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Liberty Sweeps Big South Track Athlete of Week Awards

March 8, 2018  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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(L-R): Tanner Ealum, Alejandro Perlaza Zapata, Markus Ballengee, Dasiana Larson

(L-R): Tanner Ealum, Alejandro Perlaza Zapata, Markus Ballengee, Dasiana Larson

For the second time this season, Liberty has swept the four Big South Conference Track & Field Athlete of the Week awards. This week's honorees include junior Alejandro Perlaza Zapata (Men's Track Athlete of the Week), sophomore Markus Ballengee (Men's Field Athlete of the Week), sophomore Tanner Ealum (Women's Track Athlete of the Week) and senior Dasiana Larson (Women's Field Athlete of the Week).

The four award winners were part of Liberty's spectacular weekend at the 2018 IC4A and ECAC Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships in Boston. The Lady Flames claimed the first ECAC team title in program history, while the Flames finished a close second to UConn in the IC4A standings. Liberty set program and Big South Conference records in seven different events during the three-day competition.

Larson's award is her third of 2018 and the fourth of her career, while Ealum's second Big South weekly honor of the season is the fifth of her career. Both Ballengee and Perlaza Zapata were recognized for the second time this season.

Perlaza Zapata was a part of two IC4A event victories on Sunday, both of which came in record-setting fashion. The native of Cali, Colombia, took home the IC4A 400 title in a time of 46.14 which set new Liberty, Big South and South American indoor records. He later joined Jahquez Durham, Michael Todd and Jeff Jacobs on the winning IC4A 4 x 400 relay quartet. Perlaza Zapata's sterling 45.4-second anchor leg split wrapped up the title and a new Liberty and Big South record of 3:09.88.

Ballengee captured the IC4A heptathlon championship with a score of 5,537 that improved his own Liberty and Big South records. Aided by a personal-best 16-6.75 pole vault clearance, the native of Moneta, Va., also broke the IC4A meet and Boston University Track & Tennis Center facility heptathlon records with his winning point total.

Ealum sprinted to victory in the ECAC 500 final in a time of 1:11.17 which not only eclipsed her own Liberty and Big South records but also ranks No. 1 in the NCAA and No. 4 in the world for 2018. Later on Sunday afternoon, Ealum, Ty'Asia Dansbury, Cortney Dowling and Olivia Behymer finished as the ECAC 4 x 400 relay runners-up. The Anchorage, Alaska native's 53.8-second anchor leg helped the Lady Flames' quartet take down the Liberty and Big South records with their overall time of 3:41.09.

Larson, who hails from Garner, Iowa, became the second Lady Flame ever to win an ECAC weight throw championship. The senior's winning heave measured 65-10.5.

Jovaine Atkinson will close out Liberty's indoor season this weekend, competing in the men's 60 hurdles at the 2018 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships at Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium in College Station, Texas. He will compete in the semifinals Friday at 7:55 p.m. Eastern, with the final set for Saturday at 6:10 p.m. Eastern.