Ryan Smith won the Liberty Kickoff men's shot put title for the fourth year in a row, while qualifying for the IC4A meet in both the shot put and weight throw.
Building upon its successful Friday performances at the Liberty Kickoff, Liberty won eight events, posted eight IC4A/ECAC qualifying efforts and took down another school record on Saturday inside the Tolsma Indoor Track Center. Freshman Mychelle Cumings became the second women's thrower to take down a program record in as many days, with her shot put mark of 45-1 passing Caitlyn Sutterfield's five-year old standard of 43-10.75. Cumings also qualified for the ECAC Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships in the process. Meanwhile, the Flames recorded seven IC4A-qualifying marks on the day, including Taylor Courtney (1:04.47) and Paul Arslain (1:05.21) in the 500; Andre Washington, Arslain, Kyle Gill and Courtney (3:20.70) in the 4 x 400 relay; Logan Elliston (6-8.75) in the high jump; Kolby Shepherd (16-2.75) in the pole vault and Ryan Smith in both the shot put (53-7.5) and weight throw (56-5.25).
Men's Day Two Recap Smith, a redshirt junior, won his fourth consecutive Liberty Kickoff in dominating fashion. All five of his legal throws were longer than the top effort of runner-up Thomas Fuson of Virginia. Smith's best effort of 53-7.5 won the competition by more than three and a half feet. Earlier in the day, Fuson had won the weight throw, relegating Smith and freshman teammate David Scouten to second and third place, respectively. Smith's best mark (56-5.25) was still an IC4A qualifier, as noted above, and Scouten's 53-4.25 effort made him the No. 7 men's weight thrower in program history. The 500-meter run is not usually a staple of college meets at the Tolsma Indoor Track Center, but juniors Courtney and Arslain made the most of its appearance on Saturday's schedule. In addition to both notching IC4A qualifiers, the duo finished 1-2 in the race, pushing Radford standout Kaise White back to the third position. In the meet's final men's running event, the 4 x 400 relay, Courtney and Arslain helped the Flames post a come-from-behind victory over Wake Forest. They were joined by Washington and Gill, but it was Courtney's sub-50 second anchor leg that sealed the win. Gill and Washington had earlier finished side-by-side in the 400-meter dash, posting times of 50.62 and 50.63 for third and fourth place, respectively. Competing for the first time since the 2011 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Shepherd squared off against two of his foes from that meet—Virginia Tech's Joe Davis and Hunter Hall (Hall competed unattached on Saturday). Even though Shepherd finished third behind the Hokie duo in the competition, he did record an early-season IC4A qualifier at 16-2.75. Elliston was one of numerous Liberty men's and women's athletes who made a successful debut in a Flames uniform this weekend. The UNC Wilmington transfer's third-attempt high jump clearance at 6-8.25 won the competition, punched his IC4A ticket and claimed the No. 8 position on Liberty's all-time performance list. Liberty's final event champion on the men's side was senior Isaac Wendland in the men's 3K. Wendland clocked an 8:53.35 in the longest race he has ever contested on the track. Finishing not too far behind him in second place was freshman teammate Jacob Onifer, who stopped the clock at 8:57.19. Junior Kevin Reddington came tantalizingly close to an IC4A qualifier in the men's long jump, falling just one-half inch shy with his runner-up effort of 23-0. A 14-2.75 pole vault clearance helped Taylor Schmidt jump up the heptathlon standings on Saturday. He ended up fourth in the competition with 4,618 points. Right behind him in the fifth position was teammate Tevan McIntire, whose score of 4,502 places him eighth in program history. Allen Simms, a past NCAA national triple jump champion while competing for the USC Trojans, set the day's only facility record