Ackley Named ASUN Preseason Runner of the Year
Liberty sophomore Adelyn Ackley, who captured the ASUN women’s cross country individual title as a freshman in 2019, was voted the ASUN Women’s Preseason Runner of the Year for the 2021 spring season. Meanwhile, both the Liberty men’s and women’s teams were picked a close second behind defending champion Lipscomb in the ASUN preseason polls, voted upon by the conference’s head coaches.
The Lady Flames have finished second to Lipscomb during both seasons as an ASUN Conference member. The two teams evenly split the eight first-place votes in this year’s preseason poll, but the Bisons edged the Lady Flames by one point (60-59) for the top spot in the poll.
Ackley, who hails from Mears, Mich., won the 2019 ASUN women’s individual title with a 5K program-record time of 17:08.65 for her third victory of her freshman campaign. She was the first freshman woman to claim the ASUN women’s cross country title since 1996. She is one of Liberty’s five returning All-ASUN runners from 2019, along with Calli Doan (second place), Emma Bower (10th place), Priscillah Kiplagat (12th place) and Brittany Carnathan (14th place).
Liberty also brings back Noel Palmer from a redshirt season. The redshirt junior placed second at the 2018 ASUN Cross Country Championships. The Lady Flames have added talented transfers Grace Dwyer (Furman) and Anna Hostetler (Iowa), along with Hostetler’s freshman sister, Marie Hostetler.
On the men’s side, Lipscomb edged Liberty by one point (39-40) to capture the 2019 ASUN title. The Bisons also topped the Flames by a single point (76-75) in this year’s ASUN preseason poll. Lipscomb, which is led by defending ASUN individual champion and Preseason Runner of the Year Brent Leber, garnered five first-place votes to Liberty’s four.
The Flames’ 2021 spring squad is anchored by a trio of returning first team All-ASUN performers from 2019. Felix Kandie placed second overall with Ryan Drew fourth and Caleb Olson seventh. Joe Spitzer also made the ASUN All-Freshman Team after a 16th-place finish at the 2019 ASUN Championship.
Liberty will open the season this Saturday, competing at the CSU Buccaneer Invitational in Charleston, S.C. The women’s 5K is set to begin at 2 p.m., followed by the men’s 8K at 2:45.
This year’s ASUN Cross Country Championships are slated for March 5 at the Georgia Premier Cross Country Course in Macon, Ga. The women’s 5K will go off at 11 a.m., with the men’s 8K to follow at noon.
2021 Spring ASUN Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll
1) Lipscomb (4 first-place votes) – 60 points
2) Liberty (4) – 59
3) Kennesaw State – 47
4) North Florida – 41
5) North Alabama – 31
6) Stetson – 23
7) FGCU – 17
8) Bellarmine – 10
2021 Spring ASUN Men's Cross Country Preseason Poll
1) Lipscomb (5 first-place votes) – 76 points
2) Liberty (4) – 75
3) North Florida – 65
4) FGCU – 53
5) Stetson – 42
6T) Bellarmine – 30
6T) North Alabama – 30
8) Kennesaw State – 24
9) Jacksonville – 10
Women's Preseason Runner of the Year
Adelyn Ackley, Liberty
Men's Preseason Runner of the Year
Brent Leber, Lipscomb