Ackley, Lady Flames Voted ASUN XC Preseason Favorites
Liberty junior Adelyn Ackley, the two-time defending ASUN women’s cross country individual champion, was voted the unanimous ASUN Women’s Preseason Runner of the Year for the 2021 fall season by the conference’s head coaches. The Lady Flames were picked to repeat as ASUN champions, while the men’s squad was tabbed for a third-place conference finish.
The Liberty women’s cross country team is coming off a historic 2021 spring season which saw the Lady Flames capture their first ASUN team title and qualify for the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships for the first time. The Lady Flames collected 11 of 12 first-place votes and outdistanced second-place Lipscomb by 21 points in this year’s preseason poll.
Nine-time defending Ohio Valley Conference champion Eastern Kentucky garnered the remaining first-place vote and finished third in the voting. Fellow ASUN newcomer Central Arkansas, which captured the last two Southland Conference titles, came in fourth.
In addition to Ackley, the Lady Flames return five other runners who placed inside the top eight at the Spring 2021 ASUN Cross Country Championships. Calli Doan finished a close second to Ackley for the second year in a row. Grace Dwyer (third), Priscillah Kiplagat (sixth), Noel Palmer (seventh) and Marie Hostetler (eighth) also posted lofty conference finishes for Liberty.
On the men’s side, Liberty has placed second at each of its first three ASUN Cross Country Championships appearances. The Flames came in third in this year’s preseason poll, trailing defending champion North Florida and 2019 titlist Lipscomb. Last year’s Ohio Valley Conference runner-up, Eastern Kentucky is tabbed for fourth place in its ASUN debut.
Head Coach Isaac Wendland’s squad brings back four All-ASUN performers from a year ago, including Ryan Drew (fifth place), Kipruto Kogei (ninth), Felix Kandie (12th) and Caleb Olson (13th). Three months later, Kandie placed ninth in the men’s steeplechase final at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships to earn his second All-America honor.
Liberty will begin the season on Sept. 1 at the Virginia Tech Invitational. The women’s 4K is scheduled for 6 p.m. with the men’s 6K to follow at 6:30 p.m. at the Buford Meredith Cross Country Course in Blacksburg, Va.
This year’s ASUN Cross Country Championships will take place on Oct. 30 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla.
Fall 2021 ASUN Women’s Cross Country Preseason Poll
1) Liberty (11 first-place votes) – 143 points
2) Lipscomb – 122
3) Eastern Kentucky (1) – 115
4) Central Arkansas – 110
5) Kennesaw State – 99
6) North Florida – 89
7) FGCU – 68
8) Bellarmine – 54
9) North Alabama – 49
10) Jacksonville – 35
11) Stetson – 34
12) Jacksonville State – 18
Fall 2021 ASUN Men’s Cross Country Preseason Poll
1) North Florida (11 first-place votes) – 143 points
2) Lipscomb – 122
3) Liberty – 118
4) Eastern Kentucky (1) – 115
5) Central Arkansas – 95
6) North Alabama – 79
7) Stetson – 67
8) FGCU – 60
9) Kennesaw State – 54
10) Bellarmine – 46
11) Jacksonville – 21
12) Jacksonville State – 16
Women’s Preseason Runner of the Year
Adelyn Ackley, Liberty
Men’s Preseason Runner of the Year
Nathan Jubran, North Florida