The goal for the Lipscomb Bisons and Lady Bisons is to finish higher than their rankings in the Atlantic Sun Cross Country Championships.
In the final conference poll of the season the Bisons head into the championships ranked fifth. The Lady Bisons are rated seventh.
“Our men are ready to go,” said Lipscomb cross country coach Bill Taylor. “Our women on paper are the seventh best team. I’ve scored it on paper. They are ranked where they should be. Now it is a question of whether we can put it all together Saturday and finish higher than that.
“The goal for the women is to finish fourth or better. Is that realistic? I think it is. The goal for the men would be to at least tie the best finish in the conference which is fifth. And that is where we are ranked.”
The Bisons will be represented by senior Ryan Chastain, freshman Ashton Fisher, freshman Tim Muller, red-shirt junior Jared Carlson, freshman Jeff Musick, sophomore Hunter Hethcoat, freshman Mike Yang and sophomore Benton Reed.
Chastain was an All-Conference performer last season, finishing sixth in the championship race. The Bisons also finished sixth in the championships as a team last season.
“Anything can happen on race day,” said Taylor. “He is capable of winning it. It is not like he has to do this or that, but we are expecting him to be in the top five or six.”
Forming the Lady Bisons team are junior Caitlin Anderson, sophomore Catherine Beal, junior Jenny Randolph, sophomore Louisa Van Batavia, freshman Shelby Marvel, freshman Amanda Twigg, freshman Priya Pappu, senior Shannon Shoemake and sophomore Ashley Lehman.
Anderson, who finished 11th last season, was named second team All-Conference last season.
“We want to make it important and we want them to be focused,” said Taylor. “I want our runners to have a purpose and to know what they are going to do.
“It is more about being tough. If you don’t have the mindset to stick it out, and you don’t know what you are going to do, it is not going to go well. The sport is all about intense pain. You have to have a plan to get through that. When the pain hits is when you find out who you are.”
The race is hosted this Saturday by Stetson University. The course for the race will be in the Sperling Sports Complex in DeLand, Fla.
Taylor doesn’t think his runners will be intimidated because they are running in the conference championships. But unlike other A-Sun sports, where runners finish Saturday will determine All-Conference and All-Freshmen teams.
“We do look at it differently,” said Taylor. “There is a lot more strategy. There are fewer people to wade through or block your view. All of the honors are from this meet.
“We look at the races before as practice. We want to do well, but we also treat those races as practice…as opportunities to work on getting better for the championships. Hopefully, we will have our best race of the year there."
Belmont’s women and ETSU’s men won the titles last year.