The Liberty men's indoor track & field team celebrates its third consecutive ASUN title.
For the third consecutive year, the Liberty men's squad claimed the team championship on its home track at the 2021 ASUN Indoor Track & Field Championships. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames finished second, just five points behind women's team champion Kennesaw State, at the two-day meet which wrapped up Saturday at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex.
Liberty finished with a 63-point margin of victory (236-173) over runner-up Kennesaw State in the final men's team standings, as first-year Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Lance Bingham earned his first conference title with the Flames. As a result, he was duly honored as ASUN Men's Coach of the Year.
The Flames have now won 24 consecutive indoor conference titles overall, dating back to the inaugural Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships in 1998. That is the longest active championship streak in NCAA Division I men's indoor track & field.
On the women's side, Kennesaw State led Liberty by a single point heading to the 4 x 400 relay before pulling out victory in both the event and the final team standings (223-218). KSU's team victory came by the smallest margin in the meet's 16-year history. The Owls became the first visiting team ever to win a track & field conference title against the Flames in Lynchburg.
Liberty won 10 events on Saturday and 16 of 34 total events contested over the course of the two-day competition. Athletes who combined for three of the Flames' victories picked up individual honors at the meet's conclusion.
Abby Pantlitz became the Lady Flames' first-ever ASUN Most Valuable Female Performer after pacing all women's competitors with 21.5 points. The sophomore swept the women's 60 (7.55) and 200 dash (24.53) titles before leading off for the third-place 4 x 400 relay quartet (3:52.57).
Another sophomore, Quinten Clay, shared the ASUN Most Valuable Male Performer award with Lipscomb's Jonathan Schwind. Both athletes earned 22 points, with Clay's tallies coming in the men's long jump (first place, 23-7.5), high jump (third place, 6-7) and triple jump (third place, 47-3.5).
Men's Day Two Recap Heptathletes Anthony Bryan and Cole Peterlin played a role in two key events for the Flames on Saturday. They set the tone for Liberty's impressive day by finishing 1-2 in the heptathlon competition. Bryan became the Flames' third different ASUN heptathlon champion in as many years with 4,921 points, while Peterlin scored a personal-best 4,817. At a school with a rich history of multi-event success, Bryan is Liberty's first freshman ever to win a conference heptathlon title.
Just over an hour after the heptathlon wrapped up, Liberty broke the men's team competition open with a 1-2-3-4 finish in the men's 60 hurdles final. Felix Lawrence won with a season-best 7.99 clocking, followed in succession by teammates Juan Pablo Germain Ronco (8.04), Bryan (8.33) and Peterlin (8.37). The Flames' lead was never seriously challenged the rest of the way.
Christian Lyon successfully defended his ASUN men's 60 title from 2020, matching his season-best time of 6.77 during Saturday's final. He becomes the Flames' first back-to-back conference champion in the men's 60 since Jeremy Wagner in 1999 and 2000 (Big South). Lyon later finished second in the 200 with a season-best 21.13 clocking.
Sophomore John Hicks also won his event, the men's weight throw, for the second straight season. His personal-best 62-7.75 heave topped runner-up Tyler Blalock of Kennesaw State by more than three feet.
In one of the day's tightest finishes, Felix Kandie edged Bellarmine's Reid Masterson by four hundredths of a second to claim the men's 5K title in 14:39.20.
Ally Kipchirchir broke the Liberty men's 800 record for the second meet in a row with his 1:50.40 clocking for second place. He also bettered the previous meet record but was defeated by Lipscomb's Schwind, who claimed his third straight title in the event in 1:49.72.
Women's Day Two Recap The Lady Flames set the stage for a championship-deciding 4 x 400 relay with a gritty late-meet charge to close the deficit against Kennesaw State.
Taking advantage of a bye weekend for the volleyball team, Abby Phillips made a timely 2021 indoor track season debut on Saturday. She high jumped 5-5.75 to finish as the ASUN runner-up for the second straight year.
Shortly thereafter, another Abby (Pantlitz) outdueled Kennesaw State's Louise Tocays down the final straightaway to win the 200, 24.53 to 24.63. In the process, Pantlitz completed the Lady Flames' first women's 60/200 sweep at a conference meet since Abigail Flower at the 2015 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships.
The next event (5K) saw Liberty get the upper hand on the Owls during another stirring finish. In a possible preview of Friday's ASUN Cross Country Championships, Liberty redshirt freshman Adelyn Ackley held off Kennesaw State senior Lindsay Billings by less than a second to post a much-needed 5K victory in 16:25.24. That time took down both the meet and Liberty freshman records.
Behind Ackley, Priscillah Kiplagat (third, 17:05.30), Noel Palmer (fifth, 17:11.14) and Emma Bower (sixth, 17:12.24) all scored points of their own, making it a 19-point event for the Lady Flames and cutting KSU's lead to 213-212 heading to the 4 x 400.
In the 4 x 400, Liberty's team of Pantlitz, Nikayla Hoyte, Megan Hinzman and Nimeesha Coleman raced to a season-best time of 3:52.57. But the Lady Flames could not catch Kennesaw State (3:45.39) and ended up third in the meet's final event.
Pantlitz started her busy day by winning the women's 60 dash in a personal-best 7.55 seconds. Teammate Ayanna Johnson, who had been the improbable women's long jump winner on Friday, continued her breakthrough meet with a lifetime-best 7.66 for second to Pantlitz.
