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Perlaza Zapata Set for NCAA Indoor Championships

March 6, 2019  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Perlaza Zapata Set for NCAA Indoor Championships

Meet Schedule (Times Listed are Central)

Friday Video Streaming (ESPN3)

Saturday Video Streaming (ESPN3)

Live Results

Start Lists

Liberty senior Alejandro Perlaza Zapata will compete in the men's 400-meter dash at the 2019 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, Friday and Saturday at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Ala.

Perlaza Zapata will race in the semifinals Friday at 7:42 p.m. Eastern. The men's 400 final is scheduled for Saturday at 6 p.m. Eastern.

How to Keep up with Perlaza Zapata
ESPN3 will broadcast the meet live, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Eastern on Friday and at 5 p.m. Eastern on Saturday.

A replay of the meet will air on ESPN2 Sunday at 10 p.m. Eastern and on ESPNU Monday at 10 p.m. Eastern.

Live results will be available throughout both days of competition, courtesy of Flash Results.

About the Facility
The Birmingham CrossPlex is hosting the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships for the second time since opening in 2011. The facility served as the site of the 2016 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, where Ednah Kurgat placed ninth in the women's 5K for Liberty. This weekend will mark the first time Liberty has competed in Birmingham since Kurgat's race in 2016.

Like the Liberty Indoor Track Complex, the Birmingham CrossPlex features a six-lane, 200-meter hydraulically banked track.

NCAA Championship Event Capsule
Men's 400
Event Schedule: Semifinals – Friday at 7:42 p.m. Eastern, Final – Saturday at 6 p.m. Eastern

Liberty Competitor: Alejandro Perlaza Zapata (Sr., Cali, Colombia)

How He Got Here: Perlaza Zapata punched his ticket to Birmingham during his final opportunity, winning the ASUN men's 400 final in a meet and facility-record time of 46.15 seconds. That is tied for 14th fastest (with South Carolina's Arinze Chance) among the 16 men's 400 runners who will be competing this weekend.

Record Breaker: Perlaza Zapata has run 12 races this season and has broken records during five of them.

Jan. 26 – Liberty Kickoff – 200 – 21.17 (School and Colombian Record)

Jan. 26 – Liberty Kickoff – 500 – 1:01.35 (School, Meet and Facility Record)

Feb. 23 – ASUN – 200 – 21.04 (School, Meet and Colombian Record)

Feb. 23 – ASUN – 400 – 46.15 (Meet and Facility Record)

Feb. 23 – ASUN – 4 x 400 – 3:11.65 (Meet Record)

Hauling in the Hardware: Perlaza Zapata was named Men's Most Outstanding Track Performer at the 2019 ASUN Indoor Track & Field Championships after winning all three of his events (200, 400, 4 x 400 relay) in meet-record fashion.

The senior also earned a pair of ASUN Men's Track Athlete of the Week honors on Jan. 30 and Feb. 6.

Making History: Perlaza Zapata is the first ASUN men's indoor track & field athlete ever to qualify for the NCAA national meet in a running event.

He is Liberty's first runner to reach the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships in the men's 400 since Liberty Athletics Hall of Famer Mike Decker did so in 2000 and 2001.

Experienced Competitor: This will mark Perlaza Zapata's first appearance at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, but he is no stranger to big meets.

He represented Colombia in the men's 4 x 400 relay at both the 2016 Olympic Games and 2017 World Championships. Perlaza Zapata then qualified for the 2018 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the men's 400 during his first season at Liberty.

International Flavor: Perlaza Zapata is one of five international athletes among the 16 men's 400 dash competitors in Birmingham. He will be joined by Texas' Jonathan Jones (Barbados), South Carolina's Arinze Chance (Guyana), TCU's Derrick Mokaleng (South Africa) and Florida's Benjamin Lobo Vedel (Denmark).

How the Event will Progress in Birmingham: As long as Perlaza Zapata successfully completes a race this weekend, he will come away as no worse than a second team All-American.

Perlaza Zapata will compete in the second of four semifinal heats Friday evening, starting in lane 5. There will be four runners in each heat, with the top eight overall times advancing to Saturday's final.

Last year, it took a time of 46.08 or faster to reach the final, but only two of the 2018 finalists (top-seeded Kahmari Montgomery of Houston and TCU's Derrick Mokaleng) are back to compete this season.

All eight runners who qualify for the final are recognized as first team All-Americans and will be able to score points for their respective teams on Saturday.

What's at Stake for Perlaza Zapata: If Perlaza Zapata can run faster than 46.14 this weekend, he will break his own Liberty, Colombian and South American indoor 400 records set while winning the IC4A indoor title in Boston on March 4, 2018.

The best finish by a Flame in the men's 400 at this meet was fifth place by Mike Decker at the 2001 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. That effort earned Liberty's first-ever team points at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.