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Liberty Track Set for Team-Scored FSU Relays

March 21, 2018  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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All-American hurdler Jovaine Atkinson will make his 2018 outdoor debut at Friday's FSU Relays. (Photo by Perrone Ford)

All-American hurdler Jovaine Atkinson will make his 2018 outdoor debut at Friday's FSU Relays. (Photo by Perrone Ford)

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Tallahassee Weather

The Liberty men's and women's outdoor track & field teams will close out spring break week with their first team-scored competition of the 2018 season, Friday's 39th FSU Relays. The one-day meet, which will pit the Flames and Lady Flames against Auburn, Dartmouth, Florida, host Florida State, Georgia Tech and Southern Miss, will take place at Mike Long Track in Tallahassee, Fla.

Ten and a half hours of competition will begin with the men's hammer at 9 a.m. The men's 110 hurdles is the first running event on the docket, set for a 1:30 p.m. start.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results, featuring live field event updates, will be available throughout the FSU Relays, courtesy of PrimeTime Timing.

Weather Report
Friday should be a beautiful day for track & field in Tallahassee, with abundant sunshine and a high temperature in the low 70s.

Scouting the Competition
Liberty will be part of a small but high-quality field on Friday, including two SEC squads (Auburn and Florida) and two ACC entrants (Florida State and Georgia Tech).

During the recently completed indoor season, the Florida men's squad took home the NCAA national title. Florida State swept the ACC men's and women's indoor team championships.

The Florida men's team is ranked No. 4 nationally to begin the 2018 outdoor season, with Auburn checking in at No. 18. On the women's side, Florida opens the year at No. 8, while Florida State is ranked No. 19.

Looking Back
Competing in the FSU Relays for the first time since 2005, Liberty performed well in Tallahassee a year ago. The Flames placed second to host Florida State in the men's team standings, while the Lady Flames trailed only Florida State and Auburn on the women's team ledger.

Liberty's Bradley Prentice and Michael Todd posted a 1-2 finish in the men's 800 last season, while the Lady Flames' foursome of Tanner Ealum, Delaney McDowell, Nicole Leonzo and Olivia Behymer took home the women's 4 x 400 relay title.

Five current Liberty records were set at past editions of the FSU Relays, including the men's 4 x 400 relay (3:07.28 in 1997), men's 4 x 1,500 relay (15:45.70 in 1999), men's sprint medley relay (3:22.19 in 1997), men's distance medley relay (9:42.98 in 1998) and women's 4 x 1,500 relay (19:15.14 in 2004).

Sunshine Staters
Three Liberty athletes will get to compete in their home state on Friday, including Jahquez Durham (Orlando), Jonny Saintil (Miami) and Carson Waters (St. Petersburg Beach).

Durham is the nephew of Florida State sprints coach Ricky Argro and will get to race against Argro's athletes in the 200, 400 and 4 x 400 relay on Friday.

Encore, Encore!
Liberty redshirt sophomore Jovaine Atkinson closed out his 2018 indoor season with a flourish, lowering the program and Big South men's 60 hurdles records to 7.64 and placing fourth in the event at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.

On Friday, the Spanish Town, Jamaica native is entered in his outdoor specialty event, the 110 hurdles. Atkinson, who was the 2017 FSU Relays 110 hurdles runner-up, owns the school record of 13.93 seconds. The Big South record of 13.60 was set by Radford's Vincent Wyatt in 2014.

Friday's race will match Atkinson up against talented freshman Trey Cunningham of Florida State, the sixth-place finisher in the NCAA men's 60 hurdles final.

All-World Sprinters
Liberty's Alejandro Perlaza Zapata and Tanner Ealum will both be racing for the first time since notching noteworthy times at the IC4A/ECAC Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, March 4 in Boston, Mass.

Perlaza Zapata's winning 400 time of 46.14 set a South American indoor record. The junior from Cali, Colombia, is slated to run the 200, 400, 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 events on Friday.

Meanwhile, Ealum clocked the world's fourth-fastest women's 500 time of 2018 (1:11.17) in Boston. The sophomore from Anchorage, Alaska is entered in the 200, 400 and 4 x 400 at the FSU Relays. Last year, Ealum led off for Liberty's winning 4 x 400 squad and placed fifth in the 400 at this meet.

Making Their Point
The javelin is one of Liberty's strongest events, and the Flames got off to an impressive start at last weekend's CSU Spring Break Invitational. Paige Demetriades won the women's javelin at 156-4, moving into second place in program history, while Caleb Hart's personal-best 201-0 heave won the men's javelin competition.

On Friday afternoon, all four of Liberty's javelin returnees from the 2017 NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet are scheduled to throw, including Samuel Arter, Alexander Hoffsmith, Denzel Pratt and Brenna Smith. Pratt was the Flames' top javelin thrower in Tallahassee in 2017, reaching 213-3 for second place.

Big South's Best
After just one weekend of outdoor competition, Liberty ranks No. 1 in the Big South Conference in the following events.

Men's 110 Hurdles – Markus Ballengee (14.42)
Men's 400 Hurdles – Branson Rolle (54.47)
Men's Shot Put – William Partridge (52-7.5)
Men's Javelin – Caleb Hart (201-0)
Women's 400 – Maggie McDermott (58.18)
Women's Hammer – Dasiana Larson (184-10)
Women's Javelin – Paige Demetriades (156-4)

Punching Tickets to Tampa
The 2018 NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet will be contested at USF Track & Field Stadium, May 24-26 in Tampa, Fla. The East Region's top 48 performers in each event (other than the heptathlon and decathlon) will compete at the meet, looking to qualify for the 2018 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

One of the newest Lady Flames became Liberty's first athlete to punch her ticket to Tampa. Paige Demetriades, a redshirt sophomore transfer from Pittsburgh, just enrolled at Liberty in January. Less than two months later, she hurled the javelin a personal-best 156-4 at last weekend's CSU Spring Break Invitational in Charleston, S.C. The mark ranks No. 3 in the East Region, earned Big South Women's Field Athlete of the Week honors and will certainly qualify Demetriades for a trip to Tampa in May.

Up Next
Liberty will divide its athletes between the Texas Relays (March 28-31 in Austin, Texas) and Raleigh Relays (March 30-31 in Raleigh, N.C.)