There are just a few days remaining in the decade, and everyone loves lists, so here’s our list of the most important Liberty Athletic Achievements from the 2010s in chronological order:
2010-2011 – SAM CHELANGA WINS 3 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
Continuing a storied Liberty track & field and cross country program, Sam Chelanga won three NCAA National Championships during his career with the Flames. First, he won the 10,000 meter Championship at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championship in 2010. Then, Chelanga won the Cross Country Championship in 2010, and he also won the 5,000 meter Championship at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 2011.
MAY 2012 – GOLF FINISHES 10TH NATIONALLY
The Liberty men’s golf program advanced to the NCAA Men’s Golf National Championship after winning the Greensboro Regional. The Flames would finish 10th, one of the best team finishes, regardless of sport, in school history.
SEPTEMBER 2012 – ASOR LAUNCHED
Ok, it’s not really an achievement for the Athletic Department, but it’s important to us! Thank you all for joining us along this journey.
MARCH 2013 – BASKETBALL GETS HOT, ADVANCES TO NCAAS
Dale Layer and the Flames might have lost 20 games on the season, but Liberty went dancing as they got hot at the right time. The Flames won four straight games in Conway, South Carolina, to advance to the program’s third ever NCAA Tournament. Liberty would lose on a last second shot, 73-72, against NC A&T in the First Four in Dayton.
MAY 2013 – BASEBALL GETS HOT AND ADVANCES TO REGIONAL FINAL
Under Jim Toman, the Liberty baseball team had an average 2013 regular season, finishing 29-28 entering the Big South Tournament. Things would change in a dramatic way as the Flames hosted the Big South Tournament. After falling to Radford in the opening game, Liberty would run off 5 straight victories to advance to the NCAA Regional in Columbia. The Flames weren’t done there as they defeated Clemson twice to advance to the Regional Finals where the Flames would fall to South Carolina, 6-4.
NOVEMBER 2014 – FOOTBALL MAKES PLAYOFFS FOR FIRST TIME
It looked like the Flames were headed towards another disappointing football season ending without an appearance in the FCS playoffs. Since 2007, Liberty was right on the doorstep of making the playoffs, but always coming up just short. It looked like 2014 would be more of the same. That’s until Chima Uzowihe got his hand on the Alex Catron 24-yard field goal attempt to vault the Flames to the 15-14 win over #1 Coastal Carolina. The following week, the Flames kept the magic alive with a 26-21 win at James Madison. The season ended on December 6th with a 29-22 loss at #5 Villanova.
APRIL 2015 – RITCHIE MCKAY REHIRED
In the spring of 2015, the Liberty men’s basketball program was at its lowest point, possibly ever. The Flames were coming off three straight 20 loss seasons and had lost 84 games over the previous four seasons under Dale Layer. Enter Ritchie McKay who returned to Liberty Mountain after a six-year hiatus at Virginia. Since then, the basketball program has grown at an astronomical pace, going from one of the worst programs in the country to flirting with a top 25 ranking.
NOVEMBER 2016 – IAN MCCAW HIRED AS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR
Liberty made national news when President Falwell announced former Baylor AD Ian McCaw as Liberty’s athletic director, replacing Jeff Barber. This move was crucial to the success we are just now beginning to see as the athletic program is having unprecedented success in such a quick time.
FEBRUARY 2017 – LIBERTY ANNOUNCES MOVE TO FBS
February 17, 2017 will long be remembered as one of the biggest days in Liberty Athletics history. On that day, President Falwell and AD McCaw announced the Flames would be moving to the FBS ranks as an Independent.
SEPTEMBER 2017 – FOOTBALL DEFEATS BAYLOR
Liberty defeated its first ever FBS Power 5 opponent just months after announcing its move to the FBS ranks. For this game, the Flames were still an FCS member, and were spearheaded by the breakout performances of Buckshot Calvert and Antonio Gandy-Golden. Calvert completed 44-of-60 passes for 4477 yards and 3 touchdowns while AGG had 13 receptions for 192 yards and 2 touchdowns in the team’s 48-45 win.
MAY 2018 – LIBERTY ANNOUNCES MOVE TO ASUN
With the football team leaving the Big South to become an FBS Independent, it left a huge question mark around the rest of Liberty’s 20 Division I athletic teams. That question was answered when Liberty officially announced a move to the ASUN from the Big South for the rest of its sports.
MAY 2018 – SOFTBALL HAS HISTORIC SEASON
For the first time since 2011, Liberty’s softball team advanced to the NCAA Tournament following its Big South Tournament Championship. Making its third NCAA postseason appearance in program history, the Lady Flames pushed its winning streak to 19 games with wins over Hofstra and South Carolina, the first two tournament wins in program history. The #10 Gamecocks would come back to win the final two games to win the Regional and advance to the Super Regionals.
DECEMBER 2018 – HUGH FREEZE HIRED AS FOOTBALL COACH
Following the 2018 football season, head coach Turner Gill announced his retirement, and Liberty AD Ian McCaw hired Hugh Freeze shortly thereafter. Freeze was out of coaching the prior two years, but had successful stints as a head coach at both Arkansas State and Ole Miss.
DECEMBER 2018 – LIBERTY BASKETBALL DEFEATS UCLA
The men’s basketball team would send shockwaves throughout the NCAA world by defeating the UCLA Bruins, who would fire their coach Steve Alford following the game. The win was not a fluke as the Flames went on to prove the team was on the verge of something special.
MARCH 2019 – BASKETBALL MAKES HISTORIC RUN
Under head coach Ritchie McKay, Liberty headed to Nashville to take Lipscomb on March 10th with the ASUN Tournament Championship and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line. The two teams had split the regular season matchup but the Bisons held homecourt. The Flames won, 74-68, thanks to a late clutch three-pointer by Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz to advance to the program’s 4th ever NCAA Tournament. The fun wouldn’t stop there as Liberty, armed with the program’s best ever seed at #12, defeated #5 seed Mississippi State, 80-76. In the second round, Liberty lead Virginia Tech at halftime, but were outlasted by a final score of 67-58.
MAY 2019 – BASEBALL REACHES REGIONALS, DEFEATS TENNESSEE
After flirting with an ASUN regular season title only to come up just short on the final day, the Flames were able to win 4 straight games to come out of the loser’s bracket and win the ASUN Tournament Championship to advance to the Chapel Hill Regional. Behind Scott Jackson, Liberty would defeat Tennessee, 6-1, to move into the winner’s bracket before losing to UNC and Tennessee the next two days.
DECEMBER 2019 – FOOTBALL MAKES HISTORY BY ADVANCING TO FIRST BOWL GAME, WINNING CURE BOWL
On the regular season finale, the Liberty Flames defeated New Mexico State to become bowl eligible for the first time in program history. One week later, Liberty officially accepted an invitation to the Cure Bowl, and on December 21st, the Flames would defeat Georgia Southern, 23-16, in the team’s first ever bowl game.
DECEMBER 2019 – BASKETBALL 1 OF 3 REMAINING UNBEATENS
Entering Liberty’s final game of the calendar year at LSU, the Flames are one of only three remaining unbeatens in college basketball. At 14-0, McKay’s squad owns the longest winning streak in the country.