After anchoring the Lady Flames' distance medley relay squad to victory on Friday, Calli Doan claimed her second straight ASUN women's mile title in dominating fashion on Saturday. Her winning time of 4:45.84 defeated runner-up Sydney Liddle of Lipscomb by seven seconds and ranks No. 2 to 2002 NCAA national champion Heather Sagan on Liberty's all-time mile list.
Redshirt junior Chelsea Igberaese completed the Lady Flames' sweep of the women's throwing event titles this weekend by securing her second career ASUN women's weight throw crown. Igberaese broke the 20-meter barrier for the first time in her career to win at 65-8.75.
Final Women's Team Scores 1) Kennesaw State – 223 2) Liberty – 218 3) Lipscomb – 60 4) Bellarmine – 20
Final Men's Team Scores 1) Liberty – 236 2) Kennesaw State – 173 3) Lipscomb – 82 4) Bellarmine – 25
Most Valuable Female Performer Abby Pantlitz, Liberty
Most Valuable Male Performer Quinten Clay, Liberty Jonathan Schwind, Lipscomb
Women's Coach of the Year Cale McDaniel, Kennesaw State
Men's Coach of the Year Lance Bingham, Liberty
Women's ASUN Champions (Day 2) Adelyn Ackley – 5K – 16:25.24 Calli Doan – Mile – 4:45.84 Chelsea Igberaese – Weight Throw – 65-8.75 Abby Pantlitz – 60 – 7.55 Abby Pantlitz – 200 – 24.53
Men's ASUN Champions (Day 2) Anthony Bryan – Heptathlon – 4,921 John Hicks – Weight Throw – 62-7.75 Felix Kandie – 5K – 14:39.20 Felix Lawrence – 60 Hurdles – 7.99 Christian Lyon – 60 – 6.77
Other Women's Top 3 Finishers (Day 2) 2nd – Naomi Armstrong – 800 – 2:10.53 2nd – Ayanna Johnson – 60 – 7.66 2nd – Lizbeth Joseph – Triple Jump – 40-4.75 2nd – Abby Phillips – High Jump – 5-5.75 3rd – Naomi Armstrong – Pole Vault – 11-2.25 3rd – Amani Hankton – 60 Hurdles – 8.85 3rd – Priscillah Kiplagat – 5K – 17:05.30 3rd – Naomi Mojica – Weight Throw – 61-0.75 3rd – Abby Pantlitz, Nikayla Hoyte, Megan Hinzman, Nimeesha Coleman – 4 x 400 Relay – 3:52.57
Other Men's Top 3 Finishers (Day 2) 2nd – Juan Pablo Germain Ronco – 60 Hurdles – 8.04 2nd – Ally Kipchirchir – 800 – 1:50.40 2nd – Christian Lyon – 200 – 21.13 2nd – Cole Peterlin – Heptathlon – 4,817 2nd – Michael Rose – 400 – 48.57 3rd – Anthony Bryan – 60 Hurdles – 8.33 3rd – Quinten Clay – Triple Jump – 47-3.5 3rd – Ryan Drew – Mile – 4:10.77 3rd – Stuart Folkerts – Weight Throw – 57-7 3rd – Diamantae Griffin – 60 – 6.79
Women's Record Breakers (Day 2) Meet Record – 5K – Adelyn Ackley – 16:25.24 Previous Record: 16:32.53 by Eden Meyer of North Florida in 2017
Liberty Freshman Record – 5K – Adelyn Ackley – 16:25.24 Previous Record: 16:28.29 by Ednah Kurgat on Feb. 6, 2015 at Penn State
Men's Record Breakers (Day 2) School Record – 800 – Ally Kipchirchir – 1:50.40 Previous Record: 1:50.52 by Kipchirchir at the Darius Dixon Memorial Invitational on Feb. 13
Updates to Liberty's All-Time Women's Top 10 List (Day 2) Mile – No. 2 – Calli Doan – 4:45.84 5K – No. 2 – Adelyn Ackley – 16:25.24 Weight Throw – No. 3 – Chelsea Igberaese – 65-8.75 60 – No. 4 – Abby Pantlitz – 7.55 Triple Jump – No. 5 – Lizbeth Joseph – 40-4.75 800 – Tie for No. 5 – Naomi Armstrong – 2:10.53 Weight Throw – No. 6 – Naomi Mojica – 61-0.75 200 – No. 7 – Abby Pantlitz – 24.53 5K – No. 8 – Priscillah Kiplagat – 17:05.30 60 – Tie for No. 8 – Ayanna Johnson – 7.66 Weight Throw – No. 9 – Grace Artis – 57-4.75
Updates to Liberty's All-Time Men's Top 10 List (Day 2) 800 – No. 1 – Ally Kipchirchir – 1:50.40 60 – Tie for No. 3 – Diamantae Griffin – 6.79 Weight Throw – No. 7 – John Hicks – 62-7.75 Weight Throw – No. 9 – Stuart Folkerts – 57-7
Up Next With its 2021 indoor track & field season now complete, Liberty will now turn its attention to the outdoor campaign. The Flames and Lady Flames are currently scheduled to open the 2021 outdoor season at the Alan Connie Shamrock Invitational, March 19-20 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.