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Liberty Track Ready for Virginia Grand Prix

April 26, 2018  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty is hoping to post some fast relay times on Saturday. (Photo by Taylor Jones)

Liberty is hoping to post some fast relay times on Saturday. (Photo by Taylor Jones)

Meet Schedule

Live Results

Charlottesville Weather

For the second straight weekend, Liberty men's and women's track & field athletes will compete at Lannigan Field in Charlottesville, Va. Saturday's Virginia Grand Prix will serve as the Flames' next-to-last tuneup for the 2018 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

The one-day meet will begin at 11 a.m. with the women's javelin. Running events will get started with the 10K at 2 p.m.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results will be available throughout the meet, courtesy of Flash Results.

Weather Report
Saturday should be a pleasant day for track & field in Charlottesville, with mostly sunny skies and a high in the low 70s.

Scouting the Competition
The Virginia Grand Prix features a relatively small but high-quality field of entrants. Power Five schools Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Wake Forest and West Virginia will all be represented in Charlottesville. Liberty will also square off against Big South foes High Point and Radford this weekend, just two weeks prior to the Big South meet.

Looking Back
Liberty sent a small group of athletes to the 2017 Virginia Grand Prix. Brad Smalley headlined the Flames' day in Charlottesville, long jumping a program freshman record 23-11.75.

Ready for Relays
Liberty is scheduled to compete in all four of Saturday's relay races, including the men's 4 x 100, men's 4 x 400, women's 4 x 100 and women's 4 x 400. This season, Liberty ranks No. 1 in the Big South in every relay race but the women's 4 x 100, where Radford has clocked 46.18 to the Lady Flames' 46.19.

Liberty has only contested the women's 4 x 100 relay once this season, at the March 23 FSU Relays. Saturday at 4:05 p.m., the Lady Flames will run the event alongside Radford.

The Flames are also hoping for fast times in the 4 x 400 relays, after the men's team ran 3:11.59 and the Lady Flames clocked a season-best 3:40.85 at last weekend's Virginia Challenge.

Liberty has never qualified a relay team to the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet. In order to race in Tampa next month, the Flames will likely need a men's 4 x 400 time of 3:09 or faster and a women's 4 x 400 clocking of 3:39 or faster.

The Lady Flames' quartet of Tanner Ealum, Mary Witmer, Nicole Leonzo and Olivia Behymer set the program 4 x 400 relay record of 3:40.32 almost exactly one year ago, on April 29, 2017 at the Penn Relays.

Welcome to the Club
Senior Dasiana Larson joined some impressive company when she boosted her hammer personal best to 201-6 at last weekend's Duke Invitational. The only other two Lady Flames ever to throw 200+ feet are 2012 All-American Melinda Bendik (202-7) and 2015 All-American Jocelyn Williams (200-10).

Larson is scheduled to throw the hammer Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and will be part of a strong field. Latvian post-collegiate athlete Laura Igaune has thrown 219-2 this season. Meanwhile, Duke's Stefani Vukajlovic has reached 203-1 and North Carolina's Alexandria Cooke has measured 196-7.

Larson is currently ranked No. 14 in the East Region and No. 33 nationally for the women's hammer.

Hot Half Mile
Juniors Bradley Prentice (1:50.52) and Michael Todd (1:51.80) currently rank 1-2 on the Big South men's 800 performance list this season. They are both entered in the event on Saturday, along with 1,500-meter ace Colin Schultz, who will step down to the 800-meter distance for the first time this season.

Todd set the program record of 1:49.56 at Lannigan Field last season. The Flames will be shooting for times in that range to punch their tickets to the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet.

Liberty's trio will battle North Carolina's Cory Nicholls and Virginia's Mike Marsella, both of whom own personal bests of 1:49.

Hop, Skip and Jump
Senior Darrel Jones is the Big South Men's Field Athlete of the Week for the ninth time in his career, thanks to a personal-best 51-5 triple jump at last weekend's Virginia Challenge. Jones, who has traditionally jumped well at Lannigan Field, will return to Charlottesville as part of a small but high-powered men's triple jump field.

