Liberty Women’s XC Team Qualifies for NCAA National Meet for 1st Time
Two days after capturing the program’s first ASUN Conference title, the Liberty women’s cross country team made more history on Sunday. They became the Flames’ first cross country team (men’s or women’s) ever selected to compete in the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.
Liberty will be one of 31 women’s squads which toe the starting line at the 2020 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. The 6K race will be contested on March 15 at 12:50 p.m. Eastern at the Oklahoma State Cross Country Course in Stillwater, Okla. The race will be televised live on ESPNU, with coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m.
In the absence of regional qualifying meets this season, each team was judged by the NCAA selection committee on its overall body of work. The Lady Flames’ season consisted of three races, including dominant victories at the CSU Buccaneer Invitational and ASUN Championships as well as an impressive seventh-place showing at the FSU Winter Cross Country Classic. The only six teams to defeat Liberty at FSU were also selected to the NCAA field on Sunday.
The moment our women's XC team learned it had made history! pic.twitter.com/8wMnLIcZ1J
— Liberty Track & Field (@Liberty_XCTF) March 7, 2021
Liberty’s performance at Friday’s ASUN Cross Country Championships put an exclamation point on its NCAA resume. The Lady Flames matched the lowest score in the meet’s 36-year history with their winning score of 19 points. Liberty’s five scorers all earned first team All-ASUN medals, including individual champion Adelyn Ackley, runner-up Calli Doan, third-place Grace Dwyer, sixth-place Priscillah Kiplagat and seventh-place Noel Palmer. Ackley and Doan posted a 1-2 individual finish for the second year in a row at the ASUN meet.
ASUN Coach of the Year Rachel Johnson will take a team to the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships for the first time in her coaching career. As an athlete, she helped Baylor finish 19th at the 2014 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships with a fifth-place individual showing.
First-year Lady Flame Dwyer will be making her third NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships appearance, including her second in as many years. She was previously part of a Furman squad which placed seventh at the 2017 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships and ninth in 2019.
This will be the fifth time the Liberty women’s cross country team is represented at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. Heather Sagan qualified as an individual in 2000 and 2001, followed by single appearances by Jennifer Klugh (2012) and Ednah Kurgat (2015).
The Lady Flames’ last team qualification for an NCAA national championship meet came in 1987. During Liberty’s final season before moving up to Division I, the Lady Flames placed fourth at the 1987 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships.