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Liberty to Kick Off Track Season on Friday

December 2, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Geren Woodbridge (center) and Jacob DeValve (far left) will be two of Liberty's featured competitors in the heptathlon at the season-opening Liberty Kickoff.

Geren Woodbridge (center) and Jacob DeValve (far left) will be two of Liberty's featured competitors in the heptathlon at the season-opening Liberty Kickoff.

Meet Schedule (PDF format)

Performance List

Liberty's defending Big South Conference champion men's and women's indoor track & field teams will open up the 2010-11 campaign Friday and Saturday, hosting the seventh annual Liberty Kickoff at the Tolsma Indoor Track Center.

The first of three home meets on this year's indoor track schedule will feature a strong Commonwealth flavor, with Liberty set to face off against athletes from James Madison, Radford, Richmond, Virginia and Virginia Tech, among other programs.

Things will officially get underway Friday at 2 p.m., with the start of the men's heptathlon 60-meter dash. Saturday's full day of activity will commence at 9 a.m., when the men's weight throw begins. The day's first running event will be the prelims of the women's 60-meter hurdles, slated for an 11 a.m. start. A full meet schedule may be found at the bottom of this release.

Big South Champions are Back
Last year, the Liberty men's indoor track team won its unprecedented 13th straight Big South title, while the Lady Flames captured their first conference championship since 2005. This year's squads return 15 individuals (nine men and six women) who have claimed Big South individual titles during their careers.

Of those 15 Big South champions, 10 will be in action this weekend. The list (with their Liberty Kickoff events in parentheses) includes Cody Fridgen (heptathlon, 4 x 400 relay), Elliot Galeone (shot put, weight throw), Clarence Powell (high jump, long jump, triple jump, 4 x 400 relay), Kolby Shepherd (pole vault) and Geren Woodbridge (heptathlon) on the men's side and Mia Aghaji (long jump, triple jump, 4 x 400 relay), Meghan Burggraf (mile, 4 x 400 relay), Jennifer Klugh (5K), Krystle Matthews (pentathlon, 4 x 400 relay) and Christina Mitchell (pentathlon, 4 x 400 relay) among the Lady Flames. (Shepherd will compete unattached.)

See You Next Year
The Liberty Kickoff is Liberty's only scheduled meet in 2010. The Flames and Lady Flames will resume the indoor season, after an extended break, at the Hokie Invitational in Blacksburg, Va., Jan. 21 and 22, 2011. Liberty's next home meet will be the Liberty Open, slated for Jan. 28 and 29.

10 Events You Won't Want to Miss
Listed in chronological order

Friday, 2 p.m. – Men's heptathlon – Liberty has traditionally gotten its multi-event athletes off to a strong start at the Liberty Kickoff, winning the heptathlon five out of the last six years. The Flames have a talented group entered in this year's competition, led by defending meet champion Woodbridge. The redshirt senior team captain went on to claim his second straight Big South heptathlon crown last season. He will be complemented by redshirt freshman Jacob DeValve and transfer Taylor Schmidt, both making their Liberty debuts. Fridgen, the 2010 Big South outdoor pole vault champion, will contest a multi event for the first time.

Friday, 5:30 p.m. – Men's 5K – After competing in the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships last Monday, Sam Chelanga and Evans Kigen will sit out this weekend. However, the men's 5K still promises an intriguing, high-quality matchup between the Flames' Josh Edmonds and Richmond's Andrew Benford. In what could be his final home race in a Liberty uniform, Edmonds will look to build upon a strong cross country season which included a third-place Big South finish and a 15th-place regional showing. Meanwhile, Benford finished just ahead of Edmonds at the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Cross Country Championships in 10th place, helping the Spiders qualify to the national meet as a team.

Friday, 5:50 p.m. – Women's 5K – For the second consecutive season, Klugh will look to parlay cross country success into a strong season-opening 5K on the track. Last year, Klugh won the Liberty Kickoff 5K in a personal-best time of 17:54.44. This year, the Buckeye State native is coming off a breakout cross country season which included a Big South individual title and an all-region performance. Klugh will be pushed in the race by teammate Dacia Bushman, who came in third at the Big South Cross Country Championships.

Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – Women's Pole Vault – As usual, Virginia Tech is bringing a strong pole vault crew to the Tolsma Indoor Track Center. Elizabeth Powell will make her collegiate debut for the Hokies, after clearing a Virginia state-record 13-3 in high school. Virginia Tech's Emma DeJarnette is also entered, after vaulting 12-3.5 as a freshman. The Lady Flames will be led by sophomore Shelley Parker. Last season, she reached 11-8 while earning All-Big South honors both indoors and outdoors.

Saturday, 12:35 p.m. – Women's 60 final – The day's second running event final will be one to keep an eye on. James Madison's Marissa McDonald returns to defend her title from 2009, but will be tested by post-collegiate athletes Felicia Fant and Vanneisha Ivy. Fant owns the facility record in the 200 (24.70) and won this event at the 2007 Liberty Kickoff. Ivy was an All-American hurdler during her career at North Carolina. Alyssa Pegues, the fifth-place finisher at the 2010 Big South Indoor Track & field Championships in the 60-meter dash final, carries Liberty's top hopes.

