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Liberty Kickoff Slated for Friday and Saturday

January 23, 2019  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Kylie Polsgrove will aim for her third straight Liberty Kickoff pentathlon title on Friday.

Kylie Polsgrove will aim for her third straight Liberty Kickoff pentathlon title on Friday.

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The Liberty men's and women's indoor track & field teams will open their 2019 home schedule this Friday and Saturday, playing host to the 14th Liberty Kickoff at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex.

This weekend's meet will feature approximately 1,200 athletes from 35 colleges and universities. Events will begin Friday at 12:30 p.m. with the pentathlon 60-meter hurdles. Action will resume Saturday at 9 a.m. with the start of the men's weight throw. Admission is free of charge to all spectators.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results will be available throughout the meet, courtesy of Blue Ridge Timing.

Periodic updates will also be posted to the Liberty Track & Field/Cross Country Twitter account, @Liberty_XCTF.

Scouting the Competition
Liberty will get a firsthand look at ASUN Conference competition for the first time since joining the league this season, with Kennesaw State and Lipscomb scheduled to compete in the Liberty Kickoff. The Kennesaw State men's team has captured seven straight ASUN indoor titles.

Other Division I squads scheduled to compete at the Liberty Kickoff include Campbell, Coastal Carolina, Elon, Gardner-Webb, Hampton, High Point, James Madison, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Mount St. Mary's, N.C. Central, UNC Asheville, UNCW, USC Upstate and William & Mary.

About the Facility
The 169,000-square-foot Liberty Indoor Track Complex is highlighted by a six-lane, 200-meter, hydraulically banked oval. The facility, which includes permanent seating for approximately 1,500 spectators, also boasts ample space for athletes. Competitors are availed a sizeable mezzanine area which sits above an eight-lane, 100-meter warm-up straightaway.

The Liberty Indoor Track Complex opened in January 2017 and has seen records broken ever since. Most recently, national high school records were set in the boys' 4 x 200 and 4 x 400 relays at last weekend's Virginia Showcase.

The Flames will host four meets at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex this season, also including the Liberty Flames Invite (Feb. 2), the fifth annual Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational (Feb. 8-9) and the 2019 ASUN Indoor Track & Field Championships (Feb. 22-23).

The Liberty Indoor Track Complex is located beneath the LU monogram off of Candlers Mountain Road. The facility's address is 1531 Liberty Mountain Drive, Lynchburg, VA 24502.

Liberty Kickoff History
This weekend's meet will be the 14th edition of the Liberty Kickoff, the Flames' longest-running home indoor track & field competition. The event will take place in January for just the fourth time, with the first being the inaugural Liberty Kickoff, Jan. 28-29, 2005. That meet was the first to be contested at the Tolsma Indoor Track Center. The 2017 Liberty Kickoff, which was held Jan. 20-21, 2017, marked the Liberty Indoor Track Complex's first-ever collegiate competition.

The list of meet record holders includes two of Liberty's three track & field/cross country NCAA Division I national champions, Heather (Sagan) Zealand (meet record holder in the women's mile and 3K) and Josh McDougal (meet record holder in the men's 3K and 5K). It also features U.S. Olympic hurdler Bershawn "Batman" Jackson, who set the meet record in the men's 500 in 2017.

Last year's Liberty Kickoff saw Virginia Tech's Rachel Pocratsky clock 2:41.98 in the women's 1,000, ranking her No. 6 in the world for 2018.

Bravo, Ballivian!
Jose Ballivian made an impressive Liberty debut at last weekend's Hokie Invitational, throwing the shot put 58-2.5 to place third in the event and notch an IC4A qualifier. As a result, the native of Santiago, Chile, was named ASUN Men's Field Performer of the Week, becoming the first Flames track & field athlete ever to garner an ASUN weekly award.

Ballivian is slated to throw the shot put again this Saturday as part of a field including the top four men's shot putters in the ASUN Conference this season. Ballivian tops the list at 58-2.5, followed by the Kennesaw State duo of Tyler Blalock (53-5) and Chuck McConville (52-3.5) and Liberty freshman Sam Mastro (45-9.75).

McConville was the 2018 ASUN indoor men's shot put champion, while Blalock captured the 2018 ASUN outdoor men's shot put crown.

Conference Clashes
The men's shot put is one of several events where Liberty competitors will face some of their top ASUN competitors this weekend, approximately one month before the 2019 ASUN Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Friday evening, the women's weight throw will feature six of the ASUN's top eight competitors in 2019. They include No. 1 Patria Vaimaona of Liberty, No. 2 Chelsea Igberaese of Liberty, No. 4 Nia Seldon of Kennesaw State, No. 5 Javon Joyner of Kennesaw State, No. 7 Megan Douglas of Kennesaw State and No. 8 Naomi Mojica of Liberty.

In the women's mile, the ASUN cross country champion (Lipscomb's Courtney Brenner), runner-up (Liberty's Noel Palmer) and fourth-place finisher (Lipscomb's Brooke Kingma) will go head to head with Kennesaw State freshman Brenda Ayuk, who ranks No. 3 on this year's ASUN list at 5:02.63.

Last season's ASUN men's indoor and outdoor 200 champion (Kennesaw State's Cameron Bolden) and last year's Big South men's indoor and outdoor 200 winner (Liberty's Alejandro Perlaza Zapata) are both entered in Saturday's men's 200 dash.

The men's 800 will see Liberty senior Michael Todd square off with two-time defending ASUN men's indoor 800 titlist Ryan Speer of Lipscomb.

Polsgrove and the Pentathletes
Liberty's Kylie Polsgrove will compete in the first pentathlon of her senior season on Friday, beginning at 12:30 p.m. She is the two-time defending champion of the Liberty Kickoff pentathlon and has also claimed back-to-back Big South pentathlon titles.

Kennesaw State's Jordan Gray, who currently ranks No. 1 nationally with a score of 4,218, also appears on the pentathlon entry list but is not expected to complete all five events on Friday. Gray's younger sister Jamie is one of two Liberty freshmen (also Abby Thorpe) slated to make their collegiate pentathlon debuts at the Liberty Kickoff.

Atop the ASUN
After just one weekend of competition, Liberty ranks No. 1 in the ASUN Conference in 10 different events.

The Flames' ASUN leaders include Jovaine Atkinson (men's 60 hurdles – 7.91), Jose Ballivian (men's shot put – 58-2.5), Tanner Ealum (women's 400 – 56.74), Anders Janes (men's pole vault – 15-7), Taylen Langin (women's pole vault – 12-7.5), Delaney McDowell (women's mile – 5:00.68), Naomi Mojica (women's shot put – 48-2.5), Jonny Saintil (men's triple jump – 48-10.25), Patria Vaimaona (women's weight throw – 60-6.5) and the Liberty men's 4 x 400 relay quartet of Branson Rolle, Jahquez Durham, Michael Todd and Alejandro Perlaza Zapata (3:15.90).

Up Next
The Flames will remain at home next weekend for the Liberty Flames Invite. The one-day event at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex is expected to run from approximately 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Feb. 2.