Abigail Flower won both the women's 60 and 200 titles at the Liberty Kickoff while qualifying for the ECAC meet in each race.
Liberty sophomore Abigail Flower and redshirt senior Ryan Smith were two of the Flames' biggest stars at the season-opening Liberty Kickoff, Saturday at the Tolsma Indoor Track Center. Both Flower and Smith won a pair of events and posted two ECAC/IC4A qualifiers in the process. In total, Liberty won 14 events on the day while racking up 10 IC4A-qualifying marks and four ECAC qualifiers.
Men's Meet Recap Smith continued his string of dominance in the Liberty Kickoff men's shot put competition. He took home his fifth consecutive title in the event with a winning heave of 56-4. The IC4A-qualifying throw was one of three marks by Smith which would have won the competition over teammate Jacob DeValve, who came in second at 51-0. Earlier in the day, Smith had won the men's weight throw in dominating fashion. His top mark of 62-8.5, which exceeded the IC4A standard, landed more than six feet past his closest competitor. Andre Washington was one of Liberty's busiest competitors on Saturday, winning the 400-meter dash, leading off for the victorious 4 x 400 relay squad, placing fourth in the 60 hurdles final and taking fifth place in the 60 dash final. Washington's 400 time of 49.64 was an IC4A qualifier, as was his preliminary time of 6.97 in the 60 dash. Teammate Roderick Spruel beat Washington to the line in the 60 final, clocking a personal-best and IC4A-qualifying time of 6.91 for third place. Spruel is now tied for fourth place on Liberty's all-time performance list in the 60-meter dash. Washington was joined by ConRoy Smith, Paul Arslain and Leonard Robbins on the 4 x 400 relay unit, which won by more than eight seconds in an IC4A mark of 3:22.73. Shortly before running on the 4 x 400 relay, Smith had won the 200-meter dash in a meet-record and IC4A-qualifying time of 22.11. Robbins was fourth in the race, completing the one-lap race in 22.82 seconds. Meanwhile, Arslain picked up an IC4A qualifier of his own in the 500-meter dash. His time of 1:05.53 was good for second place in one of the day's most competitive races. Caleb Edmonds helped get the day off to a strong start by clocking a personal-best and IC4A-qualifying 5K time of 14:35.64 to successfully defend his Liberty Kickoff title from 2011. Teammate Nate Jones took third place in the 25-lapper with a 15:45.23 effort. Jarred Cornfield won the 1,000-meter run by five seconds and established a new meet record with his 2:31.63 time. Kevin Reddington's 23-4.75 long jump placed third in the competition and punched his IC4A ticket. Meanwhile, Kyle Wheeler took the third spot in the high jump, thanks to a 6-6.25 clearance. Harrison Allen finished the heptathlon in second place, totaling 4,316 points in the two-day competition.
Women's Meet Recap Flower sped to a personal-best time of 7.62 seconds in the women's 60-meter dash final, dipping under the ECAC standard and tying her for second place on Liberty's all-time list. Behind her, Sherri Spruel's personal-best 7.78 effort netted fourth place in the race and tied her for 10th in program history. Flower later notched a time of 25.40 in the 200, winning the event and recording an early-season ECAC qualifier. Fellow sophomore Mychelle Cumings had the four longest throws of the women's shot put competition, including her winning mark of 48-9.5 which reached the ECAC line and enabled her to defend her Liberty Kickoff crown from 2011. Cumings had earlier finished second to redshirting teammate Jocelyn Williams in the weight throw with a 49-4.25 effort. The Lady Flames' final ECAC-qualifying performance came in the pentathlon, where Liberty athletes swept spots two through six. Christina Mitchell was the event runner-up and reached the ECAC standard with her score of 3,454. Behind Mitchell, Audrey Bamford scored a career-best 3,367 points for third place. She was buoyed by a career-best 5-5.25 high jump clearance which would have placed Bamford second in the open high jump. Defending Liberty Kickoff pentathlon champion Jessica Harrison came in fourth, scoring 3,254 points in her collegiate debut. Harrison was one of a number of Liberty freshmen who impressed on Saturday. Rookie Janae Jones triple jumped 38-10.25 to win the event and claim the No. 5 spot in program history. Freshmen Kelli Ley, Brittany Webley and Corinn Bedell joined junior Kiara Bridges to win the women's 4 x 400 relay in 3:57.49. Bedell raced to a 57.7 split on the anchor leg, enabling the Lady Flames to overtake Elon for the victory. Earlier in the day, Bedell was fourth in the 400-meter dash with a time of 58.78. Meanwhile, Webley's 8.97 clocking put her sixth in the 60 hurdles final and eighth in program history. One other freshman who posted a notable debut on Saturday was Chandler Fraley, whose 11-3.75 clearance in the pole vault was good for seventh place in the event and the sixth spot on Liberty's all-time performance list. Sophomores recorded Liberty's other two event victories on the day. Melissa Rowher took the long jump title with a 17-11.5 leap, after placing third in the triple jump at 37-10.75. Jacy Christiansen led a 1-2-3-4 Liberty sweep of the 5K Saturday morning, finishing in 17:51.89. Trailing her were teammates Betel Yosef (18:06.85), Meredith Mistretta (18:15.88) and Jessica Gass (18:37.06), all of whom recorded indoor personal-best times. Kristen Willeford was the high jump runner-up at 5-4.25, while Amanda Wimbush came in fourth in the 800 with a 2:20.82 clocking.
Liberty will now take an extended break from competition before returning to action on Jan. 19. That day, the Flames and Lady Flames will compete in the Wake Forest Invitational at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, N.C. The same facility will host the 2013 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships, Feb. 21-22.