Bradley Prentice advanced to the men's 800 quarterfinals, thanks to a school-record time of 1:48.70.
Liberty's 13.5-hour opening day of the 2018 NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet at USF Track & Field Stadium on Thursday featured a little bit of everything. The Flames posted one new school record (Bradley Prentice – 1:48.70 in the men's 800), two top-18 finishes in the 10Ks and five qualifiers to running event quarterfinals.
Following a lightning delay, junior Azaria Kirwa placed 13th in the men's 10K and freshman Noel Palmer came in 18th in the women's 10K.
Earlier in the day, Liberty's runners who advanced to quarterfinals included Prentice in the men's 800, Alejandro Perlaza Zapata (men's 400), Colin Schultz (men's 1,500), Delaney McDowell (women's 800) and Kimone Green (women's 400 hurdles).
Men's Day One Recap Competing in just his third race of the 2018 outdoor season, Kirwa led for much of the first half of Thursday night's men's 10K. In the end, he crossed the finish line 13th for the second straight year at this meet, just one spot away from punching his ticket to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. Kirwa clocked a time of 29:46.38 in the fastest men's 10K in meet history. Nine of the 10 fastest men's 10K times ever at the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet were recorded on Thursday, despite warm, humid conditions.
Prentice finished his 800-meter first round heat with a flourish, moving from seventh place up to third within the final 200 meters to claim a spot in Friday's quarterfinal round at 2 p.m. His time of 1:48.70 eclipsed the school record of 1:48.96 which had just been set by teammate Colin Schultz on April 28. Prentice's 1:48.70 was the seventh-fastest time overall among Thursday's six heats and was a notable improvement upon the junior's previous best of 1:49.37.
Speaking of Schultz, the redshirt senior ran a tactically smart men's 1,500 first round heat, placing second for an automatic berth in Saturday's 1 p.m. quarterfinals. After a slow early pace, the Las Vegas native clocked 54.04 for his final lap and 1:56.38 for his last 800, finishing in 3:51.08 overall.
Perlaza Zapata also moved on to the next round with a second-place finish in his heat. His 400 time of 45.61, the seventh-fastest effort of the day, earned a spot in the quarterfinals, slated for Friday at 1 p.m.
Sophomore teammate Jahquez Durham ran the second-fastest 400 of his career (47.59) but failed to advance, placing 42nd overall in the event.
Competing near his hometown of St. Petersburg Beach, senior Carson Waters got the Flames' day started in the men's pole vault Thursday morning. The 2018 Big South men's indoor and outdoor pole vault champion wrapped up his collegiate career with a 16-4.75 clearance, tying for 22nd place.
Freshman Branson Rolle clocked a time of 52.48 to place sixth in his heat and 31st overall in the men's 400 hurdles first round.
Women's Day One Recap Palmer started out near the back of the pack in the women's 10K, a race which began just after 10:30 p.m. to wrap up the day's action on the track. By the end of the 25-lap contest, the freshman worked her way up to 18th place in the 46-member field. Palmer's personal-best time of 34:41.02 ranked third among freshmen in the race and put her just 17.1 seconds away from qualifying for Eugene, Ore.
McDowell claimed her berth in Friday's 2:15 p.m. women's 800 quarterfinals with a personal-best 2:06.95 effort. The Buckeye State native finished 23rd in the first round for the event's next-to-last time qualifier. She now ranks No. 3 in Liberty and Big South history for the two-lap event after lowering her previous personal best of 2:07.31.
Sophomore Tanner Ealum just missed joining McDowell in the 800 quarterfinals, clocking 2:07.59 for 32nd place.
Green posted a time of 58.70 in her first round heat of the women's 400 hurdles, placing 24th as the final time qualifier to Friday's quarterfinals, set for a 2:45 p.m. start.
Fellow senior Brenna Smith reached 150-11 on her third and final javelin attempt. As a result, the two-time defending Big South women's javelin champion closed out her Liberty career with a 22nd-place finish in the event.
On the opposite end of the experience spectrum, freshman Naomi Mojica made her NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round debut on Thursday. She was consistent, with all three of the Mexico native's shot put attempts landing between 51-7.25 and 51-10.5. Mojica ended up 21st overall, including third among freshmen.
Up Next The NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet will resume Thursday at 8:45 a.m. with the men's discus. Liberty's first event of the day will be the women's pole vault, featuring Jessie Glynn, at 9:30. Running events will get started at noon with Jovaine Atkinson in the men's 110 hurdles first round.