Melinda Bendik bolstered her women's hammer school record to 197-10, Saturday at the Highlander Invitational.
For the second consecutive year, Liberty redshirt senior Melinda Bendik posted a big mark in the women's hammer throw at the Highlander Invitational. On Saturday, she broke her own program record with a winning effort of 197-10. One of Liberty's seven event winners on the day, Bendik actually eclipsed her previous women's hammer school record of 194-5 twice. Her second throw reached 196-0, before her sixth and final attempt sailed all the way out to the new record distance of 197-10. That heave, which won the event by nearly 30 feet, ranks Bendik No. 20 in the nation. Bendik must like throwing at Radford's Patrick D. Cupp Memorial Stadium. At last year's Highlander Invitational, the Texas native unleashed the longest hammer throw of her career, 198-3, during the midst of her redshirt season.
Women's Meet Recap Freshman Mychelle Cumings followed up Bendik's performance in the women's hammer by placing third at 150-6. Cumings also won an event of her own, taking the women's shot put crown with a 47-4.5 toss. The freshman has now won the women's shot put at each of her last three meets, including the Big South Championship. Teammate Rachel Barnes finished second to Cumings in the shot put, at 41-9.25. After winning the women's long jump Friday afternoon, Mia Aghaji took first place in the triple jump on Saturday. Her wind-aided winning leap stretched out to 39-1.25. The Lady Flames' other two event victories came courtesy of freshman Abigail Flower. She won both the 100 (12.03) and 200 (24.80) dashes comfortably, with fellow Lady Flames following in third place both times. Sherri Spruel came in third in the 100-meter dash final at 12.34 seconds, while Kiara Bridges was third in the 200 with a 25.85 clocking. Liberty displayed its depth in distance running by claiming four of the top five positions and seven of the top 10 spots in the women's 5K. The top two Lady Flames, Meredith Mistretta and Alicia Guridy, crossed the line nearly side by side in second and third place, respectively. Mistretta's time of 18:37.46 set a new season best, while Guridy's 18:37.96 effort closed out her career. The Lady Flames claimed second place in both hurdling events, with Olivia Charnuski clocking 14.70 in the 100 hurdles and Melanie Sims notching a 1:04.01 in the 400 hurdles. Christina Mitchell added a third-place effort in the 400 hurdles, with a season-best time of 1:04.43. Kristen Willeford came in second in the women's high jump while Riley Brandon was third. Both topped out at 5-1, but Willeford had fewer misses.
Men's Meet Recap Both of the Liberty men's team's Saturday victories came in throwing events. The Flames recorded a 1-2-3 sweep in the men's discus, led by David Scouten's winning throw of 154-3. Ryan Smith came in second at 149-11, while Tim Abbott was third with a 149-2 mark. Smith prevailed in the men's shot put, thanks to a facility-record throw of 57-7.5 on his very first attempt. Scouten ended up third, with a 51-0.25 put. Kolby Shepherd placed third in the men's pole vault final, after clearing 15-7. Liberty also fashioned a couple impressive times in the sprints, including Kyle Gill's season-best 48.19 effort in the 400-meter dash for third place. Meanwhile, Lachaddrick Ellis was fifth in the 200-meter dash, after posting a 21.79 clocking into a slight headwind.
For the second straight week, Liberty's team will be divided between two different meets next weekend. Some Flames and Lady Flames will compete at the Duke Twilight in Durham, N.C., while others will head to Rock Hill, S.C., for the Winthrop Twilight. The meets, which will serve as Liberty's last-chance qualifiers for the IC4A and ECAC competitions, are both slated for Sunday, May 6.