MOST IMPROVED AWARD:
Priya Pappu, Soph., Santa Clara, Calif.: Coach Bill Taylor described Priya as the perfect example of perseverance and patience this year. After a rough summer recovering from an injury she incurred at the end of track, she started the season finishing 20th in the team time trial. She finished the season setting all-time PRs in both the 5-K and 6-K and earning a top-9 spot on the Conference team and a top-seven spot on the Regional team.
â€œPriya is an inspiration for everyone and the perfect example of what can happen when you just keep working and striving to get better,â€ Taylor said. â€œShe had every reason to pack it in mentally after a very rough summer and difficult start. I think most people would have just given up mentally after the time trial. Now everyone on our team has seen that no matter what your circumstances or how you might logic out the future, you never know what will happen.
â€œAnd anything can happen. This message that everyone on our team watched unfold will make our entire program stronger. Priya wasnâ€™t our fastest runner this year. She didnâ€™t make the travel squad for Vermont or Oregon. But when it counted most she was there and I think she had the best season of anyone on the team.â€œ
Ben Wright, Soph., Vincennes, Tenn.: Ben joined the program as a walk-on last season and almost made the travel roster this season. He set huge PRs and showed dramatic improvement in his assertiveness in practice and in races.
â€œBen really impressed everyone this season, especially in the second half of the season,â€ Taylor said. â€œHe showed immense desire to improve and to figure this sport out. Itâ€™s a tough sport and you have to have that driveâ€¦that desire to succeed and get better. Ben stepped it up in practice and in competition. Heâ€™s going to develop into a really really good collegiate distance runner.â€
â€FIGHTINâ€™â€ BISON AWARD: The â€œFightinâ€™â€ Bison Award is the person who demonstrated the most guts, mental toughness and physical toughness.
Catherine Beals, Jr., Glasgow, Ky.: Catherine earns this award for the second year in a row. She was also voted â€œFightinâ€™ â€œ Bison for Track & Field last season.
â€œCatherine is just simply a fighter,â€Taylor said. â€œShe has so much desire. Itâ€™s obvious that everyone respects Catherine and the fire and desire she has to be incredible. And it isnâ€™t just for herself. She wants this program to go win Nationals. She wants to perform for her team and her teams success as much as she wants to perform for herself. â€œ
Catherine has also been voted most improved (XC 2008), Total Commitment (TF 2010) and MVP (TF 2009).
Isaiah Greer, Soph., Johnson City, Tenn.: Like Catherine, Isaiah has been voted â€œFightinâ€™ â€œBison for the second year in a row and also earned the same award in track last season.
â€œIsaiah embodies the Fightinâ€™ Bison award,â€ Taylor said. â€œHeâ€™s one of those rare athletes that you never ever question whether he is giving his best. You just know he is. He fights for every inch and maximizes his ability. He is an example of what can be achieved if you want it bad enough and have the courage to charge full on after it.â€
FOR THE TEAM AWARD: The For the Team Award is given to the person who is the best teammate and the person who is the most positive, motivating and caring.
Caitlin Anderson, Senior, Franklin, Tenn.: Caitlin has been a team captain for three years. She has also earned team awards for MVP (XC 2009), Total Commitment (XC 2008) and For the Team (TF 2010 and TF 2009).
â€œCaitlin has been a great leader,â€ Taylor said. â€œBut this year she took it to a new level. Sheâ€™s been in our top two since she was a freshman. This year she had a good year, but with so many new girls joining the program and such a rapid advancement in our performances she found herself down the depth chart.
â€œInstead of worrying about it, she just led this young team. She helped everyone she could, she encouraged, she directedâ€¦she simply stepped up for her teammates. In one example of this she won her section of the Louisville Classic, and led the Lipscomb B team to a team victory, going 1-3 and six in the top ten. Iâ€™m very proud of all that Caitlin has accomplished here as a leader and as an athlete.â€
Jonathan Williams, Senior, Knoxville, Tenn.: Jonathan served as a team captain this year.
â€œJonathan really loves his team and truly desires this program to be successful,â€ Taylor said. â€œHe was there for everyone this season and really did all the little things to help each person succeed.â€
HEART OF GOLD AWARD: For the runner who demonstrates the highest character, who doesnâ€™t compromise and who does the right thing even when nobody is looking.
Jenny Randolph, Senior, Knoxville, Tenn.: Jenny has previously been voted Total Commitment (XC 2009), For the Team (XC 2009), For the Team (TF 2010),â€ Fightinâ€™ â€œ Bison (TF 2009) and Total Commitment (TF 2009).
â€œWell, Jenny has been a gigantic part of this program for four years,â€ Taylor said. â€œShe has won a variety of different awards from the team, which just shows how much esteem everyone has for her.
