FSU Winter Cross Country Classic Next Up for Liberty XC
The Liberty men's and women's cross country teams will face their stiffest competition of the regular season on Friday morning, racing against numerous nationally ranked opponents at the FSU Winter Cross Country Classic in Tallahassee, Fla.
The Flames will compete in the day's opening race at Apalachee Regional Park, the men's garnet 8K race at 9 a.m. The Lady Flames will follow in the women's garnet 6K race at 9:30 a.m. Liberty's duo of Jeremiah Mussmon and Jacob Underwood will then compete in the men's gold 8K race at 10 a.m.
How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results, featuring updates from each 1K split, will be available, thanks to PrimeTime Timing.
Friday morning's weather in Tallahassee is expected to be in the low 60s with rain likely.
Checking Out the Course
This will be Liberty's first time racing at Apalachee Regional Park, but the Flames hope to make a return trip later this year. The same course is slated to host the 2021 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships on Nov. 20.
Scouting the Competition
The Liberty men's squad will face seven nationally ranked teams in the garnet race, headlined by the trio of No. 6 Iowa State, No. 12 Stanford and No. 13 Colorado.
The Flames are not listed in this week's USTFCCCA Southeast Region poll, but they have a chance to change that with a strong performance Friday morning. Four ranked teams from the Southeast will line up in Tallahassee, including No. 2 Wake Forest, No. 6 Eastern Kentucky, No. 7 Duke and No. 13 Charleston Southern.
The Liberty men's team will match up against ASUN rival North Florida for the second straight meet. The Flames will also face Eastern Kentucky, which will join the ASUN in time for the 2021 fall season.
In the women's garnet race, the Lady Flames will battle six nationally ranked foes, headlined by No. 4 Stanford and No. 8 Colorado.
Currently ranked No. 10 in the Southeast Region, the Lady Flames will face Duke, which is listed No. 3 in the Southeast.
Finally, the Lady Flames will match up against future ASUN foe Eastern Kentucky for the first time this season.
What's at Stake?
During this unique cross country season, regional meets will not be contested. As a result, this Friday's meet and the ASUN Cross Country Championships on March 5 will represent Liberty's two best opportunities to build its resume for possible selection to the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.
Last Time Out
The Lady Flames opened their first-ever spring cross country season in style at the CSU Buccaneer Invitational, Jan. 23 in Charleston, S.C. Liberty swept the top five places in the women's 5K, giving the Lady Flames a perfect score of 15.
Individually, Calli Doan (17:18.1) and Priscillah Kiplagat (17:18.8) crossed the finish line nearly side-by-side for first and second place, respectively. Newcomers Grace Dwyer (third place, 17:38.1), Anna Hostetler (fourth, 17:44.0) and Marie Hostetler (fifth, 17:47.5) completed Liberty's 1-5 sweep. Doan went on to be named ASUN Women's Runner of the Week with Marie Hostetler earning ASUN Women's Freshman of the Week honors.
In the men's 8K, Liberty's Ryan Drew (third place, 24:23.1) and Caleb Olson (eighth, 24:46.5) each clocked personal-best times and top-10 finishes. As a team, the Flames scored 56 points to finish third behind North Florida (22) and host Charleston Southern (47).
Kipruto Kogei is set to make his collegiate debut for the Flames on Friday. He will be one of three freshmen racing in the top seven for the men's team during the garnet race, along with Stephen Carvalho and Kyle Harkabus.
On the women's side, sophomore Adelyn Ackley and redshirt junior Noel Palmer will look to make their season debuts after both were held out of the season opener. Ackley was the 2019 ASUN women's cross country individual champion and Palmer was the 2018 ASUN individual runner-up. Palmer (20:27.0) and Ackley (20:33.3) rank No. 2 and 3, respectively, on Liberty's all-time women's cross country 6K list.
Liberty will take a break from competition leading up to the ASUN Cross Country Championships, which are scheduled for March 5 at the Georgia Premier Cross Country Course in Macon, Ga. The women's 5K will begin at 11 a.m. with the men's 8K to follow at noon.
During the interim, some of Liberty's distance runners will compete on the indoor track, including at the ASUN Indoor Track & Field Championships on Feb. 26-27 at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex.