Jovaine Atkinson broke the Liberty men's 60 hurdles record and equaled the Big South Conference standard with his 7.75 clocking on Friday.
Liberty redshirt sophomore Jovaine Atkinson got the Flames' 2018 indoor track & field season off to a flying start at the Keydet Invitational on Friday. His 7.75 clocking in the men's 60 hurdles prelims shattered his own school record, tied the Big South Conference record and ranks No. 5 nationally this season.
The Jamaican's standout performance highlighted a successful day for Liberty, which saw the Flames total four ECAC qualifiers, two IC4A qualifiers, three new Big South leaders and 10 top-five finishes during the second meet ever contested at VMI's Corps Physical Training Facility.
Men's Day One Recap Atkinson enjoyed a strong 2017 indoor track & field season, lowering the Liberty 60 hurdles record to 7.94 seconds and winning the Big South title in the event. He took a big step forward in his very first race of 2018 on Friday, slicing 0.19 seconds off of his mark and equaling the Big South record of UNC Asheville's Milan Ristic from the 2013 season.
First meet of the season for @libertytrackandfield and the #MidnightAssassin is off to a great start! Sophomore Jovaine Atkinson ran 7.75 in the prelims and 7.78 in the semis! Currently ranked 5th in the #NCAAD1 #TrainHardWinEasy @libertyflames A post shared by Shawn Venable (@shawn_venable) on Jan 19, 2018 at 1:48pm PST
First meet of the season for @libertytrackandfield and the #MidnightAssassin is off to a great start! Sophomore Jovaine Atkinson ran 7.75 in the prelims and 7.78 in the semis! Currently ranked 5th in the #NCAAD1 #TrainHardWinEasy @libertyflames
A post shared by Shawn Venable (@shawn_venable) on Jan 19, 2018 at 1:48pm PST
Atkinson now sits just one-tenth of a second behind NCAA national leader Chad Zallow of Youngstown State, and his 7.75 effort would have qualified for the 2017 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Atkinson validated his performance by posting a semifinal time of 7.78 seconds just one hour later. That effort makes him the No. 1 seed for Saturday's men's 60 hurdles final. He was joined in the semifinals by freshman teammate Branson Rolle, who placed 13th in 8.47 seconds following an 8.44 effort in the prelims.
Senior Darrel Jones was the Flames' other IC4A qualifier. He reached 49-3.75 on his sixth and final triple jump attempt to place third in the event and climb atop of the 2018 Big South performance list.
Junior Bradley Prentice won his heat of the men's 1,000 and finished second overall with a 2:28.87 clocking. The effort improved his personal best by four seconds and ranks No. 9 in program history.
Jahquez Durham took his men's 500 heat in 1:05.78, placing fifth overall. Teammate Jeff Jacobs followed in the eighth spot at 1:06.40.
Greg Edwards reached the men's 60 semifinals with a time of 7.03. He then ended up 22nd after running 7.09 in the semis.
Women's Day One Recap The Lady Flames displayed their depth in the throwing events, with seniors claiming three of the top eight places in Friday's women's weight throw competition. Dasiana Larson led the way in fourth, thanks to an ECAC-qualifying and Big South-leading throw of 60-4.
Catherine Oyarzun entered the season with a personal best of 52-4.75 before putting all six of her throws past that line on Friday. Her second round heave measured 56-10, punching her ECAC ticket and moving her into third place on Liberty's all-time list.
Holly Arey added an eighth-place finish with her 53-4.5 toss.
Liberty was also strong in the women's 500, placing 4-5-6 in the 2.5-lap event. Sophomore transfer Cortney Dowling (1:15.96, No. 3 all-time at Liberty) and classmate Tanner Ealum (1:16.04, No. 4 all-time at Liberty) both hit the ECAC standard. Senior Olivia Behymer won her heat and came in sixth overall at 1:16.71, moving up to No. 7 in program history.
Freshman Rachel Milnes made a successful collegiate debut, pole vaulting 11-9.75 for third in the event and a share of eighth place in Liberty annals. Jessie Glynn cleared the same height and was awarded fourth place on misses.
Similarly, Lady Flames Kylie Polsgrove and Erin Zappia both made it over the same height (5-5) in the high jump. Polsgrove shared second place, while defending Big South champion Zappia came in fourth.
Polsgrove and redshirt freshman teammate Jaiden Mulder tied for 17th place in the women's 60 hurdles semis with matching times of 9.04.
Freshman Alexis Wilson's first collegiate 60 dash resulted in a time of 7.78 seconds. That moved her into the semifinal round, where she ended up 17th at 7.80.
Up Next Keydet Invitational action will resume Saturday at 10 a.m. with the men's mile, men's long jump and men's shot put kicking off the final day of competition.