Jennifer Klugh won the Liberty Kickoff women's 5K title for the third year in a row and qualified for the ECAC meet in the process.
Friday was a light day of activity inside the Tolsma Indoor Track Center to start the 2011 Liberty Kickoff. However, Liberty still enjoyed a fruitful day, as sophomore Jocelyn Williams broke the school record in the women's weight throw and was one of five Flames to post ECAC and IC4A-qualifying marks. Williams sent her second weight throw attempt out to 56-8.5, shattering teammate Melinda Bendik's program record of 55-0.25. Both Williams and Bendik punched their tickets to the ECAC Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, as did Rachel Houseknecht (pole vault) and Jennifer Klugh (5K). Meanwhile, Caleb Edmonds earned a spot in the 5K field at the IC4A Indoor Track & Field Championships with his performance Friday evening.
Women's Meet Recap Although Liberty boasts a highly-touted crop of new women's throwers this season, it was two returnees who stood out inside the weight throw circle on Friday. Williams' 56-8.5 effort not only eclipsed Bendik's mark but added nearly three feet to her own previous personal best of 53-11.25. It also placed second overall in the event, trailing only Virginia standout Maureen Laffan's top mark of 58-2.5. Bendik nearly matched her previous school record with her second throw of the night, stretching the measuring tape to 55-0 to finish fourth in the competition. Two of the Lady Flames' talented newcomers, Emily Woods and Mychelle Cumings, joined the program's all-time top 10 list on Friday. Woods threw 47-9.25 for sixth place in the event and the No. 7 position in program history. Just behind her, Cumings reached 47-8 for seventh place overall and the No. 8 spot all-time at Liberty. Klugh spearheaded an impressive performance by the Liberty distance runners in the women's 5K final, as seven Lady Flames ran 19:12.63 or faster. Klugh won the event for the third year in a row at this meet, speeding to a time of 17:22.92 which was well under the ECAC standard. Freshman Jacy Christiansen made a late charge to claim third place and dip under the 18-minute barrier at 17:56.54. Meanwhile, junior Betel Yosef fared well in her first-ever 5K on the track, coming in sixth at 18:10.78 to pace a pack of five consecutive Liberty finishers. Houseknecht got her redshirt senior campaign off to a flying start, literally and figuratively. Her second-attempt clearance at 11-9.75 met the ECAC standard, set a new personal best, tied her for third place on Liberty's all-time performance list with teammate Shelley Parker and placed Houseknecht fourth in a competitive field. With Christina Mitchell competing unattached on Friday, freshman Audrey Bamford stepped up as the top Lady Flame in the pentathlon. The Keystone State native placed sixth in the final standings with 2,903 points, aided greatly by a solid 5-3 high jump clearance.
Men's Meet Recap Working together for much of the race, Liberty sophomores Edmonds and Josh MacDonald both set new indoor 5K personal bests on Friday. Edmonds' winning time of 14:49.82 narrowly missed the IC4A standard of 14:47.40, but he will get to compete in Boston due to the flat-track conversion factor. MacDonald nearly joined his classmate in qualifying for the IC4A meet, but had to settle for a time of 14:56.98 and a third-place finish in the event. The only other Liberty men's athletes to compete on Friday were the Flames' multi-event athletes. Redshirt freshman Tevan McIntire was the best of the bunch, tallying 2,706 points through the first four events of the heptathlon. McIntire, whose top mark was a 6-4 high jump clearance, goes into Saturday's competition sitting in fourth place of 19 heptathletes.
The Liberty Kickoff will resume Saturday at 9:30 a.m., with the men's weight throw, women's triple jump and men's long jump. The first running event of the day will be the heptathlon 60-meter hurdles, set for a 10:15 a.m. start.