Mia Aghaji, pictured here high jumping, recorded a 40-0.75 triple jump on Saturday to break her own outdoor school record.
The weather was unseasonably cool on Saturday at Paul Derr Track, but it did not prevent numerous Liberty men's and women's track & field athletes from recording impressive marks at the Raleigh Relays. Leading the way was redshirt junior Mia Aghaji, who triple jumped 40-0.75 to break her own school outdoor triple jump record.
Women's Meet Recap Aghaji wasted little time in rewriting the Liberty record books as a freshman. In her very first outdoor meet, on March 15, 2008, she set Liberty's outdoor women's triple jump record at 39-9.75. However, she had not improved upon that mark until Saturday. Aghaji's second jump of the competition saw her sail 40-0.75, making the Commonwealth native only the second Lady Flame ever to eclipse the 40-foot barrier. Jonisha Saunders triple jumped 40-7.75 during an indoor meet at Virginia Tech in 2003. The impressive leap earned a fourth-place finish for Aghaji in a field of 26 women's triple jumpers. The Lady Flames were also able to showcase their strength and depth in the 1,500-meter run on Saturday. Jennifer Klugh led the way with an ECAC-qualifying time of 4:30.37, claiming fourth place overall. It was eight seconds faster than Klugh ran at the same race during the 2010 Raleigh Relays. Hailey Neal also made a significant improvement from her 2010 Raleigh Relays effort, cutting her time by six seconds to a personal-best 4:36.09. She placed 12th in the event and claimed the No. 10 spot in program history. Also notching personal-best times in the event was the trio of Betel Yosef (4:49.84), Rod'Esther Castor (4:53.68) and Katie Russo (4:55.18). Remaining on the track, the quartet of Melanie Sims, Kiara Bridges, Olivia Charnuski and Alyssa Pegues came in sixth in the 4 x 100 relay, crossing the finish line in 47.30 seconds. As was the case with the men's pole vaulters on Friday, many of the top women's pole vaulters struggled to clear their opening heights on Saturday. However, Shelley Parker got over her opening height, 11-5.75, on the first try, ending up third in Section I. In the javelin, Christina Mitchell improved her personal-best distance to 134-8, tallying a seventh-place finish in the event. Liberty would have posted a second school record if Melinda Bendik was not redshirting the 2011 outdoor season. However, her 186-8 toss in the hammer competition will not count as a Liberty record because she competed unattached. In the same event, steadily improving freshman Jocelyn Williams added more than six feet to her personal best, topping out at 148-0 for 14th place.
Men's Meet Recap For the third year in a row, Elliot Galeone finished as the runner-up in the Raleigh Relays javelin competition. His best throw of the day, 218-5, actually equaled that of Wake Forest's Ben Lincoln. However, Galeone was awarded second place because his second-longest throw (217-8) was superior to that of Lincoln (214-3). Geren Woodbridge made it two Flames within the javelin's top 10 finishers. His 179-10 heave netted ninth place in the final standings. Isaac Wendland joined in on Liberty's successful day at the 1,500-meter distance with a personal-best 3:51.88 clocking for third place. The time, which was seven seconds faster than his previous best, ranks him No. 8 on Liberty's all-time performance list. Freshman Jarred Cornfield joined Wendland in the sub-4:00 club on Saturday, finishing his 1,500-meter race in 3:58.43. Fellow freshman Josh MacDonald posted a sixth-place finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, thanks to a personal-best 9:20.54 effort. Ryan Smith was the Flames' final top 10 finisher on Saturday, throwing the hammer 173-6 for 10th place.
Liberty will now prepare for its first of two home meets during the 2011 outdoor season, the Liberty Collegiate Invitational. The two-day meet will begin Friday at 1 p.m. at the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex.