Paddy Grandinali and Benji Szalai win for HPU Men’s Track and Field at the Liberty Open

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Wins by freshmen Paddy Grandinali and Benji Szalai headlined the High Point University men’s track and field performance at the Liberty Open on Friday and Saturday in Lynchburg, Va. Grandinali won the 5,000-meters on Friday and Szalai won the 3,000-meters on Saturday.

“We did a pretty good job up in Lynchburg this weekend. Paddy and Benji managed to win some races which is what you are always looking to do. In addition we put up some good finishes and times in several other races. Our young field athletes are also really starting to pick it up and perform better each time out.”

Running in his first collegiate race, Grandinali finished with a time of 15:23.45 in the 5,000-meters. The freshman finished nearly eight-seconds clear of the field for the win.

Szalai also picked up a win in his first race of the indoor season, finishing with a time of 8:42.36 in the 3,000-meters. Szalai finished just ahead of a pair of racers from conference rival Radford to pick up the win.

Junior Evan Emery finished second in the 60-meter dash final with a time of 6.94. The junior was the top collegiate finisher in the event, coming in behind only professional runner Keith Ricks.

Following his win in the 3,000 meters at the JDL Wake Forest Invitational last week senior Dakota Peachee turned in another good result with a second-place finish in the 1,000-meter run. Peachee crossed the line with a time of 2:32.73.

The Panthers success in the distance events continued in the mile where HPU placed three runners in the top 10. Sophomore Jeff LaCoste led the High Point finishers with a time of 4:19.93, good enough for third on the day. Peachee finished in eighth with a time of 4:25.30 and sophomore Reece Ayers finished in ninth with a time of 4:26.05.

Freshman Dennis Crawford and sophomore Ben Gjebre finished back-to-back in the 500-meter run. Crawford finished in fifth with a time of 1:09.30 and Gjebre finished in sixth with a time of 1:10.03. Freshman Nick Hula was the top finisher for HPU in the 400-meters, finishing in 11th with a career-best time of 52.47.

In the field events, sophomore Christian Spaulding continued to extend his school record in the weight throw with a toss of 14.93 meters (48-11.75) to finish sixth on the day. The Liberty Open is the third-straight competition where Spaulding has set the HPU Div. I weight throw record.

Freshman Austin Miller finished fourth in the pole vault with a career-best height of 4.5 meters (14-9). Freshman Adam DeVito finished in fifth in the long jump with a career-best leap of 6.89 meters (22-7.25). Sophomore Max Coleman finished in sixth in the high jump, clearing a career-best height of 1.94 meters (6-4.25).

High Point continues its indoor season next weekend when the team will take part in the JDL Hilton Garden Invitational in Winston, Salem, N.C., on Feb. 1-2. The Invitational will be the third competition that HPU has taken part in this season at the JDL Fast Track, the host site of the 2013 Big South Indoor Track and Field Championship.