â€œJenny has been like a team mom for the women. Sheâ€™s such a giving person, is always upbeat and truly has a heart for others. She loves God, loves her teammates, loves people and does all she can to help everyone.â€
Mike Yang, Sophomore, Oceanside, N.Y.: â€œMike just loves people and has a great heart,â€ Taylor said. â€œHe is super nice and his teammates all respect him. Everyone talks about how genuine Mike is too. They respect that he is the same person in all situations. Heâ€™s a great guy with a desire to help everyone.â€
TOTAL COMMITMENT AWARD: For the runner that did it right, did it all, did it all the time and did all the little things.
Tessa Hoefle, Fresh., Winnebago, Ill. and Alex Newby, Knoxville, Tenn.: Two freshmen tied for the Total Commitment Award this year. Alex Newby made the A-Sun All-Freshman team and earned All-A-Sun honors this season.
â€œOur freshmen really helped set the tone for this great season,â€ Taylor said. â€œTessa and Alex were amazing examples of the desire to be incredible and the willingness and commitment to do everything possible to succeed at the highest level. This award can be seen as a symbol of what it takes to be an elite program.
â€œ A lot of people run. Only a few strive for greatness with all they have and sacrifice. For our team this is becoming the norm. Commitment is contagious, especially when the results are seen. Tessa and Alex are tremendous examples of doing all the little things and the big things in pursuit of their best. They are an inspiration to everyone, and they both have incredibly bright futures.â€
Geoff Musick, Soph., Nashville, Tenn.: Geoff earned All-A-Sun honors this season. He is only the second man in Lipscomb history to earn All-A-Sun honors (Ryan Chastain is the other, in 2008 and 2009).
â€œGeoff is constantly striving to be the best he can be,â€ Taylor said. â€œLast year he watched how our top guy, Ryan Chastain, worked and Iâ€™ve seen him working to follow in Ryanâ€™s example. He is definitely working to take care of business daily and giving all he can.â€
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: For the runner who was most valuable to the team in every way and who contributed the most to the teams success.
Dani Walker, Fresh., Wichita, Kan.: Dani led the LU women in five of seven meets. She set school records in the 4-K (14:49), 5-K (17:52) and 6-K (21:14). She finished fourth in the A-Sun Conference to earn All-A-Sun honors. Fourth is the highest individual finish in Lipscomb history. She was the highest placing freshman in the A-Sun meet, earning A-Sun Freshman of the Year honors, the first for a Lipscomb woman. Dani broke 18 minutes three times this season, besting her high school 5-K PR of 19:45. She led the Lipscomb women to second place in the A-Sun Conference and ninth place in the NCAA DI South Region, both best ever finishes for the program.
â€œDani had a phenomenal freshman season,â€ Taylor said. â€œIt was a historic season really. She is just such a tough and driven competitor and she has barely scratched the surface of her ability. She wants to be amazing and wants the team to be amazing. She will make sure both happen. Dani will have an amazing cross country and track career here and itâ€™s going to be really fun watching her develop and watching the team advance.â€
Tim Muller, Soph., Denver, Colo.: Tim led the Lipscomb men in six of seven meets including the post-season.
â€œTim really set the tone for the menâ€™s team this year.â€ Taylor said. â€œFrom day one he led the way. He set big PRâ€™s this year and was really consistent in all but one race. Unfortunately his conference race was the one poor race, however he bounced back and ran a great race at Regionals. As Tim matures and learns he will rise to that upper level of collegiate distance runner.â€
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: For the freshman that made the biggest impact on the team.
Dani Walker, Wichita, Kan.: Dani led the LU women in five of seven meets. She set school records in the 4-K (14:49), 5-K (17:52) and 6-K (21:14). She finished fourth in the A-Sun Conference to earn All-A-Sun honors. Fourth is the highest individual finish in Lipscomb history. She was the highest placing freshman in the A-Sun meet, earning A-Sun Freshman of the Year honors, the first for a Lipscomb woman. Dani broke 18-minutes three times this season, besting her high school 5-K PR of 19:45. She led the Lipscomb women to second place in the A-Sun Conference and ninth place in the NCAA DI South Region, both best ever finishes for the program.
â€œWe had tremendous contributions from many freshmen and the future is very bright,â€ Taylor said. â€œHowever, Dani did set herself apart and pushed herself and the team to a whole new level. She is the first A-Sun Freshman of the Year winner in Lipscomb history for the men and the women, and combined with Alex Newby as the first two LU women to earn a spot on the A-Sun All-Freshman team. She posted the highest finishes in Lipscomb history at the Conference and Regional meets, and she has so much room to grow. She wants to be incredibleâ€¦she is and will be even more throughout her career.â€
Justin Weise, Austin, Texas.: Justin was consistently the highest freshman finisher on the menâ€™s team this season.
â€œIn menâ€™s cross country, the freshman season is pretty tough,â€ Taylor said. â€œThe men increase their race distance from 5-K to 8-K, which is significant. Justin had a rough start to the season, but rebounded well and established himself as a future force.â€
TEAM CAPTAINS: The team captains for the Lady Bisons are Caitlin Anderson and Jenny Randolph. The Bisons team captains are Benton Reed and Jonathan Williams.