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Flames Set for Meets at UVA, Duke

April 18, 2019  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Elijah Pierson currently ranks No. 1 in the ASUN in the men's 100 and 200 dashes.

Elijah Pierson currently ranks No. 1 in the ASUN in the men's 100 and 200 dashes.

Virginia Challenge Meet Information
Virginia Challenge Schedule
Virginia Challenge Live Results
Charlottesville Weather

Duke Invitational Meet Information
Duke Invitational Schedule
Duke Invitational Live Results
Durham Weather

Liberty Track & Field Twitter (@Liberty_XCTF)

The Liberty men's and women's track & field teams will be in action at a pair of ACC venues Friday and Saturday, competing in the Virginia Challenge and Duke Invitational.

Most of the Flames' hurdlers, jumpers and women's distance runners will compete at Duke's Morris Williams Stadium, with the remainder of the squad in action at Virginia's Lannigan Field.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results will be available throughout the Virginia Challenge and Duke Invitational, courtesy of Flash Results.

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

Weather Report
Heavy rain and thunderstorms are expected in both Charlottesville and Durham on Friday. As a result, both meets have adjusted their schedules and moved more events to the earlier morning hours.

Both venues are expected to feature high temperatures in the 60s, partly cloudy skies and breezy conditions on Saturday, with only a slight chance of precipitation.

Scouting the Competition
First held in 2012, the Virginia Challenge has quickly become one of the most competitive meets in the region. This year's event features Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, Syracuse, Tennessee, Wake Forest, West Virginia and host Virginia. Liberty will also face ASUN rival Kennesaw State in Charlottesville this weekend.

At the Duke Invitational, the Flames will square off against the host Blue Devils, Minnesota, North Carolina A&T, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and a host of former Big South foes (Campbell, Charleston Southern, Gardner-Webb, High Point, Radford, UNC Asheville and Winthrop).

Looking Back
Liberty set records at both the Virginia Challenge and Duke Invitational a year ago. Kimone Green clocked a program-record women's 400 hurdles time of 59.12 at UVA, while Brenna Smith took down the school, facility and meet records with her 161-7 javelin heave at Duke.

Alejandro Perlaza Zapata also posted a victory in a competitive Virginia Challenge men's 400 in 2018.

Conference Clashes
The Virginia Challenge will feature a number of potential ASUN Championship previews between Liberty and Kennesaw State competitors.

Women's 800 – Liberty's Delaney McDowell is coming off a personal-best and conference-leading 2:06.70 clocking at the Tennessee Relays, while teammate Tanner Ealum will run her first 800 of the season after winning the 2018 Big South outdoor title. They will face talented Kennesaw State freshmen Brenda Ayuk and Sarah Hendrick, both of whom have clocked times of 2:10 or faster in 2019. McDowell placed second and Ayuk was third in the 2019 ASUN indoor 800 final.

Women's Heptathlon – Lady Flames senior Kylie Polsgrove scored a career-best 5,333 points during last week's Tennessee Relays heptathlon. This week, she will try to improve upon that score amongst a field which includes Kennesaw State All-American Jordan Gray. Gray's younger sister Jamie Gray will make her collegiate heptathlon debut for the Lady Flames.

Men's 100 & 200 – Elijah Pierson tops the ASUN list with times of 10.64 (100) and 21.25 (200) during his first season with the Flames. This weekend, he will meet Kennesaw State's Cameron Bolden, who has swept the ASUN men's 100 and 200 titles in both 2017 and 2018. Pierson will also face the trio of Owls who currently rank No. 2, 3 and 4 on the conference 100 and 200 charts, Omar Diaz, Aaron Goodwin and Jordan Hewing.

Men's Pole Vault – Four of the five ASUN pole vaulters who have cleared 15 feet this season are entered in the Virginia Challenge, including Liberty's Anders Janes (16-7.5), Kennesaw State's Brenton Rosa (16-6.75), Liberty's Reilly Stroot (15-3) and Kennesaw State's Scott Simpson (15-1).

Men's Shot Put – Saturday's competition includes the current ASUN leader (Liberty's Kyle Mitchell) and the defending indoor (Liberty's Jose Ballivian) and outdoor (Kennesaw State's Tyler Blalock) conference champions. All three have thrown over 58 feet this season and likely qualified for the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet.

Among the Nation's Best
Nine Liberty athletes rank among the nation's top 50 performers in their respective events, topped by senior Alejandro Perlaza Zapata's No. 6 ranking in the men's 400.

No. 6 – Alejandro Perlaza Zapata – Men's 400 – 45.79
No. 12 – Kylie Polsgrove – Women's Heptathlon – 5,333
No. 21 – Denzel Pratt – Men's Javelin – 227-1
No. 22 – Chelsea Igberaese – Women's Discus – 179-6
No. 34 – Naomi Mojica – Women's Shot Put – 52-3.75
No. 36 – Noel Palmer – Women's 10K – 33:56.67
No. 39 – Azaria Kirwa – Men's 5K – 14:04.70
No. 40 – Delaney McDowell – Women's 800 – 2:06.70
No. 49 – Kyle Mitchell – Men's Shot Put – 59-2.75

Atop the ASUN
Less than a month before the 2019 ASUN Outdoor Track & Field Championships (May 10-11), Liberty athletes rank No. 1 in the ASUN Conference in 19 different events.

Men's 100 – Elijah Pierson (10.64)
Men's 200 – Elijah Pierson (21.25)
Men's 400 – Alejandro Perlaza Zapata (45.79)
Men's 4 x 400 – Durham, Todd, Perlaza Zapata, Smalley (3:12.20)
Men's Pole Vault – Anders Janes (16-7.5)
Men's Shot Put – Kyle Mitchell (59-2.75)
Men's Discus – Jose Ballivian (173-10)
Men's Javelin – Denzel Pratt (227-1)

Women's 800 – Delaney McDowell (2:06.70)
Women's 1,500 – Delaney McDowell (4:29.99)
Women's 10K – Noel Palmer (33:56.67)
Women's 400 Hurdles – Kylie Polsgrove (1:01.09)
Women's 4 x 400 – Ealum, Dansbury, McDowell, Dowling (3:38.67)
Women's Triple Jump – Adrianna Mitchell (40-9)
Women's Shot Put – Naomi Mojica (52-3.75)
Women's Discus – Chelsea Igberaese (179-6)
Women's Hammer – Chelsea Igberaese (181-7)
Women's Javelin – Paige Demetriades (134-1)
Women's Heptathlon – Kylie Polsgrove (5,333)

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, 10 Liberty athletes 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
Anders Janes – Men's Pole Vault
Azaria Kirwa – Men's 5K
Kyle Mitchell – Men's Shot Put
Alejandro Perlaza Zapata – Men's 400
Denzel Pratt – Men's Javelin

Chelsea Igberaese – Women's Discus
Delaney McDowell – Women's 800
Naomi Mojica – Women's Shot Put
Noel Palmer – Women's 10K

Up Next
Liberty will return to Lannigan Field next weekend for the Virginia Grand Prix, with events slated for April 26-27.