CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Liberty enjoyed a most successful afternoon at Friday's Queen City Invite at McAlpine Creek Park. Senior All-American Azaria Kirwa won the men's 8K in 23:53 for his third consecutive victory to begin the 2018 season, leading the Flames' 1-2-3-4 sweep of the individual standings. As a result, Liberty ran away with the men's team championship by 97 points (18-115) over runner-up Embry-Riddle in a field of 30 squads.
Sophomore Noel Palmer captured the women's 5K title in a school-record time of 17:09, earning the first individual cross country victory of her collegiate career. The Lady Flames finished a close second to Duke (56-63) in the final women's team standings.
Top 5 Men's Teams (30 Total Teams Entered):
1) Liberty - 18
2) Embry-Riddle - 115
3) Queens - 119
4) Washington & Lee - 170
5) Florida Southern - 171
Top 5 Women's Teams (28 Total Teams Entered):
1) Duke - 56
2) Liberty - 63
3) Elon - 80
4) Embry-Riddle - 148
5) Florida Southern - 180
Men's 8K Individual Results (249 Total Finishers):
1) Azaria Kirwa, Liberty - 23:53
2) Felix Kandie, Liberty - 24:16
3) Augostine Lisoreng, Liberty - 24:17
4) Benjamin Klemmeck, Liberty - 24:35
5) Mason Jones, Florida Southern - 24:36
8) James Zentmeyer, Liberty - 24:47
16) Jacob Underwood, Liberty - 25:16
23) Paul Squires, Liberty - 25:40
37) Andrew Stanley, Liberty - 25:56
68) Nick Doan, Liberty - 26:45
Women's 5K Individual Results (262 Total Finishers):
1) Noel Palmer, Liberty - 17:09
2) Coralea Geraniotis, Elon - 17:25
3) Liz Lansing, Duke - 17:34
4) Brenda Ayuk, Kennesaw State - 17:38
5) Sarah LaTour, Unattached - 17:45
8) Calli Parlier, Liberty - 17:48
15) Greer Wilson, Liberty - 17:59
20) Kyley Sorg, Liberty - 18:14
28) Emma Bower, Liberty - 18:25
29) Lauren Hirneisen, Liberty - 18:26
35) Sophia Jantomaso, Liberty - 18:32
36) Jamie Anderson, Liberty - 18:33
37) Gabriella Delbo, Liberty - 18:34
40) Kammi Kurtz, Liberty - 18:38
46) Naomi Bowser, Liberty - 18:46
51) Heidi Smith, Liberty - 18:50
53) Delaney McDowell, Liberty - 18:53
58) Jessica Rogers, Liberty - 18:57
65) Madison MacPherson, Liberty - 19:03
83) Anna Van Wyk, Liberty - 19:23
87) Rebekah Leone, Liberty - 19:27
121) Natalee Cole, Liberty - 20:16
164) Ava Perez Erickson, Liberty - 21:20
• Azaria Kirwa's individual victory was his third straight to begin the 2018 season and the fourth of his career. His successful senior season has also featured first-place finishes at the Virginia Tech Invitational and Iona College Meet of Champions.
• Kirwa is the first Liberty men's cross country runner to win three consecutive races since Sam Chelanga ended his collegiate career with eight straight victories, spanning the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
• Kirwa has now finished inside the top five at nine of his last 10 cross country races.
• Felix Kandie (24:16), Augostine Lisoreng (24:17) and Benjamin Klemmeck (24:35), who placed second, third and fourth, respectively, each broke 25:00 for the first time in an 8K.
• The Liberty men's team, which opened the season with a victory at the Virginia Tech Invitational, has recorded two first-place finishes in the same year for the first time since 2013 (VMI Invitational and Big South Championship).
• Liberty's winning men's score of 18 points was the Flames' lowest point total since claiming the Hagan Stone Park Classic championship with a perfect score of 15 on Oct. 3, 2009.
• Noel Palmer's 17:09 clocking eclipsed the Liberty women's cross country 5K record of 17:11.1, set by defending NCAA national champion Ednah Kurgat on Sept. 26, 2015 at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational in Earlysville, Va.
• This is the second time a Liberty women's cross country 5K standard has been achieved at McAlpine Creek Park. Jennifer Klugh clocked a then record time of 17:28.29 at the Charlotte Invitational on Sept. 30, 2011.
• Palmer became the first Lady Flame to win a cross country race since Sept. 2, 2015, when Ednah Kurgat took top honors at the UVa Duals in Earlysville, Va.
• Palmer's victory came by 16 seconds over reigning CAA women's 5K and 10K champion Coralea Geraniotis of Elon.
• The Lady Flames showcased their team depth, with three runners (Palmer, Calli Parlier and Greer Wilson) breaking 18:00 and 14 runners dipping under 19:00. Four-time Big South women's 800 champion Delaney McDowell clocked an impressive 18:53 in her first career cross country 5K race.
In two weeks, Liberty will divide its team for the first time this season. Some Flames and Lady Flames will return to McAlpine Creek Park on Oct. 12 for the Royals Challenge. The women's 5K is slated for 4:30 p.m., with the men's 8K at 5 p.m.
Liberty will also be represented at Wisconsin Pre-Nationals on Oct. 13 at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course in Madison, Wis., site of the 2018 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. The day's first of six races will go off at 11 a.m. Eastern.
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