South).

Meanwhile, the Lady Flames are part of a 43-team field in the women's brown 6K race, comprised of NCAA Division I, II and III squads.

Who Was Paul Short?
Paul Short, a 1934 graduate of Lehigh, was a long-time business manager and assistant director of athletics at the school. The first Paul Short Run took place in 1969, when seven men's teams competed two years after Short's death. Women raced for the first time in 1981, when six teams participated.

Heading Home
Six Liberty runners and coaches will be within three hours of their respective hometowns on Friday. These include Lady Flames Gabriella Delbo (Elysburg, Pa.), Lauren Hirneisen (Greencastle, Pa.) and Kelly Shaffer (Ringoes, N.J.), Flame Louis Paone (Marmora, N.J.), assistant coach Rebekah Ricksecker (Laurel, Del.) and head coach Brant Tolsma (North Haledon, N.J.).

Shaffer, who is slated to make her sophomore season debut for the Lady Flames on Friday, grew up about 40 miles away from the Goodman Campus.

Liberty Men's Outlook
The Liberty men's squad has run well as a pack during each of this season's first two meets. The Flames captured five of the top eight places at the UVA Duals (Sept. 2) and nine of the top 11 positions at the Liberty Big South Preview (Sept. 16).

Junior Azaria Kirwa won the Liberty Big South Preview men's 8K title for the first individual championship of his collegiate cross country career and the first by a Flame since Caleb Edmonds on Sept. 21, 2013. His effort helped the Liberty men capture their first team title since Oct. 17, 2015.

Kirwa was followed across the finish line in rapid succession by teammates Samuel Proctor (third place), James Zentmeyer (fourth), Augostine Lisoreng (fifth), Felix Kandie (sixth), Nick Doan (seventh), Louis Paone (eighth), Benjamin Klemmeck (10th) and Colin Schultz (11th).

Liberty Women's Outlook
Led by freshman Noel Palmer's runner-up finish, the Lady Flames finished second in the women's team standings at the Liberty Big South Preview on Sept. 16.

Palmer (18:46.7) was one of four Lady Flames to break 20 minutes on the challenging 5K course, along with sophomore Brooke Turner (seventh place, 19:42.9), junior Kammi Kurtz (eighth, 19:44.9) and redshirt senior Alyssa Karle (11th, 19:53.0).

Liberty will take a youthful team to Bethlehem this weekend, including three freshmen (Palmer, Lauren Hirneisen and Mary Kate McElroy), five sophomores (Turner, Victoria Clinton, Gabriella Delbo, Torree Scull and Kelly Shaffer), one junior (Kurtz) and one senior (Karle).

Next Up
After a weekend off from competition, Liberty will be challenged once again on Oct. 14, as the Flames and Lady Flames race against some of the nation's top teams at Pre-Nationals in Louisville, Ky.

The meet will be held at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park, site of the 2017 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. The day's first of four races begins at 10 a.m.