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Liberty Track Bound for Philadelphia, Radford

April 25, 2012  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Paul Arslain (left) and Leonard Robbins will both run on Liberty's men's 4 x 400 relay squad at the Penn Relays this weekend.

Paul Arslain (left) and Leonard Robbins will both run on Liberty's men's 4 x 400 relay squad at the Penn Relays this weekend.

Penn Relays Thursday Schedule/Results

Penn Relays Friday Schedule/Results

Penn Relays Saturday Schedule/Results

Penn Relays Video Streaming

Flotrack's Penn Relays Coverage

Penn Relays Weather

Highlander Invitational Schedule

Highlander Invitational Live Results

Highlander Invitational Performance List

Highlander Invitational Meet Central

Highlander Invitational Weather

The Liberty men's and women's outdoor track & field teams will aim to build upon their strong performances at the 2012 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships at a pair of meets this weekend. Some Flames and Lady Flames are entered in the Penn Relays, while others will compete in Radford's Highlander Invitational.

The 118th annual Penn Relays will be contested Thursday through Saturday at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pa. Josh MacDonald will be the first Liberty athlete to compete, running in the men's steeplechase Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, Liberty will also be represented at the Highlander Invitational for the second straight year. The two-day meet will begin Friday at noon with the women's discus. Four Lady Flames, including newly-crowned Big South champion Mychelle Cumings, are entered in the event.

How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
NBC will televise two hours of live coverage of the Penn Relays on Saturday, from 1-3 p.m.

Fans can watch the rest of the Penn Relays via live video streaming. A three-day pass costs $15.95. A one-day pass for either Thursday or Friday costs $5.95, while a one-day pass for Saturday only costs $7.95.

Additionally, Flotrack will be on hand in Philadelphia, complementing the live video options with interviews and analysis throughout the Penn Relays.

Live results will be available throughout both the Penn Relays and Highlander Invitational. Links are available at the top of this release and on the track & field schedule/results page on

Weather Report
The weather is supposed to be rather cool in Philadelphia for the Penn Relays, which will excite the Flames' distance runners but disappoint its sprinters. The warmest projected high temperature is 65 degrees on Thursday, but that day features an 80 percent chance of rain. Temperatures are then expected to cool off to 61 degrees Friday and 53 on Saturday.

Warmer weather is forecasted for Radford this weekend, with a high of 70 and a slight chance of rain Friday. Saturday is expected to warm up to 71 degrees under partly cloudy skies.

Ready for Relays?
Appropriately, Liberty's primary focus at the Penn Relays will be on relay events. Liberty has entered three men's relay squads and one women's relay quartet.

Relays have been a strong part of Liberty's men's and women's teams this season. Most recently, the Flames and Lady Flames placed second in all four relay races at the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

This season, Liberty has clocked its fastest times in the men's 4 x 100 (40.65) and 4 x 200 (1:25.80) relays since 2001. Meanwhile, the Flames' season-best 3:13.76 effort in the 4 x 400 relay is the team's fastest since 2007. Liberty has quartets entered in all three of those events at the Penn Relays.
Here are Liberty's probable relay groupings for the Penn Relays:

Men's 4 x 100Roderick Spruel, Leonard Robbins, Tarell Williams, Maxwell Asante/ConRoy Smith
Men's 4 x 200Andre Washington, ConRoy Smith, Maxwell Asante, Leonard Robbins
Men's 4 x 400 – Leonard Robbins, Andre Washington, Paul Arslain, Taylor Courtney
Women's 4 x 800Jennifer Klugh, Jacy Christiansen, Amanda Wimbush, Meghan Burggraf

Big South's Best
Liberty won 15 event titles at last weekend's Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Eight of those Big South event champions will compete in the same events this weekend, at the Highlander Invitational.

In women's events, double Big South champion Mychelle Cumings will throw the shot put and discus, Melinda Bendik will throw the hammer, Christina Mitchell will throw the javelin and Mia Aghaji will triple jump.

On the men's side, Ryan Smith will throw the shot put and discus after claiming Big South titles in both events. Meanwhile, Kolby Shepherd is entered in the pole vault.

Looking Back
Liberty women's throwers Melinda Bendik and Jocelyn Williams both starred at last year's Highlander Invitational. During her redshirt season, Bendik won the women's hammer competition with a throw of 198-3, which still ranks as the best of her career.

Williams earned Big South Women's Field Athlete of the Week honors after winning the women's discus and placing second in the shot put at the 2011 Highlander Invitational. Her discus mark was a then personal-best 142-7, while her 40-1.25 effort in the shot put was the first 40-foot throw of Williams' career.

Familiar Face, Unfamiliar Place
Liberty fans attending the Radford Invitational will get their first glimpse of Ansley Gebben on the track. A freshman outside hitter for the Lady Flames' volleyball team, Gebben will compete unattached in the women's 400-meter hurdles, Saturday at 2:55 p.m.

This will be Gebben's first track & field race since May 28, 2011. Then a senior at The First Academy, she captured the 400-meter hurdles title at the Golden South Classic in a personal-best time of 59.90 seconds. By comparison, Liberty's program record in the 400 hurdles is 60.57 seconds, set by Danielle McNaney in 2005.

Schedule Additions
Due to the recent cancellation of the Liberty Twilight Qualifier, the Flames have added a pair of meets to their schedule. Liberty will divide its athletes between the Duke Twilight and Winthrop Twilight, both of which are scheduled for May 6. Those events will provide one final opportunity for Liberty athletes to qualify for the IC4A and ECAC Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships (May 11-13).