Jones' competitors include Nigerian Olympian Olu Olamigoke (the Virginia Challenge champion at 53-3.75), former Missouri All-American Tony Carodine (coming off a 53-11 effort last weekend), Charlotte's Markel Dalton (51-3 season best) and North Carolina's Zay Paschall (50-7.5 season best).

Jones enters the weekend ranked No. 13 in the East Region and No. 26 on the national men's triple jump list.

Big South's Best
About two weeks before the 2018 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Liberty ranks No. 1 in the Big South Conference in the following events.

Men's 400 - Alejandro Perlaza Zapata (46.19)
Men's 800 - Bradley Prentice (1:50.52)
Men's 110 Hurdles - Jovaine Atkinson (13.77)
Men's 400 Hurdles - Branson Rolle (52.22)
Men's 4 x 100 Relay - Henderson, Perlaza Zapata, Edwards, Smalley (41.29)
Men's 4 x 400 Relay - Durham, Todd, Rolle, Perlaza Zapata (3:11.24)
Men's Pole Vault - Carson Waters (16-10.75)
Men's Triple Jump - Darrel Jones (51-5)
Men's Javelin - Denzel Pratt (216-4)
Men's Decathlon - Markus Ballengee (7,537)

Women's 400 - Tanner Ealum (55.91)
Women's 800 - Tanner Ealum (2:07.28)
Women's 5K - Noel Palmer (16:28.13)
Women's 10K - Noel Palmer (34:47.26)
Women's 400 Hurdles - Kimone Green (59.12)
Women's 4 x 400 Relay - Green, Dowling, Dansbury, Ealum (3:40.85)
Women's Pole Vault - Jessie Glynn (13-3.5)
Women's Shot Put - Naomi Mojica (50-0)
Women's Hammer - Dasiana Larson (201-6)
Women's Javelin - Brenna Smith (161-7)
Women's Heptathlon - Kylie Polsgrove (4,932)

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.

Based upon what it took to qualify for last year's NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet, the following Flames and Lady Flames have posted 2018 marks which could send them to Tampa in May.

Liberty could be in line to take its largest group ever to this meet. The Flames' record for most competitors at the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet is 16 at the inaugural edition in Greensboro, N.C., in 2010.

Samuel Arter - Men's Javelin (214-4)
Jovaine Atkinson - Men's 110 Hurdles (13.77)
Paige Demetriades - Women's Javelin (156-4)
Tanner Ealum - Women's 800 (2:07.28)
Jessie Glynn - Women's Pole Vault (13-3.5)
Kimone Green - Women's 400 Hurdles (59.12)
Darrel Jones - Men's Triple Jump (51-5)
Azaria Kirwa - Men's 10K (29:27.40)
Dasiana Larson - Women's Hammer (201-6)
Delaney McDowell - Women's 800 (2:07.31)
Naomi Mojica - Women's Shot Put (50-0)
Noel Palmer - Women's 5K (16:28.13) and 10K (34:47.26)
Alejandro Perlaza Zapata - Men's 400 (46.19)
Denzel Pratt - Men's Javelin (216-4)
Branson Rolle - Men's 400 Hurdles (52.22)
Colin Schultz - Men's 1,500 (3:44.78)
Brenna Smith - Women's Javelin (161-7)
Patria Vaimaona - Women's Discus (162-10)
Carson Waters - Men's Pole Vault (16-10.75)

En Route to Eugene
The only events which are not contested at the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet are the decathlon and heptathlon. The nation's top 24 performers in each of the multi events advance straight to the 2018 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, set for June 6-9 in Eugene, Ore.

It appears that sophomore Markus Ballengee will compete in the decathlon in Eugene, thanks to his score of 7,537 at the Texas Relays. He currently ranks No. 13 nationally and is well ahead of last season's cutoff for national qualification, 7,471 points.

If Ballengee makes it to Eugene, he would be the Flames' 10th decathlete to compete at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships but the first since Daniel Newell in 2009.

Up Next
The Flames' lone home meet of the 2018 outdoor season, the Liberty Twilight Qualifier, will take place Wednesday at the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex.

The meet will tentatively begin with field events at 11:30 a.m. and running events at 2 p.m. Liberty will honor its senior class on the track at 5:15 p.m., just prior to the evening portion of running events.