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Liberty Sweeps Big South Track Athlete of Week Honors

January 31, 2018  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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(L-R): Kylie Polsgrove, Markus Ballengee, Delaney McDowell, Alejandro Perlaza Zapata

(L-R): Kylie Polsgrove, Markus Ballengee, Delaney McDowell, Alejandro Perlaza Zapata

After a weekend full of impressive performances at the Liberty Kickoff, Liberty athletes swept the Big South Conference's four weekly indoor track & field honors on Wednesday. The Flames' honorees included junior Alejandro Perlaza Zapata (Men's Track Athlete of the Week), sophomore Markus Ballengee (Men's Field Athlete of the Week), junior Delaney McDowell (Women's Track Athlete of the Week) and junior Kylie Polsgrove (Women's Field Athlete of the Week).

McDowell and Polsgrove are now two-time Big South Athletes of the Week for their careers, while Ballengee and Perlaza Zapata were honored for the first time. McDowell's award comes two days after younger brother Keegan McDowell was named Big South Men's Basketball Freshman of the Week.

Olympian Perlaza Zapata more than lived up to the anticipation for his collegiate debut, winning the men's 800 (meet-record 1:52.40) and anchoring the Flames to a come-from-behind victory in the 4 x 400 relay (program-record 3:12.95).

The Colombia native qualified for the IC4A meet in both events and moved to No. 1 on the 2018 Big South performance list in each. He now ranks No. 5 all-time at Liberty for the 800, while his 45.89 anchor split in the 4 x 400 enabled the Flames to overtake Hampton for the victory.

Ballengee won the heptathlon with 5,523 points, shattering the Liberty, Big South, facility and meet records in the process. His score was the eighth-best in the nation for the weekend and currently ranks No. 14 in the NCAA for 2018.

Ballengee set new personal-best marks in six of seven events, including the 60 (7.23), shot put (41-5.75), high jump (6-6.25), 60 hurdles (8.28), pole vault (15-9) and 1,000 (2:45.26). His pole vault clearance met the IC4A standard, while his 60 hurdles time sits seventh in program history. The native of Moneta, Va., who entered the weekend with a personal-best score of 5,152 points, bettered the Liberty and Big South records of 5,383 which had been set by All-American Brandon Hoskins in 2008.

McDowell placed fifth in the women's 1,000 with a time of 2:49.95, breaking the Liberty and Big South records of 2:51.47 set by teammate Anna Van Wyk at the 2017 Liberty Elite Invitational. The Buckeye State native, who sliced more than five seconds off of her previous best in the five-lap event, qualified for the ECAC meet with the ninth-fastest performance in the nation for the weekend.

Later on, McDowell punched her ECAC ticket in a second event, running the second leg of the Lady Flames' 4 x 400 relay. Liberty finished as the relay runner-up in 3:45.35, as McDowell, Kimone Green, Olivia Behymer and Tanner Ealum became the fifth-fastest quartet in program history.

Polsgrove captured the Liberty Kickoff pentathlon title for the second straight season, as her personal-best score of 3,670 won the event by 141 points and bettered her previous best by 101 tallies. The North Carolina native qualified for the ECAC meet and moved into fifth place all-time on both the Liberty and Big South pentathlon charts.

Polsgrove recorded season-best marks in the 60 hurdles (8.99) and high jump (5-5.75) and indoor personal-best performances in the shot put (33-10) and 800 (2:25.29). She currently ranks No. 1 in the Big South for the pentathlon this season, while also ranking among the conference's top five for the 800, 60 hurdles, long jump and high jump.

Liberty will remain at home this weekend, playing host to the fourth annual Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational. The meet will feature a field of 17 NCAA Division I programs, Friday and Saturday at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex.