It is even rarer for one of the teams to be ranked in the South Region. The Bisons head into Saturday morning’s Vanderbilt Invitational with the No. 15 spot in the South Region in a poll by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
The Lady Bisons will compete at 9. The Bisons will run at 10. The races will be held at the Vaughn’s Gap Course at Percy Warner Park.
A pancake breakfast sponsored by the Student Government Association and Student Involvement will begin at 8.
“We have talked about the ranking, but I learned a long time ago not to get too worked up about rankings,” said Bill Taylor, Lipscomb’s cross country and track coach. “Sometimes you are not ranked when you should and sometimes you are ranked when you shouldn’t be.
“They are just a gauge. But for us it is great. What I am most surprised about is people outside of Lipscomb are noticing us.”
This the second race of the season for the Bisons and Lady Bisons. The men were third and the women were eighth in the Belmont Opener.
Ryan Chastain, the team leader last season, missed the Belmont Opener to start the season. He is ready to go this weekend, but sickness and injuries have taken a toll on the men’s team for this week.
“Our team is beat up and pretty sick overall,” said Taylor. “Ryan should be pretty good, but I don’t think he will be 100 percent this weekend.”
Taylor is counting heavily on his freshmen to set the pace for the Bisons this season, especially Tim Muller, Ashton Fisher, Isaiah Greer and Jeff Musick.
“We have a special group of freshmen on this team,” said Taylor. “They are more mature than I think most freshmen would be. “They are going run an 8-K for the first time, but I don’t think it will be that tough. They are very competitive. They are excited to be here. They can really see what is possible here.”
Taylor thinks that Chastain’s return will be a plus for the freshmen as they run the 8-K distance.
“Muller should be right there,” said Taylor. “Isaiah Greer has been a pleasant surprise. I knew he was decent runner, but he has really exploded and showed himself to be extremely tough.
“The freshmen, after this 8-K, should be stronger in the next one. It is psychological. Cross country is a painful endeavor. Mentally, you have to keep you mind on the race.”
The women opened the season without Ashley Lehman and Catherine Beals. They are both expected to participate for the Lady Bisons.
“I think the women’s team is getting stronger and stronger, but they are a different team mentally right now,” said Taylor. “The guys are more aggressive and attack. The women are a bit more cautious so far.
“They don’t necessarily need to be like the guys, but they need to be more aggressive and believe in themselves more. The women’s team can be incredible by the end of the season, but they need to make decisions as a group to get them there.”
Caitlin Anderson, an All-A-Sun performer, has taken the lead for the Lady Bisons. Taylor thinks that once the women make a few more adjustments there are several runners who could challenge for the top spot.