Evans Kigen became Liberty's first IC4A steeplechase winner since 1998, Friday evening.
Day 1 Blog After a thunderstorm delay, Friday evening at the IC4A/ECAC Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Liberty made an impressive showing in the distance events under the lights at Princeton's Weaver Track & Field Stadium. Sam Chelanga won the men's 5K, Evans Kigen won the men's steeplechase and Ashley Osborne broke her own school record in the women's 5K, providing a trio of major highlights. Chelanga and Kigen helped Liberty take the lead in the IC4A team standings, at the conclusion of Friday's three events. The Flames tallied 23 points, putting them one ahead of Duke, which ended up the evening with 22 markers. On the women's side, Osborne earned runner-up honors with her stellar effort, giving Liberty eight points. The Lady Flames rank eighth in the ECAC through four events, while Providence currently owns first place with 18 points. The Friars are one point ahead of both Princeton and William & Mary through the meet's early stages.
Men's IC4A Meet Recap Kigen got Liberty off to a fast start in the distance portion of the meet, becoming Liberty's first IC4A steeplechase champion since Chris McGregor in 1998. The redshirt junior, who previously captured the IC4A indoor 5K title this year, took the lead with two laps to go and never relinquished it. His winning time was 8:50.75 in his first of two distance races Friday night. About an hour and a half after crossing the finish line in the steeplechase, Kigen joined Chelanga in the 5K. Chelanga led from wire to wire, becoming Liberty's first-ever back-to-back IC4A outdoor 5K champion. His official clocking of 13:54.82 in his outdoor 5K season debut gave him more than an eight-second cushion over runner-up Kyle Merber of Columbia. The effort also secured Chelanga a berth in the NCAA Division I Preliminary Round meet. Meanwhile, Kigen established a new outdoor 5K personal-best time of 14:06.90, on his way to sixth place. He contributed a total of 13 team points to Liberty's total during his 8,000 meters of running on the soggy track. Geren Woodbridge, the 2009 IC4A decathlon runner-up, sits in sixth place after posting his best-ever day one decathlon score—3,614. The redshirt junior's five Friday disciplines were highlighted by the long jump. Aided by a 3.3 m/s tailwind on his third and final attempt, Woodbridge added more than a foot to his previous personal best, landing at 22-6.5.
Women's ECAC Meet Recap Osborne had held the Liberty women's outdoor 5K record at 16:42.79, ever since posting that time at the 2007 Penn Relays. The redshirt senior trimmed nearly 12 seconds off of that mark Friday, taking second place in 16:31.00. It is Osborne's second school record in two weeks, after clocking a 34:00.60 in the 10K at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational on May 1. Both Christina Mitchell and Krystle Matthews are in position to score points in the ECAC heptathlon, through Friday's quartet of events. Mitchell notched her best-ever day one score, 2,835, putting her in seventh place, just nine points ahead of Matthews in the eighth spot. Mitchell ran the 100-meter hurdles in a personal-best 15.06 seconds and high jumped a very solid 5-4.5, getting her day off to a strong start. Meanwhile, Matthews was the fastest heptathlete in the 100 hurdles, notching a personal best of her own at 14.52. She later threw her best-ever shot put in a heptathlon, 32-1.5. Melinda Bendik and Hailey Neal also competed for the Lady Flames on the meet's opening day. Bendik had her preparation for the ECAC discus interrupted by the lengthy storm delay, which stretched from about 6:35 until 8 p.m. When the junior finally got to throw, she reached 129-0 for 19th place. Neal, whose heat of the 3,000-meter steeplechase was the first race on the track after action resumed, ran an 11:13.72 to take 24th place.
Action will resume bright and early Saturday morning, when the IC4A decathlon picks back up at 9 a.m. with the 110-meter hurdles. Thirty minutes later, the ECAC heptathletes will begin the long jump.