Liberty Throwers, Freshmen Post Multiple Victories at Friday’s Brant Tolsma Invite
Host Liberty won five events on Friday, the opening day of the inaugural Brant Tolsma Invitational at the Liberty Indoor Track Complex. Two of the Flames' victories came from weight throwers (Naomi Mojica and Jacob Strickler) and two more came from freshmen (Gabrielle Brohard – women's 500 and Amani Hankton – women's 60 hurdles).
The meet, which featured a portion of Liberty's team squaring off against NCAA Division II and III opposition, was named for former Flames head coach Brant Tolsma. He retired in 2020 following a distinguished 34-year career at Liberty which included 116 conference titles in track & field and cross country.
Strickler got the Flames' day off to a good start with a personal best 51-0.25 effort for victory in the morning's opening event, the men's weight throw. Freshman teammate Beau Backes, making his debut for the Flames, followed in second place at 50-7.25.
Mojica (53-9) and fellow Lady Flames senior Grace Artis (53-1.75) also made it a 1-2 home team sweep in the women's weight throw. In all, five of the top seven finishers hailed from Liberty, also including the freshman trio of Megan Mann (fourth, 50-2.5), Annika Hantho (fifth, 47-8.5) and Mojica's younger sister Sofia Mojica (seventh, 46-10.75).
Competing in a Liberty uniform for the first time, Lynchburg-area native Hankton was the top qualifier in the women's 60 hurdles prelims in 9.06. She then crossed the line first in the final at 9.10.
Brohard made a late charge for victory in the women's 500, thanks to a season-best 1:25.89 clocking.
Ayanna Johnson was the Lady Flames' final event champion on the day, claiming the women's long jump title with her best mark since 2017 (18-2.5).
A number of Liberty's multi-event athletes entered several of Friday's events. Anthony Bryan was the men's long jump runner-up (22-7.25) and fifth-place finisher in the 60 hurdles (8.38). Fellow decathlete Cole Peterlin placed fourth in that 60 hurdles final (8.35) and took third in the pole vault (12-9.5), establishing new personal bests in both disciplines.
On the women's side, Kali Grayson was Liberty's top finisher in both the shot put (second place, 41-3) and high jump (third place, 4-11.75).
One final Liberty result of note was Juan Pablo Germain Ronco's third-place showing in the men's 60 hurdles final in 8.26 during his first meet of 2021. Liberty now ranks 1-2-3-4 on the ASUN men's 60 hurdles list this season.
Women's Event Winners (4)
Gabrielle Brohard – 500 – 1:25.89
Amani Hankton – 60 Hurdles – 9.10
Ayanna Johnson – Long Jump – 18-2.5
Naomi Mojica – Weight Throw – 53-9
Men's Event Winners (1)
Jacob Strickler – Weight Throw – 51-0.25
Other Women's Top 3 Finishers
2nd – Emma Arblaster – Triple Jump – 36-2 (1st collegiate)
2nd – Grace Artis – Weight Throw – 53-1.75
2nd – Kali Grayson – Shot Put – 41-3
2nd – Abby Pantlitz – 200 – 25.19
3rd – Jamie Gray – Shot Put – 40-7
3rd – Kali Grayson – High Jump – 4-11.75
3rd – Dawn Hilton – 60 – 8.01
3rd – Janai Scott – 200 – 25.43
Tie for 3rd – Marisa Bermudez – Pole Vault – 10-8
Other Men's Top 3 Finishers
2nd – Beau Backes – Weight Throw – 50-7.25
2nd – Anthony Bryan – Long Jump – 22-7.25
3rd – Juan Pablo Germain Ronco – 60 Hurdles – 8.26
3rd – Cole Peterlin – Pole Vault – 12-9.5
Saturday's Brant Tolsma Invitational action begins at 9 a.m. with the men's weight throw. Running events commence with the men's 5K at 10 a.m.