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    Team News

    October 28, 2021 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    Men’s Meet Information

    Women’s Meet Information

    Live Video (ESPN+)

    Live Results

    Orlando Weather

    After exceptional showings at the FSU XC Invite/Pre-Nationals two weeks ago, the Liberty men’s and women’s cross country teams are returning to the Sunshine State on Saturday. The 2021 ASUN Cross Country Championships will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando.

    The men’s 8K is set for 7:40 a.m., while the Lady Flames will attempt to defend their ASUN title in the women’s 5K at 8:15.

    How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
    Saturday’s races will be available for viewing live on ESPN+.

    Live results, featuring in-progress splits and team scores, will be provided by Half-Mile Timing.

    Weather Report
    Saturday morning’s weather in Orlando is expected to be breezy with a mixture of sunshine and clouds and a temperature in the 60s.

    Checking Out the Course
    Liberty will race at the ESPN Wide World of Sports for the first time on Saturday. The same course will play host to the MAAC Cross Country Championships directly following the ASUN races.

    Men’s Team Preview
    Liberty is expected to be part of a four-way battle for the men’s team title Saturday morning. The Flames figure to compete with defending champion North Florida, 2019 champion Lipscomb and ASUN newcomer Eastern Kentucky, which captured titles during 14 of its last 15 years in the Ohio Valley Conference.

    All four teams are regionally ranked, led by Lipscomb (No. 4 in the South) and North Florida (No. 5 in the South). Liberty (No. 8) and Eastern Kentucky (No. 12) are both ranked within the Southeast Region, while Central Arkansas sits No. 10 in the South Central Region.

    North Florida and Lipscomb have alternated winning the last five ASUN men’s cross country titles, with UNF claiming victory in 2016, 2018 and Spring 2021 and the Bisons taking the trophy in 2017 and 2019. Liberty has finished as the runner-up at each of its first three ASUN Cross Country Championships appearances (2018, 2019 and Spring 2021).

    The Flames are in search of their first ASUN cross country team title and their first conference championship overall since 2013 (Big South). The Liberty men’s squad has placed inside the top two at each of its last 18 conference cross country championships, beginning with the 2003 Big South meet.

    Liberty returns all four of its all-conference performers from the Spring 2021 ASUN Championships, including Ryan Drew (fifth place), Kipruto Kogei (ninth), Felix Kandie (12th) and Caleb Olson (13th). Kandie (three-time All-ASUN), Drew (two-time All-ASUN) and Caleb Olson (two-time All-ASUN) have all posted multiple all-conference finishes in cross country.

    The Flames are coming off their best meet of 2021 to date, placing 20th at the FSU XC Invite/Pre-Nationals on Oct. 15. Liberty finished one spot and nine points ahead of North Florida that day.

    Liberty’s top five runners at Pre-Nationals all set 8K personal bests, including Kandie (23:55.5), Drew (24:02.1), Landon Miller (24:37.8), Kyle Harkabus (24:42.3) and Kogei (24:44.6). Kandie became the first Flame since Azaria Kirwa in 2018 to break 24 minutes, while Harkabus and Kogei each dipped under 25:00 for the first time. Additionally, Kandie and Drew each defeated reigning ASUN individual champion Nathan Jubran of North Florida at FSU.

    That same weekend, Lipscomb posted an impressive victory at Texas A&M’s Arturo Barrios Invitational. First-year Bison Grant O’Callaghan (23:45.2) led seven Lipscomb runners under the 24:30 mark on the day. 2019 ASUN individual champion Brent Leber was only the No. 7 runner for Lipscomb at Texas A&M, illustrating the Bisons’ overall team strength.

    Meanwhile, Eastern Kentucky placed third at Virginia’s Panorama Farms XC23 Invitational, led by the front-running trio of Ahmed Jaziri (first place, 23:52.9), Joan Tapias (third, 24:11.9) and Charles Kipchumba (sixth, 24:22.2).

    Men’s Individual Preview
    North Florida’s Nathan Jubran rolled to victory at the Spring 2021 ASUN Championships, defeating teammate Aidan O’Gorman by 31 seconds. He will attempt to become the first back-to-back ASUN men’s cross country individual champion since Northern Kentucky’s J.J. Webber in 2013 and 2014.

    As mentioned previously though, Liberty’s Felix Kandie and Ryan Drew each finished ahead of Jubran at the FSU XC Invite/Pre-Nationals. They will try to become the Flames’ first ASUN men’s cross country victor since Azaria Kirwa in 2018.

    Drew has placed inside the top five at both of his previous ASUN Cross Country Championships appearances (fourth in 2019 and fifth in spring 2021). Meanwhile, 2019 runner-up Kandie is seeking his fourth career All-ASUN cross country finish. Only two Flames have ever earned four all-conference medals at the Division I level, including Josh Edmonds (2006-08, 2010) and Josh McDougal (2004-07), both in the Big South Conference.

    Any of a number of Lipscomb runners could compete for first place. Southeast Louisiana transfer Grant O’Callaghan paced the Bisons in their last meet, while 2019 ASUN champion Brent Leber was Lipscomb’s No. 1 finisher at the Louisville Classic earlier this month.

    Eastern Kentucky’s Ahmed Jaziri could be tabbed the individual favorite entering Saturday’s race though. The defending Ohio Valley Conference cross country champion has finished first and second in his two races this fall. He competed at the NCAA national meet in cross country (71st), indoor track (3K – 6th) and outdoor track (steeplechase – 10th) in 2021, joining Kandie in the NCAA steeplechase final in June.

    The last three ASUN men’s cross country individual champions have gone on to race at that season’s NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.

