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Drake Relays, Radford Next for Liberty Track

April 26, 2011  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Isaac Wendland will run the men's 800 in his home state of Iowa at the prestigious Drake Relays.

Isaac Wendland will run the men's 800 in his home state of Iowa at the prestigious Drake Relays.

Drake Relays Live Video Streaming (Friday Only)

Drake Relays Live Results

Drake Relays Coverage on Flotrack

Drake Relays Start Lists

Drake Relays Schedule

Radford Invitational Schedule

Des Moines Weather

Radford Weather

Coming off of a successful performance at the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships, the Liberty men's and women's track & field teams will compete at two different meets this weekend. Five athletes will travel to Des Moines, Iowa for the prestigious Drake Relays. Meanwhile, other Flames and Lady Flames are entered in the Radford Invitational in Radford, Va.
How to Follow the Flames
Live video streaming coverage of Friday's Drake Relays action will be available on

Live results will be available throughout the Drake Relays.

Finally, Flotrack will be on hand in Des Moines and will provide Drake Relays highlights, interviews and analysis on its website.

Weather Report
Iowa natives Dacia Bushman and Isaac Wendland will compete in the Drake Relays on Thursday. The temperature (high of 65 degrees) should be pleasant for their events, but it will also be windy with the chance of some light rain later in the day.

Friday's weather in Des Moines should be nice for Liberty field event competitors Elliot Galeone, Kolby Shepherd and Ryan Smith. The high temperature is supposed to reach 72 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.

Meanwhile, the weather should be nice in Radford on Friday and Saturday. Partly cloudy skies are forecasted both days, with high temperatures of 65 on Friday and 76 on Saturday.

Drake Relays Preview
Competing in the 102nd Drake Relays serves several purposes for the Liberty track & field teams. First, it will be a homecoming for Hawkeye State natives Bushman (Castalia) and Wendland (Charles City), who will both be competing at Drake Stadium for the first time since their standout high school careers. Wendland was the first male in Iowa history to win four consecutive state 1,600-meter titles.

Second, it will give the Flames and Lady Flames a chance to preview the venue for the 2011 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which are slated for June 8-11.

Finally, the Liberty athletes will square off against high-level competition in a meet which features notable track & field superstars such as Lolo Jones, Jenny (Barringer) Simpson, Jeremy Wariner and Alan Webb.

A chronological event-by-event preview follows.

Thursday, 5:05 p.m. Eastern – Men's 800 (Unseeded) – Isaac Wendland
After placing third in the 1,500 and sixth in the 800 at the Big South meet, Wendland will run the 800 on Thursday. He will be aiming for the IC4A standard of 1:51.80. Wendland will face plenty of competition, including Southern Illinois' Stephen Arvanis (2010 Missouri Valley outdoor 800 champion), Texas-Arlington's Dwight Robinson (2010 Southland outdoor 800 champion) and Matthew Smoody (2011 Missouri Valley indoor 800 champion). Lucas Manring of Central Methodist, the 2011 NAIA indoor national runner-up at 800 meters, should also contend.

Thursday, 8:30 p.m. Eastern – Women's 10K – Dacia Bushman
Bushman continued her strong senior season by sweeping the women's 5K and 10K titles at the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships over the weekend. She should be safely qualified for the NCAA Preliminary Round meet in the 10K, thanks to her 35:15.84 effort at the Raleigh Relays. However, Bushman will look to improve her time against a competitive field Thursday evening.

The top three finishers from last year's Drake Relays women's 10K final are back in 2011, led by defending champion Obsie Birru of Grand View. However, Georgia senior Bridget Lyons will enter as the favorite. The reigning SEC 10K champion clocked a 34:02 last year and advanced to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Tulsa's Jaclyn Rollins, who clocked a 16:48 5K earlier this season, is another expected contender.

Friday, 11:45 a.m. Eastern – Men's Javelin – Elliot Galeone
Galeone was voted Men's Outstanding Field Performer at the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships, after winning both the javelin and discus titles. His 229-5 mark in the javelin broke his own school record.

Galeone will need to throw well to contend Friday morning, as four of the top seven names on the current NCAA Division I javelin performance list are entered, including national leader Ignacio Guerra of Western Kentucky (258-2). The other top entrants are Tim Glover of Illinois State (No. 5, 249-0), Matt Byers of Iowa (No. 6, 245-8) and Brian Moore of Georgia (No. 7, 241-11).

Friday, 2:15 p.m. Eastern – Men's Pole Vault – Kolby Shepherd
Shepherd continued his excellent outdoor season on Saturday, clearing a meet-record 17-0.75 to win the men's pole vault title. The redshirt has now gone over 17 feet in each of his last three outings and has only lost to two collegiate competitors all season.

One of the athletes who has defeated Shepherd in 2011, defending NCAA outdoor national champion Jordan Scott of Kansas, is also entered in the Drake Relays. Other pre-meet favorites include Minnesota's Ben Peterson and Nebraska's Nate Polacek, who placed second and fourth, respectively, at the 2011 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Friday, 3:30 p.m. Eastern – Men's Shot Put – Ryan Smith
Smith continued his Big South unbeaten string in the shot put on Friday. He has now competed at four Big South meets, including two indoor and two outdoor. All four times, the Georgia native has claimed the conference men's shot put title.

Smith will see some of the NCAA's top shot putters this Friday, including Nebraska's Luke Pinkelman and Ohio State's Matt DeChant. Pinkelman has thrown 62-7.25 this season, ranking No. 4 nationally. Meanwhile, DeChant earned All-America honors with his eighth-place finish at the 2010 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Radford Invitational Preview
Liberty will be competing at Radford's Patrick D. Cupp Memorial Stadium for the first time since the 2009 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The Radford Invitational is expected to feature athletes from Liberty, Radford, VMI, Virginia Tech, William & Mary and Marshall, among other institutions.

The meet will get underway Friday afternoon, starting at 2 p.m. The only events on Friday's schedule are the men's and women's hammer, men's and women's long jump, men's and women's steeplechase and men's and women's 10K. The rest of the events will take place Saturday, starting at 10 a.m.

Positive Memories
Anthony Bryant is entered in the men's long jump and triple jump this weekend. The last time he competed at Radford, Bryant enjoyed the best meet of his career. He was the 2009 Big South outdoor champion in the long jump (23-4.5), triple jump (school-record 52-0) and high jump (7-0.5) that weekend.

Another endearing image from the 2009 Big South outdoor meet is the performance of Liberty's Marie Williams. She completed 13 events in three days, racking up 33 points for the Lady Flames.

Christina Mitchell did her best Marie Williams impersonation at this year's Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships, competing in 12 events and scoring 23.5 team points. She will begin her preparation for the ECAC heptathlon competition during the Radford Invitational, as Mitchell is entered in the high jump, long jump, shot put and javelin.

Encore, Encore!
Six of Liberty's newly crowned Big South champions will look to build upon those performances this weekend. The list includes Mitchell (Big South women's heptathlon champion), Mia Aghaji (women's triple jump), Meghan Burggraf (women's 800), Olivia Charnuski (women's 100 hurdles), Shelley Parker (women's pole vault) and Chris Johnson (men's triple jump).