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Liberty Track Set to Represent USA in Brazil

July 18, 2018  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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The Brazilian Paralympic Center will play host to the track & field events during the FISU America Games.

The Brazilian Paralympic Center will play host to the track & field events during the FISU America Games.

FISU America Games Website

Schedule of Events

Link to Video Streaming

USA Team Website

USA Team Twitter (@usateam_)

Sao Paulo Weather

The inaugural FISU America Games are slated for July 20-28 at the Brazilian Paralympic Training Center in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the USA Team's track & field squad will feature a strong Liberty presence. Flames Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Brant Tolsma will serve as the USA Team's head coach, and half of his 30-athlete team boasts ties to Liberty.

Following Friday's opening ceremonies, the track & field events are slated for Saturday through Tuesday. The USA Team athletes will compete against collegiate opponents from Canada, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Brazil, Venezuela, Paraguay, Honduras, Mexico and Uruguay.

How to Follow the FISU America Games
The host Brazilian Federation (CBDU) is planning to stream select events on their Facebook page. They will also stream the opening ceremony (Friday at 6 p.m. Eastern) and the closing ceremony (July 28 at 7 p.m. Eastern).

The official event website (, the USA Team website ( and the USA Team Twitter account (@usateam_) are the best places to watch for results as the FISU America Games progress.

Weather Report
Partly cloudy skies and high temperatures in the mid to upper 70s are forecasted for the duration of the track & field events in Sao Paulo.

What are the FISU America Games?
The FISU America Games are a multi-sport event sanctioned by the International University Sports Federation (FISU). Alternating with the Summer and Winter Universiades, which invite all the countries of the world for the biennial events, the FISU America Games are a regional multi-sport event similar to the Pan-American Games for FISU member-countries of North and South America held in even-numbered years.

The 2018 Games will be the inaugural FISU America Games held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, July 20-28. All sports except soccer and futsal will be played at the newly-constructed Brazilian Paralympic Center. The event will be hosted by the Brazilian Federation (CBDU).

USA Team will have representation in men's and women's track & field, men's and women's basketball, men's soccer, judo and men's and women's volleyball. In total, the U.S. will be sending 96 student-athletes and a total delegation of 138 Americans to Sao Paulo.

Additional sports that the U.S. does not have representation in include futsal, women's soccer, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, Paralympic swimming, Paralympic table tennis and Paralympic track & field.

What is USA Team?
USA Team is an organization overseen by the United States International University Sports Federation (US-ISUF). Members of the USA Team compete globally as representatives of the United States in university-level sports competitions organized by FISU, the governing body of university sport worldwide. Together with the USA Team, US-IUSF represents the official governing body for the United States at all FISU events, including the World University Games, the World University Championships and FISU America Games.

The distinction between Team USA and USA Team is important. Team USA is a trademarked name for representatives associated with the U.S. Olympic Committee. USA Team is the trademarked name for representatives associated with US-ISUF.

Incidentally, Liberty's Markus Ballengee will be part of both Team USA and USA Team during the next couple weeks. He will be the USA Team's lone decathlete at the FISU America Games. Ballengee will then head to Knoxville, Tenn., to represent Team USA at the Thorpe Cup, July 27-28. That event will pit the USA's top multi-event athletes against counterparts from Germany.

Additionally, the Flames' Jovaine Atkinson will be a part of the USA Team in Brazil despite his Jamaican citizenship. The USA Team consists of athletes who attend college in the United States.

Roster Breakdown
Thirteen members of the USA Team for track & field were part of the 2018 Liberty track & field squad, including six recently graduated seniors (Travis Henderson, Darrel Jones, Alyssa Karle, Dasiana Larson, Brenna Smith and Carson Waters).

Flames All-Americans Jovaine Atkinson and Markus Ballengee will also be part of the USA Team, along with teammates Cortney Dowling, Jahquez Durham, Kammi Kurtz, Noel Palmer and Michael Todd.

The USA Team roster also features Christian Lyon, who will join the Liberty squad as a junior for the 2019 season. He won the 2018 Texas Relays men's 100 title in 10.00 seconds and helped Barton Community College capture the 2018 NJCAA national title for the 4 x 100 relay.

Mark Fairley, who will serve as a graduate assistant for Liberty track & field/cross country beginning this fall, will run the steeplechase in Brazil. He was the 2018 NCAA Division III men's steeplechase national champion in a time of 8:57.39 for Central College.

USA Team's other entrants are highlighted by a trio of NCAA Division I All-Americans (East Carolina's Galissia Cause, Samford's Tray Oates and Kent State's Craig Stevens), an NCAA Division III All-American (Christopher Newport's Jeffrey Dover) and an NAIA All-American (Webber International's Jordan Clarke).

Three USA Team members (Morgan Knight, Kayla Melgar and Soren Underwood) hail from Abilene Christian, where the head coach is former Liberty assistant Lance Bingham.

Brant Tolsma will serve as USA Team's head coach, and he will be aided by Liberty assistants Clendon Henderson, Andrew "Pete" McFadden and Shawn Venable.

USA Team Men's Roster
Jovaine Atkinson (Liberty) – Hurdles
Markus Ballengee (Liberty) – Decathlon

Jordan Clarke (Webber International) – Sprints, Relays
Jeffrey Dover (Christopher Newport) – Distance
Jahquez Durham (Liberty) – Sprints, Relays
Mark Fairley (Central College) – Distance
Travis Henderson (Liberty) – Sprints, Relays
Darrel Jones (Liberty) – Jumps

Morgan Knight (Abilene Christian) – Throws
Christian Lyon (Barton CC) – Sprints, Relays
Tray Oates (Samford) – Pole Vault
Craig Stevens (Kent State) – Jumps
Michael Todd (Liberty) – 800, Relays
Carson Waters (Liberty) – Pole Vault

USA Team Women's Roster
Nekiesha Bailey (Prairie View A&M) – High Jump
Deonca Bookman (Prairie View A&M) – Hurdles
Galissia Cause (East Carolina) – Throws
Cortney Dowling (Liberty) – Sprints, Relays
Laura Hamann (Cal State Fullerton) – Triple Jump
Iesha Hamm (Cal State Fullerton) – High Jump
Natashia Jackson (Northwestern State) – Sprints, Relays
Alyssa Karle (Liberty) – Distance
Kammi Kurtz (Liberty) – Distance
Dasiana Larson (Liberty) – Throws

Kayla Melgar (Abilene Christian) – Throws
Noel Palmer (Liberty) – Distance
Domonique Panton (Duke) – Jumps, Relays
Brenna Smith (Liberty) – Javelin
Soren Underwood (Abilene Christian) – 800, Relays
Shelbi White (UAB) – Sprints, Relays

USA Team Staff
Brant Tolsma (Liberty) – Head Coach
Clendon Henderson (Liberty) – Assistant Coach (Throws)
Andrew "Pete" McFadden (Liberty) – Assistant Coach (Sprints)
Shawn Venable (Liberty) – Assistant Coach (Jumps)

Matthew Yates (Randolph) – Athletic Trainer