Saturday, 12:55 p.m. – Women's 60 hurdles final – The women's 60-meter hurdles will match up a pair of talented returnees against some highly touted newcomers. Virginia's Ayla Smith owns school records in both the 60 hurdles (8.39) and 100 hurdles (13.51), while Liberty's Olivia Charnuski ran a 13.65 in 2010 to set the Lady Flames' 100 hurdles record. They will face freshmen Amber Church and Courtni Pannell of Radford, as well as Molly Reilly of Richmond.

Saturday, 1 p.m. – Women's high jump – Virginia has entered a trio of high jumpers (Pearl Bickersteth, Janelle Clayton and Emily Kianka) who have each cleared 5-8.5 or higher. Kianka went over 5-11 in high school, which is superior to the facility record of 5-10.75. Liberty's top entrants are senior Marianne Wheeler and freshman Kristen Willeford.

Saturday, 1:25 p.m. – Men's 400 – The men's 400-meter dash features a trio of talented post-collegiate athletes. Levi Brooks won the last three Big South indoor 400-meter titles for Charleston Southern, while Raschad Kelso placed fourth in last year's Big South indoor 400 final for Radford. Meanwhile, Calesio Newman qualified for the 2010 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the 100, 200 and 4 x 400 as a senior at North Carolina A&T. The top collegiate entrants include Evan Ellison of Lynchburg College and Liberty sophomore Andre Washington. Ellison is the reigning ODAC 55 and 200-meter dash champion, claiming those titles at the Tolsma Indoor Track Center. Washington posted an impressive 48.14 outdoor 400-meter dash time on two occasions as a freshman.

Saturday, 2:30 p.m. – Men's pole vault – As in the women's event, Virginia Tech is expected to make a strong showing in the men's pole vault. Jared Jodon finished seventh at the 2010 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, while teammate Hunter Hall has also vaulted at the national meet. Four-time Big South pole vault champion Shepherd boosted his personal best to 17-0.75 while redshirting the 2010 outdoor season.

Saturday, 3 p.m. – Men's high jump – The final field event to get underway, the men's high jump, boasts a small but top-notch field of competitors. Powell has won the high jump at the 2007 and 2009 Liberty Kickoff meets, but will be challenged to add a third title. The field of competitors includes Hoova Taylor, who won the 2010 NCAA Division II outdoor men's high jump national championship for Virginia State, and St. Paul's College's Maurice Hall, who placed 10th at the same meet. Radford's Tony Brown, the 2010 Big South indoor and outdoor high jump runner-up, is also entered.

2010 Liberty Kickoff Time Schedule
Friday, December 3

2 p.m. – Men's heptathlon 60
2:15 p.m. – Women's pentathlon 60 hurdles
2:30 p.m. – Men's heptathlon long jump
2:50 p.m. – Women's pentathlon high jump
3:40 p.m. – Men's heptathlon shot put
4:45 p.m. – Women's pentathlon shot put
4:45 p.m. – Men's heptathlon high jump
5:30 p.m. – Men's 5K
5:45 p.m. – Women's pentathlon long jump
5:50 p.m. – Women's 5K
6:45 p.m. – Women's pentathlon 800

Saturday, December 4
9 a.m. – Men's weight throw
9:30 a.m. – Women's triple jump
9:30 a.m. – Women's pole vault
9:30 a.m. – Men's long jump
10:30 a.m. – Women's weight throw
11 a.m. – Women's 60 hurdles prelims
11:10 a.m. – Men's 60 hurdles prelims
11:20 a.m. – Men's heptathlon 60 hurdles
11:35 a.m. – Men's 60 prelims
Noon – Women's 60 prelims
12:15 p.m. – Men's heptathlon pole vault
12:30 p.m. – Men's 60 final
12:35 p.m. – Women's 60 final
12:45 p.m. – Men's 60 hurdles final
12:45 p.m. – Men's shot put
12:55 p.m. – Women's 60 hurdles final
1 p.m. – Women's long jump
1 p.m. – Women's high jump
1 p.m. – Men's triple jump
1:05 p.m. – Men's mile
1:15 p.m. – Women's mile
1:25 p.m. – Men's 400
1:55 p.m. – Women's 400
2:25 p.m. – Men's 800
2:30 p.m. – Women's shot put
2:30 p.m. – Men's pole vault
2:40 p.m. – Women's 800
2:50 p.m. – Men's 200
3 p.m. – Men's high jump
3:25 p.m. – Women's 200
4 p.m. – Men's 3K
4:15 p.m. – Women's 3K
4:30 p.m. – Men's 4 x 400 relay
4:45 p.m. – Women's 4 x 400 relay
TBA – Men's heptathlon 1,000