    Women’s Team Preview
    Defending champion Liberty enters Saturday’s race owning its first-ever national ranking (No. 24) and its best-ever ranking within the Southeast Region (No. 3). The Lady Flames will aim for their first back-to-back conference titles since 2009 and 2010 (Big South).

    In order to do so, Liberty will have to defeat a field headlined by perennial ASUN power Lipscomb. The Bisons have finished inside the top two at this meet for 11 straight years, including eight titles and three runner-up finishes.

    Lipscomb (No. 8) and Kennesaw State (No. 12) are both ranked within the South Region, while Eastern Kentucky (No. 15) joins Liberty in the Southeast Region rankings. EKU won the last nine Ohio Valley Conference titles, while fellow ASUN newcomer Central Arkansas captured the last two Southland Conference team crowns.

    The Lady Flames are led by the dynamic duo of Adelyn Ackley and Calli Doan, who have placed 1-2 individually at the ASUN Cross Country Championships in both 2019 and Spring 2021.

    Liberty also returns four other all-conference performers from last year’s championship team, including Grace Dwyer (third place), Noel Palmer (seventh), Marie Hostetler (eighth) and Anna Hostetler (14th). Dwyer will aim for her fifth career cross country conference title. Prior to arriving at Liberty last year, Dwyer helped Furman capture SoCon championships in 2016, 2017 and 2019.

    Those six runners led the Lady Flames to an eighth-place finish at the FSU XC Invite/Pre-Nationals two weeks ago, ahead of then No. 24 Georgetown, No. 27 Kentucky and No. 28 Toledo.

    Ackley (20:04.9), Doan (20:05.0) and Anna Hostetler (21:16.2) all achieved 6K personal-best times at FSU, with both Ackley and Doan breaking the school record that had stood for six years.

    Saturday will be Liberty’s first 5K race of the year, following 6Ks at the Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational (Sept. 10), Roy Griak Invitational (Sept. 24) and FSU XC Invite/Pre-Nationals (Oct. 15).

    Like their male counterparts, the Lipscomb women’s team is coming off a team title at Texas A&M’s Arturo Barrios Invitational two weeks ago. Lydia Miller paced five Bisons under 21:30 in the 6K with a 20:35.5 for fourth place. Miller (fifth place) and teammate Colbi Borland (10th) are the only non-Liberty returnees from the top 10 of the Spring 2021 ASUN Championships.

    Kennesaw State could also contend for a lofty finish, led by the talented trio of Sarah Hendrick, Nyah Hernandez and Katie Meyer. Hendrick was a 2021 All-American in the 800, both indoors and outdoors. Hernandez clocked a 16:52 5K to finish 11 seconds ahead of Miller at the North Alabama Showcase on Sept. 17. Meanwhile, Meyer was the ASUN 10K champion on the track in May.

    Women’s Individual Preview
    Liberty’s Adelyn Ackley and Calli Doan have finished 1-2, in that order, at both the 2019 and Spring 2021 ASUN Cross Country Championships.

    The Lady Flames’ talented pair is favored to sweep the top two spots again on Saturday, but the order of finish is anyone’s guess. Ackley has crossed the finish line ahead of Doan at all three races this season, but the last two have been extremely close. Ackley and Doan were awarded the same time (21:04.5) at the Roy Griak Invitational, while Ackley edged her teammate by 24 thousandths of a second at the FSU XC Invite/Pre-Nationals.

    Speaking of the FSU XC Invite/Pre-Nationals, Ackley (20:04.9) and Doan (20:05.0) both broke the Liberty 6K record that had stood for six years. They finished sixth and seventh, respectively, defeating a number of All-Americans in the process.

    Ackley is trying to become the second three-time women’s champion in meet history. Sarah Howard of Georgia State captured the ASUN title in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

    Only one Lady Flame has ever won three individual conference championships in women’s cross country. Jennifer Klugh was the Big South champion in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

    Klugh is the only Lady Flame who has ever earned four women’s cross country all-conference honors at the Division I level, a feat Doan could match with a top-14 finish on Saturday. Prior to Doan’s back-to-back runner-up finishes, she placed fifth at the ASUN meet as a freshman in 2018.

    Grace Dwyer, who placed third behind teammates Ackley and Doan at the Spring 2021 ASUN meet, has a chance to do one better. An all-conference recognition on Saturday would be the fifth of her career in cross country, also including the three she won while competing for Furman (2016, 2017 and 2019).

    Other than the Lady Flames, other individuals to watch for include Lipscomb’s Lydia Miller, Jacksonville’s Hayleigh Palotti, Kennesaw State’s Sarah Hendrick and Nyah Hernandez and the Eastern Kentucky duo of Jone Zabaleta Larranaga and Laura Taborda.

    Miller, who placed fifth at the Spring 2021 ASUN meet, has posted impressive times of 17:00 (5K) and 20:35 (6K) this fall.

    Palotti opened her season with back-to-back individual titles at the Mountain Dew Gator Cross Country Invitational and UCF Cross Country Invite. She came in fifth at the 2019 ASUN Cross Country Championships.

    Hendrick, who came in eighth at the 2019 ASUN meet, is coming off a third-place showing in the UAB Blazer Classic with a career-best 6K time of 21:26.9. Hernandez had the best performance of any ASUN runner at the Sept. 17 North Alabama Showcase, placing sixth in an impressive 5K time of 16:52.

    Taborda is the defending Ohio Valley Conference women’s cross country champion. She and Zabaleta Larranaga each posted top-10 finishes at the Panorama Farms XC23 Invitational two weeks ago.