While it may not carry the same fanfare as the schools’ clashes on the football field or basketball court, one of the Big South Conference’s better rivalries resumes Thursday with Coastal Carolina and Liberty expected to duel for the league’s indoor women’s track and field championship yet again.
The Chanticleers and Flames have combined to win every team title in the sport’s history as a sponsored Big South championship event, dating back to 1998. Coastal had won five out of six championships before Liberty claimed the last three.
And judging by the pre-meet rankings, one of those two teams should come out on top again as the conference convenes Thursday and Friday at the JDL Fast Track in Winston Salem, N.C.
“There is a real intense track rivalry between Liberty and Coastal,” CCU coach Alan Connie said. “The [athletes] are out to maximize our team production and they’re out to beat anybody, but I think there’s a little extra motivation when it’s head-to-head with a Liberty athlete. ... The rivalry is a strong one. It’s been going on for a lot of years.”
As for individuals to note, senior Erica Peake is the Chants’ leader and one of the top athletes in the conference. She enters the championships ranked first in the Big South in the 60 meters, the 200 meters, the long jump and is the anchor leg on Coastal’s top-ranked 4x400-meter relay.
Freshman Jessica Gelibert, meanwhile, is ranked first in the 400 meters and is also part of that relay.
Connie said this is the deepest team he’s ever had for the indoor championship, and according to the coach, the conference rankings have Coastal first and Liberty a close second going into the meet. But he’s told his team not to put any stock into such things at this point.
“As I’ve put it out to the team, these things aren’t decided on paper,” he said. “On paper, last outdoor season they were 30 points better than us and we ended up winning by 60. You’ve got to go out and perform on the track.”
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