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Liberty to Compete in Texas Relays, Raleigh Relays

March 27, 2019  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Michael Todd (left) and Jahquez Durham (right) will keep busy at the Texas Relays this weekend. (Photo by R. Taylor Jones)

Michael Todd (left) and Jahquez Durham (right) will keep busy at the Texas Relays this weekend. (Photo by R. Taylor Jones)

Texas Relays Information Central
Texas Relays Meet Schedule
Texas Relays Live Results
Texas Relays on Longhorn Network (Friday 10:30-1:30)
Texas Relays on Longhorn Network (Friday 6-8)
Texas Relays on Longhorn Network (Saturday 2:30-6:30)
Austin Weather

Raleigh Relays Information Central
Raleigh Relays Meet Schedule
Raleigh Relays Live Results
Raleigh Relays on ACC Network Extra (Friday at 7)
Raleigh Relays on ACC Network Extra (Saturday at 1:20)
Raleigh Weather

Liberty will split its men's and women's outdoor track & field teams between a pair of highly competitive meets this weekend, including the 92nd Clyde Littlefield Relays in Austin, Texas (sprinters and throwers) and the Raleigh Relays in Raleigh, N.C. (distance runners and jumpers). Both meets will feature events on Friday and Saturday.

Jose Ballivian will get things started for the Flames in Texas, competing in Section B of the men's discus Friday at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Meanwhile, Kammi Kurtz will take part in the very first race of this year's Raleigh Relays, section 1 of the women's 5K, Friday at 9 a.m.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Longhorn Network will provide live coverage of the Texas Relays with broadcasts running from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Eastern and 6-8 p.m. Eastern on Friday along with 2:30-6:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturday.

ACC Network Extra will broadcast the Raleigh Relays beginning at 7 p.m. Friday evening and at 1:20 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

Live results will be available throughout both the Texas Relays and Raleigh Relays.

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

Weather Report
Both Friday and Saturday are expected to be cloudy and breezy with high temperatures in the mid 70s in Austin, Texas. There is a chance of thunderstorms Saturday afternoon.

Friday and Saturday's high temperatures in Raleigh are forecasted to be in the low 70s with sunshine more prevalent Friday than Saturday.

Scouting the Competition
Liberty will square off against some elite competition at the Texas Relays. Denzel Pratt will face the defending NCAA national champion (Mississippi State's Anderson Peters) and the defending USATF national champion (Mississippi State's Curtis Thompson) in Section A of the men's javelin. Meanwhile, Naomi Mojica is part of a Section A women's shot put field which features five of NCAA Division I's current top 10 throwers, including herself.

The Raleigh Relays annually produce some of the nation's fastest distance times, propelling many athletes to the NCAA Preliminary Round meets and beyond. Last year's winning times included 4:13.82 (women's 1,500), 15:46.22 (women's 5K), 33:30.33 (women's 10K), 10:06.35 (women's steeplechase), Liberty's Colin Schultz's 3:44.78 (men's 1,500), 13:54.50 (men's 5K), 28:45.96 (men's 10K) and 8:39.50 (men's steeplechase).

Looking Back
Liberty set school records in two different events at last year's Texas Relays, including the men's 110 hurdles (Jovaine Atkinson – 13.77) and men's sprint medley relay (Travis Henderson, Jahquez Durham, Alejandro Perlaza Zapata, Michael Todd – 3:20.65). Current Flame Christian Lyon, then representing Barton Community College, won the men's 100 final in a wind-aided 10.00 seconds.

Colin Schultz posted an impressive victory in 3:44.78 in the men's 1,500 at the 2018 Raleigh Relays, while Noel Palmer clocked a time of 34:47.26 in her women's 10K debut.

Liberty has traditionally fared well in the Raleigh Relays 10K races. Sam Chelanga won the men's 10K in 2011 with a time of 28:15.64 which still stands as the meet and facility record. Meanwhile, five of the top 10 women's 10K runners in program history notched their personal-best times at the Raleigh Relays, spanning from Tracy Hoare in 2001 to Ednah Kurgat in 2015.

