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6th Annual Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational to Begin Friday

February 12, 2020  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Darius Dixon

Darius Dixon

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The sixth annual Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational, featuring a field of 19 NCAA Division I teams, will take place Friday and Saturday inside the Liberty Indoor Track Complex.

The men's weight throw will get things started Friday at 3 p.m. Meanwhile, Saturday's schedule will begin at 10 a.m. with a trio of field events – the women's pole vault, women's long jump and men's long jump. Admission is free of charge to all spectators.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results will be available throughout the Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational, 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 welcome a pair of Power Five squads to Lynchburg this weekend in Maryland and Wake Forest. The Flames and Lady Flames will also face a number of opponents from their former conference, the Big South, including Campbell, Hampton, High Point, Longwood and Radford.

Remembering Darius
Darius Dixon, a promising freshman sprinter from Western Branch High School in Chesapeake, Va., opened his Liberty track & field career by competing in the 200 and 400-meter dash events at the Liberty Kickoff on Dec. 5, 2013. Two days later, he was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 18.

In his memory, Liberty will hold a Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational meet for the sixth straight year. The inaugural Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational was contested on Dec. 3-4, 2014 at the Tolsma Indoor Track Center.

A special recognition ceremony and the national anthem will take place on Saturday at 12:350 p.m., directly prior to Dixon's signature event, the 400-meter dash.

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 girls' 500 dash and 3K race walk at the Virginia Showcase, Jan. 17-19.

The Flames will host four meets at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex this season, with the 2020 ASUN Indoor Track & Field Championships (Feb. 28-29) still to come.

The 2020 NJCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships will also take place at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex, March 6-7.

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.

Looking Back at Last Year
Liberty won six events at the 2019 Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational, headlined by the record-breaking women's shuttle hurdles relay quartet of Tiffany Jeffcoat, Katie Dodson, Kylie Polsgrove and Jaiden Mulder.

Patria Vaimaona (weight throw) and Naomi Mojica (shot put) swept the women's throwing events. Freshmen accounted for the Flames' other three victories, including Anders Jane (men's open pole vault), Felix Kandie (men's 3K) and Naomi (Bowser) Armstrong (women's 1,000).

Blink and You'll Miss It
In a meet named for a sprinter, speed will be on full display during this weekend's meet. Here are a few of the events to watch, listed chronologically.

Saturday, 11:35 a.m. – Men's 60 Hurdles Final – This event features the top three men's 60 hurdlers in Liberty history, in Jovaine Atkinson (7.64), Juan Pablo Germain Ronco (8.01) and Felix Lawrence (8.04). Atkinson will look to improve his No. 12 national ranking in the event. Other competitors to watch include the 2019 IC4A 110 hurdles champion (Navy's Clayton Thompson) and the 2019 Atlantic 10 60 hurdles champion (VCU's Ian Davis). The facility (Atkinson's 7.71 from 2018) and meet records (7.84) are both in play.

Saturday, 1 p.m. – Women's 400 – Liberty senior Cortney Strohman has clocked the ASUN Conference's fastest 400 time this season (55.06). She may need to run faster than that to win her second Darius Dixon 400 title in the last three years. Francena McCorory, a gold medalist in the 2012 4 x 400 relay, also appears on the entry list, as do the defending Conference USA (Charlotte's Maya Singletary) and Big South (Hampton's Jaelan Leonard) outdoor 400 titlists. This is another event where the meet record (54.58) may be in danger.

Saturday, 1:55 p.m. – Women's 800 – Liberty's Tanner Ealum clocked an indoor personal-best 800 time of 2:07.12 at last week's South Carolina Invitational, a mark which currently ranks No. 18 nationally. On Saturday, she will clash with Norfolk State's Martha Bissah, who sits No. 8 in the nation with a season best of 2:05.38. The meet (2:11.86), facility (2:07.15) and perhaps even the Liberty program records (2:05.42) could be challenged.

Saturday, 2:30 p.m. – Men's 200 – The Flames' Christian Lyon has been improving each time he has run the 200 this season, going from 21.12 to 21.08 to a school-record 21.03. On Saturday, he will look to take down the facility record (21.03) and improve his No. 20 national ranking in the one-lap event. He will rematch with Nigerian Olympic contender Chidi Okezie after edging Okezie 21.12 to 21.13 at the Liberty Kickoff on Jan. 25. Charlotte's Jayon Woodard is also back to defend his title from the 2019 Darius Dixon meet. Although Woodard is more of a 400-meter specialist, he owns an outdoor 200 personal best of 20.95.

Among the Nation's Best
The Flames and Lady Flames have posted some nationally elite marks thus far this season. The following athletes currently rank inside the NCAA Division I top 50 for their respective events. The top 16 declared athletes in each event will be invited to compete at the 2020 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships in March.

No. 12 – Men's 60 Hurdles – Jovaine Atkinson – 7.75
No. 18 – Women's 800 – Tanner Ealum – 2:07.12
No. 20 – Men's 200 – Christian Lyon – 21.03
No. 34 – Men's Shot Put – Kyle Mitchell – 61-3
No. 47 – Women's Triple Jump – Makenzy Mizera – 41-3.75

Atop the ASUN
With one final weekend remaining to tune up for the ASUN Indoor Track & Field Championships, Liberty ranks No. 1 in the ASUN Conference in 12 different events, including seven men's events and five women's disciplines.

Men's 60 – Christian Lyon – 6.75
Men's 200 – Christian Lyon – 21.03
Men's 4 x 400 Relay – Lyon, Durham, Smalley, Lawrence – 3:13.30
Men's High Jump – Quinten Clay – 6-8.75 (tied for No. 1 with Kennesaw State's Sultan Simms)
Men's Shot Put – Kyle Mitchell – 61-3
Men's Weight Throw – John Hicks – 57-0.25
Men's Heptathlon – Zach Wendt – 4,379

Women's 400 – Cortney Strohman – 55.06
Women's 5K – Noel Palmer – 17:09.27
Women's Distance Medley Relay – Stocki, McDermott, Leone, Sorg – 12:53.47
Women's Long Jump – Makenzy Mizera – 19-4.75
Women's Shot Put – Naomi Mojica – 49-3.75

Up Next
Liberty will take a weekend off from competition in preparation for the 2020 ASUN Indoor Track & Field Championships. For the third straight year, the meet will take place at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex with events scheduled for Feb. 28 and 29. Liberty swept the men's and women's team titles during its inaugural ASUN Indoor Track & Field Championships in 2019.