Cross Country set to compete in Belmont Opener, Vandy Invite
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Cross Country set to compete in Belmont Opener, Vandy Invite
The Lipscomb Bisons and Lady Bisons Cross Country teams are running in Nashville the next two meets.

The first meet, the Belmont Opener, will take place this Friday at Vaughn's Gap in Percy Warner Park (corner of Old Hickory and State Hwy 100). The women race 4,000m at 5:30 p.m. The the men are scheduled for a 5,000m race at 6 p.m. Competition will include the University of Alabama, Belmont, Bethel, MTSU, University of Tennessee, Tennessee-Martin and UAB.

Two weeks later, on Sept. 20th, Lipscomb will again compete at Vaughn's Gap in the Vanderbilt Invite. The men's 8,000m race is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., with the women's 5000m race following at 10.

The 2008 Bisons and Lady Bisons are teams in transition. The men welcomed 12 new freshmen to the program this year, while the women gained six freshmen and a transfer. The men returned 9 of their 12 from last year, while the women returned all 10 from last years team. Both programs are growing in size and performance.

As an indication of the rapid progress, both teams were voted 5th in the A-Sun preseason polls. These are the highest preseason rankings in Lipscomb NCAA division I history.

"We are a program on the rise." said head coach Bill Taylor. "It is a very exciting time at Lipscomb and I see our men's and women's cross country and track & field programs getting better and better, and at a pretty rapid pace. At the same time we are young and it still takes time to build something amazing. So we expect constant progress while we demonstrate patience with the process.

"The preseason rankings are great because they are our best ever. At the same time fifth isn't where we expect this program to be. We will be a top program in this conference and nationally soon, but we will definitely celebrate each step we take to get there."

The Belmont Opener will be the second meet on the 2008 schedule for Lipscomb Cross Country. The men and women opened the season last weekend at the Mid-America Opener in Evansville, Ind. Ryan Chastain led the men's team while Carolyn Latham led the women.

"Ryan and Carolyn took charge in the first race.," said Taylor. "In that sense we looked a lot like last year. However, our next three men were freshmen and two of the top five women were freshmen. So you can see things are shaking up behind our front-runners. And although our top finishers ran well, the team has closed up on them.

"Of our newcomers, I was really impressed with Benton Reed on the men's side. He had a great race and was just a few seconds from Ryan for most of the race. Nathan Brame and Trace Carlson also ran solid in their collegiate debut.

"For the women, Caitlin Anderson stepped up to finish within seconds of Carolyn and freshman Ashley Lehman ran terrific, finishing right behind Caitlin, with an identical time."

Both teams finished third at Evansville. The men ran without Jared Carlson, who is lost for the season, and usual No. 2 Jordan Wilson, who rolled his ankle minutes before the race. The women ran everyone.

"The course at Evansville surprised us a bit," said Taylor. "When we've raced there late in the year it has been a pretty fast course. We found out after the race Saturday that Evansville let the grass grow long and didn't roll the course, so it was substantially slower than normal with pretty rough footing. I think our athletes were relieved to hear that, since they felt the difference but didn't know why it felt slow."

After the next two meets in Nashville, the teams will hit the road with meets in Chicago, Ill., Louisville, Ky. and Fayetteville, Ark., followed by the A-Sun Championship meet in Macon, Ga. on Nov. 1 and the NCAA I South Regional Championship in Maryville, Tenn., on Nov. 15.