(L-R): Ngetich Kipchirchir, Jeremie Bourget, Zach Barker and Caleb Edmonds all ran in the lead pack for the Liberty men's squad during Friday's season-opening Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational.
The Liberty men's and women's cross country teams both employed the same strategy at Friday evening's season-opening Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational. The top Flames and Lady Flames ran their respective races together in tight packs on a sunny, steamy day at the Virginia Tech Cross Country Course. The low-key, non-team scored meet also featured runners from Duke, Radford, Virginia and host Virginia Tech. The races allowed the ACC competitors a chance to preview the venue for the 2012 ACC Cross Country Championships. In the women's 4K race, the top seven Lady Flames crossed the finish line within 1.59 seconds of one another, notching places No. 26 through 32 in the field of 66 women's entrants. Jessica Gass led the way in 15:29.72, with Khristina Kanagy (15:30.01), Stephanie Buda (15:30.27), Meredith Mistretta (15:30.53) and Jacy Christiansen (15:30.78) right on her heels. Sisters Katie (15:31.04) and Courtney Russo (15:31.31) closed out the lead pack, with the latter making a solid collegiate debut. On the men's side, Liberty's six-member pack included four freshmen. The Flames placed 23rd through 28th out of 60 finishers in the men's 6K, paced by freshman Will Templeton's 19:39.75 clocking. Following within 1.6 seconds were teammates Ngetich Kipchirchir (19:40.02), Zach Barker (19:40.30), Sam Hibbs (19:40.61), Jeremie Bourget (19:40.90) and Caleb Edmonds (19:41.35). Liberty's next meet will be the Sept. 15 Winthrop/Adidas Invitational in Rock Hill, S.C. Contested at the site of the 2012 Big South Cross Country Championships, the meet will begin with the men's 8K race at 9 a.m. The women's 5K will follow at 9:45, at the Winthrop Coliseum and Farm.