LYNCHBURG, Va. - The Liberty men's and women's track & field teams successfully resumed the 2011-12 indoor track & field season at Wednesday evening's Hornet Sprints, Jumps and Throws Challenge inside Lynchburg College's Wake Field House. The Flames and Lady Flames excelled in all three areas described in the meet's title, winning 11 of 16 events they competed in and notching a pair of ECAC/IC4A qualifiers.
Shelley Parker hit the ECAC standard in her season debut with her winning women's pole vault clearance of 11-9.75, while Roderick Spruel's clocking of 6.41 seconds in the men's 55-meter dash punches his ticket to the IC4A meet.
Freshman Melissa Rohwer and Ryan Smith were two other individual standouts for the Flames, as each athlete won a pair of event titles on Wednesday.
Women's Meet Recap
Parker's successful first-attempt clearance at 11-9.75 equaled her indoor personal best in the pole vault and enabled her to win the event for the second straight year at this meet. Her closest competitors were teammates Rachel Houseknecht and Tami Tolsma, who shared second place at 10-0.
Rohwer won both women's horizontal jump crowns with ease, thanks to a 17-6 long jump and a 37-1 triple jump. Lady Flame teammates followed in second place in each discipline, with Mia Aghaji taking the runner-up position in the long jump at 16-7 and Bari Minter doing so in the triple jump with a 34-4 leap.
Liberty was dominant in the women's throwing events, sweeping the top six positions in the weight throw and going 1-2-3 in the shot put. Melinda Bendik led the charge in the weight throw, defending her 2011 Hornet Sprints, Jumps and Throws Challenge championship with a 50-8 toss. Mychelle Cumings followed in second place with a personal-best 50-0.5 mark that makes her just the fifth Lady Flame ever to eclipse 50 feet in the event.
In the shot put, the final event of the evening, Emily Woods took home top honors with her personal-best heave of 44-2 that just missed the ECAC standard. As a consolation prize of sorts, she moved up to No. 2 in program history for the event, trailing only teammate Cumings on the rapidly-changing list. Defending shot put champion Rachel Barnes was second on Wednesday, at 41-11.5.
Olivia Charnuski entered as the defending meet champion in the women's 55-meter hurdles, but she was denied a repeat by teammate and fellow senior Houseknecht, who edged Charnuski, 8.26 to 8.29. Houseknecht's preliminary time of 8.25 was tantalizingly close to the ECAC standard of 8.24 seconds, but did boost her to No. 6 on Liberty's all-time performance list.
The Lady Flames' final event champion on the night was one of the teams' busiest competitors inside Wake Field House, freshman Audrey Bamford. Bamford participated in four different events, claiming the high jump title with a personal-best leap of 5-3.75.
Even the one event the Liberty women's team did not win was notable, as freshman Abigail Flower placed a close second in the 55-meter dash final in her collegiate debut. Competing just around the corner from her high school alma mater, E.C. Glass, Flower clocked a time of 7.23 in the prelims to secure the No. 4 spot in program history.
Men's Meet Recap
Spruel was nipped for the victory in the men's 55-meter dash final by one-hundredth of a second, but his runner-up clocking of 6.41 seconds easily met the IC4A standard of 6.48.
For the second straight year, Smith won both the men's shot put and weight throw championships at this meet, doing so in dominating fashion. The redshirt junior reached a season-best 56-6.5 in the shot put to win by more than six feet, after his 56-4.75 weight throw mark had landed five feet ahead of his nearest rival.
Liberty long jumpers finished first, second, third and fourth, paced by the 21-6 leap of Tarell Williams. He finished 5.5 inches ahead of teammate Kevin Reddington's 21-0.5 effort.
The Flames also made a strong team showing in the men's pole vault results, with Kolby Shepherd taking top honors at 15-1. Jon Drablos and Cody Fridgen were two of the three competitors who shared second place.
Other noteworthy performances by the Liberty men's team included Jacob DeValve's runner-up showing in the 55 hurdles final at 8.19 seconds and Tim Abbott's personal-best 48-4 shot put mark for third place.
Liberty will compete in its second meet of the week Friday and Saturday, when the Flames and Lady Flames head to Blacksburg, Va. for the Hokie Invitational. The meet will be contested inside Rector Field House, the site of the 2012 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships. Friday's first events will get underway at 5 p.m., with Saturday's action set to commence at 11 a.m.