National Preview
The Liberty athletes competing at the Texas Relays will get a first-hand look at the venue for the 2019 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The meet will take place at Mike A. Myers Stadium, June 5-8, for the first time since 2004.

The NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships were contested at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., from 2013-18, but the facility is currently under construction. As a result, Texas will play host to the meet in both 2019 and 2020.

Rounding Up the Relays
Appropriately for the meet's title (Texas Relays), Liberty is entered in seven different relay races in Austin, including the men's 4 x 100, men's 4 x 400, men's sprint medley, women's 4 x 100, women's 4 x 200, women's 4 x 400 and women's sprint medley.

Liberty has set school records in relay events during each of its last two Texas Relays appearances, including a women's 4 x 800 time of 8:56.96 in 2016 and a men's sprint medley clocking of 3:20.65 last year.

Jahquez Durham and Alejandro Perlaza Zapata are each expected to compete in all three of the men's relay races, while Ty'Asia Dansbury and Cortney Dowling are entered in all four of the Lady Flames' relay quartets.

Go the Distance
The Raleigh Relays are best known for distance running, and this year's meet will feature 20 sections of the 1,500, seven sections of the steeplechase, 13 sections of the 5K and five sections of the 10K.

Two Flames (Azaria Kirwa – men's 5K and Noel Palmer – women's 10K) will race in the fastest seeded sections of their respective events. Their races will take place back-to-back Friday evening, beginning with Kirwa's 5K at 8:41 p.m. and followed by Palmer's 10K at 9 p.m.

Both Kirwa and Palmer have experienced success at the Raleigh Relays in previous years. Kirwa clocked a personal-best 29:05.57 10K to place eighth at the 2017 Raleigh Relays. Last year, Palmer made a successful debut at the 10K during the Raleigh Relays, narrowly missing the Liberty freshman record with her 34:47.26 clocking.

Atop the ASUN
After the first two weekends of the 2019 outdoor track & field season, Liberty athletes rank No. 1 in the ASUN Conference in 16 different events.

Men's 100 – Elijah Pierson (10.64)
Men's 400 – Jahquez Durham (48.56)
Men's 4 x 400 – Durham, Todd, Perlaza Zapata, Smalley (3:12.20)
Men's Pole Vault – Anders Janes (15-7)
Men's Shot Put – Jose Ballivian (58-1)
Men's Discus – Jose Ballivian (171-3)
Men's Javelin – Denzel Pratt (225-8)
Women's 400 – Tanner Ealum (55.61)
Women's 1,500 – Delaney McDowell (4:29.99)
Women's 400 Hurdles – Kylie Polsgrove (1:01.09)
Women's 4 x 400 – Rolan, Dansbury, McDowell, Dowling (3:43.63)
Women's Triple Jump – Adrianna Mitchell (40-4.25)
Women's Shot Put – Naomi Mojica (52-3.75)
Women's Discus – Chelsea Igberaese (150-2)
Women's Hammer – Chelsea Igberaese (174-4)
Women's Javelin – Paige Demetriades (125-3)

Punching Tickets to Jacksonville
The 2019 NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet will be contested at Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla., May 23-25. The East Region's top 48 performers in each individual event (other than the heptathlon and decathlon) and top 24 teams in each relay will compete at the meet, looking to qualify for the 2019 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

At this stage of the season, four Liberty throwers appear to have punched their tickets to compete in Jacksonville, based upon previous seasons' qualifying requirements. They include the following athletes:

Jose Ballivian – Men's Shot Put
Kyle Mitchell – Men's Shot Put
Denzel Pratt – Men's Javelin

Naomi Mojica – Women's Shot Put

Up Next
Liberty will take next week off from competition before sending athletes to three different meets the following weekend. These include the Tennessee Relays (April 11-13 in Knoxville, Tenn.), the Gamecock Invitational (April 13 in Columbia, S.C.) and the WildCat Invitational (April 13 in Lynchburg).