with his winning triple jump distance of 52-1.25. Women's Day Two Recap For the second straight day, the Lady Flames enjoyed an impressive showing in a women's throwing event. This time around, it was the shot put. Cumings' record-setting 45-1 heave won the event and made her one of five Lady Flames in the event's top seven positions. Cumings' mark also ranks her No. 8 in Big South Conference history. Cumings was followed by Emily Woods (second place, 43-7.25), Jocelyn Williams (fourth place, 41-5.75), Jennifer Nicholson (fifth place, 39-10.5) and Rachel Barnes (seventh place, 39-2.5). Woods and Williams both joined Liberty's all-time top 10 list, with Woods at No. 3 and Williams at No. 8. Williams' performance added almost three and a half feet to her previous indoor shot put best, following up her school-record 56-8.5 weight throw effort from Friday evening. Junior Meghan Burggraf, an 800-meter specialist, was successful in a move up to 1,000 meters on Saturday. Her time of 2:58.66 won the race by more than three seconds and was the fastest effort by a Lady Flame since Melissa Blackstone clocked 2:55.12 on March 5, 2005. Burggraf now ranks No. 5 in program history and No. 4 in Big South history (which only includes marks since indoor track & field became an official conference sport in 1998). Olivia Charnuski kicked her senior season off in style, winning one event and finishing as the top collegiate athlete in another. Her victory came in the 60-meter hurdles, as she was able to edge conference rival Manika Gamble of High Point in a photo finish. Both runners were clocked in 8.84 seconds. Later on, Charnuski came in third overall behind two post-collegiate standouts in the 200-meter dash, recording a 25.85. Two other Liberty freshmen who excelled on Saturday were Meme Layne and Melissa Rohwer. Layne came in fifth in the women's 60-meter dash final, after making the final with a preliminary time of 7.79 seconds. That puts her No. 9 in program history. Rohwer's best event on the day was the triple jump, where the Idaho native placed fourth with a 38-5.5 leap on her opening attempt. As a result, Rohwer already ranks No. 7 on Liberty's all-time top 10 list in the event. Marianne Wheeler and Kristen Willeford both equaled their indoor personal-best clearances in the high jump, as each sailed over 5-5 successfully. Wheeler ended up fourth in the competition, with Willeford following in sixth place.
Liberty will now take an extended break from competition before returning to action on Jan. 18. A number of Flames and Lady Flames will travel across town to Lynchburg College for the Hornet Sprints, Jumps and Throws Challenge, beginning at 6 p.m.
2011 Liberty Kickoff at a Glance
Liberty Records (2) Women's Shot Put – 45-1 by Mychelle Cumings Women's Weight Throw – 56-8.5 by Jocelyn Williams
Facility Record (1) Men's Triple Jump – 52-1.25 by Allen Simms (Unattached)
Liberty's IC4A Qualifying Performances (8) Men's 500 – 1:04.47 by Taylor Courtney Men's 500 – 1:05.21 by Paul Arslain Men's 5K – 14:49.82 by Caleb Edmonds Men's 4 x 400 – 3:20.70 by Andre Washington, Paul Arslain, Kyle Gill and Taylor Courtney Men's High Jump – 6-8.75 by Logan Elliston Men's Pole Vault – 16-2.75 by Kolby Shepherd Men's Shot Put – 53-7.5 by Ryan Smith Men's Weight Throw – 56-5.25 by Ryan Smith
Liberty's ECAC Qualifying Performances (5) Women's 5K – 17:22.92 by Jennifer Klugh Women's Pole Vault – 11-9.75 by Rachel Houseknecht Women's Shot Put – 45-1 by Mychelle Cumings Women's Weight Throw – 56-8.5 by Jocelyn Williams Women's Weight Throw – 55-0 by Melinda Bendik
Liberty's Event Victories (10) Men's 500 – Taylor Courtney Men's 3K – Isaac Wendland Men's 5K – Caleb Edmonds Men's 4 x 400 Relay – Andre Washington, Paul Arslain, Kyle Gill, Taylor Courtney Men's High Jump – Logan Elliston Men's Shot Put – Ryan Smith Women's 1,000 – Meghan Burggraf Women's 5K – Jennifer Klugh Women's 60 Hurdles – Olivia Charnuski Women's Shot Put – Mychelle Cumings