The 5th annual Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational wrapped up Saturday at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex, honoring the memory of a Liberty freshman sprinter who tragically died in an automobile accident on Dec. 7, 2013, two days after his first collegiate track meet. Somewhat fittingly, freshmen starred for the Flames on Saturday, recording three of the home team's four first-place finishes and four of Liberty's five new IC4A/ECAC qualifications.
Liberty's freshman champions included Anders Janes (men's open pole vault, 15-9), Felix Kandie (men's 3K, 8:16.44) and Naomi Bowser (women's 1,000, 2:56.35). Sophomore Naomi Mojica added a victory in the women's shot put at 47-8.
Janes and Kandie each punched their IC4A tickets on Saturday, with Bowser missing the ECAC standard for the women's 1,000 by a tantalizing 0.11 seconds. Freshmen Ally Kipchirchir (IC4A men's 800, 1:53.93) and Calli Parlier (ECAC women's mile, 4:58.13) also dipped under the qualifying standards, along with senior Azaria Kirwa (IC4A men's 3K, 8:20.11).
Kandie and Kirwa made it a 1-2 Liberty finish in the men's 3K, one of the day's most highly anticipated races. Kandie pulled away from his All-American teammate during the final two laps to win by more than three seconds and climb to No. 6 in program history. Kandie also outdueled third-place Tom Nobles of Charlotte, a 2018 NCAA national qualifier in the steeplechase.
Liberty also swept the top two places in the women's shot put, thanks to Mojica and runner-up Patria Vaimaona (46-3.5), who had previously won the women's weight throw Friday evening.
Bowser made it back-to-back victories at the 1,000-meter distance, following her triumph at last Saturday's Liberty Flames Invite. She had a unique schedule on Saturday, also including a 10-6 pole vault clearance and a leg on the 4 x 400 relay.
Janes has now won the open men's pole vault twice this season, after taking top honors in the same event at the season-opening Hokie Invitational. Saturday's third-attempt clearance at 15-9 added two inches to the redshirt freshman's previous personal best.
Men's Event Winners (2) Anders Janes – Pole Vault – 15-9 (Open Section) Felix Kandie – 3K – 8:16.44
Women's Event Winners (2) Naomi Bowser – 1,000 – 2:56.35 (Won by 4.11 seconds over East Carolina's Grace Sullivan) Naomi Mojica – Shot Put – 47-8
Other Men's Top 3 Finishers 2nd – Jose Ballivian – Shot Put – 57-3.75 2nd – Ally Kipchirchir – 800 – 1:53.93 (First collegiate finisher) 2nd – Azaria Kirwa – 3K – 8:20.11 2nd – Jonny Saintil – Triple Jump – 48-4.75 3rd – Isaiah Ignacio – 500 – 1:08.56
Other Women's Top 3 Finishers 2nd – Calli Parlier – Mile – 4:58.13 2nd – Kylie Polsgrove – High Jump – 5-5 2nd – Patria Vaimaona – Shot Put – 46-3.5 3rd – Makenzy Mizera – Long Jump – 18-2.25
New Men's IC4A Qualifiers (4) Anders Janes – Pole Vault – 15-9 Felix Kandie – 3K – 8:16.44 Ally Kipchirchir – 800 – 1:53.93 Azaria Kirwa – 3K – 8:20.11
New Women's ECAC Qualifiers (1) Calli Parlier – Mile – 4:58.13
Updates to Liberty's All-Time Men's Top 10 List 3K – No. 6 – Felix Kandie – 8:16.44
Updates to Liberty's All-Time Women's Top 10 List 1,000 – No. 7 – Naomi Bowser – 2:56.35 Mile – No. 9 – Calli Parlier – 4:58.13
Up Next After a weekend off from competition, Liberty will host the 2019 ASUN Indoor Track & Field Championships, Feb. 22-23 at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex.