Highlights include varsity meets in Vermont, Oregon and Arkansas, in addition to traditional meets on the Lipscomb home course at the Belmont and Vanderbilt Invitationals.
“I really like our schedule this year,” Taylor said. “It provides some fun travel to be earned by our runners. It has some tough meets against big competition and some more moderate meets to work on things through some fast courses and some tough courses. We also have several rest weekends.
“Basically there is a bit of everything for everyone. I feel like this schedule fits our team and our progress over these three years.”
The Bisons and Lady Bisons open the 2010 season at the Belmont Opener, Friday afternoon (Sept. 3) at Vaughn’s Gap. The men will race a 5-K and the women will race a 4-K in the first meet of the season.
“It’s always good to start with shorter distances in our first meet,” Taylor said. “Vaughn’s Gap is the home course for Lipscomb, Belmont and Vanderbilt and it’s a location we train at all the time. It’s a good honest course, tougher than it looks and a great beginning of the season test on a short course.”
The next weekend the teams will split, with the top seven men and women traveling to Burlington, Vt., to compete in the University of Vermont Invitational on Sunday Sept. 12. The rest of the team will travel to Chattanooga for the Powerade Invite on Friday, Sept 10.
The Vermont meet will feature full collegiate distances of 5-K for the women and 8-K for the men, while the Powerade meet will be two-miles for the women and 5-K for the men.
“I’m excited to travel to Vermont with our varsity squad,” Taylor said. “I’ve always wanted to see that part of the country. I’ve heard it’s just beautiful up there. And the meet will feature several good D-I programs, though it won’t be overwhelmingly big.
“It is also unique in that we will have dinner with Vermont and some of the other teams the night before the race. I think that is pretty cool. Both meets are perfect as a second competition for us.”
On Saturday morning, Sept. 18th, the full men’s and women’s teams will return to Vaughn’s Gap for the Vanderbilt Invitational. Race distances will be 5-K for the women and 8-K for the men. The Lipscomb men won the Vanderbilt Invite in 2009 and will look to repeat in 2010.
On Saturday, Oct. 2, split squads will again compete at two different meets. The top seven men and women will travel to Salem, Ore., for the Willamette Invitational. The rest of the team will travel to the Louisville Classic in Louisville, Ky. Both meets feature 5-K courses for the women and 8-K for the men.
“Both of these meets are prestigious and feature pretty fast courses,” Taylor said. “It will be an incredible opportunity for all of our athletes to show where they are. The Willamette meet has been one of the biggest cross country meets in the Western United States. I’m also kind of fond of the meet because my Northwest University women won the meet in 2002.”
The last split squad weekend will happen Oct. 16th, when the top seven men and women travel to the famous Chile Pepper Invite, hosted by the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, while the rest of the team competes at the Evansville Invite in Indiana. The Chile Pepper races will be contested over 6-K for women and 10-K for men. The Evansville races are 5-K for women and 8-K for men.
“Our top group will get their first taste of the championship distances this season,” Taylor said. “The 6-K and 10-K are the distances for the Regional and National Championship races, so this gives us a chance to navigate those distances once before Regionals. The competition at Chile Pepper is also pretty incredible and it’s a great course.
“The rest of the team get the opportunity to race on another great course that provides an opportunity for fast times. It’s a fun course at Evansville. It is very spectator friendly and if it’s dry it is pretty fast.”
Those not on the travel roster for the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships will travel down to Kennesaw State for a final race on Oct. 22nd.
“This is a great final opportunity for our non-conference roster athletes to finish the season on a high note and get one last race in.” Taylor said.
The top nine men and women compete in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships on Oct. 30th at USC Upstate in Spartanburg, S. C.
“The men have never finished higher than fifth in the conference meet and the women have never finished higher than fourth,” Taylor said. “The goals are high and both teams will be expecting to earn all-time best finishes in 2010.”
From there the top seven men and women compete in the NCAA I South Regional Championships in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday, Nov. 13th.
“We had a good meet at regionals last year _ better than our conference meet really,” Taylor said. “Our goal is to finish higher than ever before this year. It should be a lot of fun.
“ Each year I will try to find a new place to go explore, and as we continue to get better and better we will take our varsity squad to bigger and better meets. It all fits with where we are now and our future plans for this program."