Lipscomb Head Cross Country and Track & Field Coach Bill Taylor released the Lipscomb cross country squads’ schedule, Thursday.
Keeping with what has become tradition under Taylor, the Bisons and Lady Bisons will start the season with three meets in Tennessee. Both the Belmont Opener (Sept. 2) and the Vanderbilt Invite (Sept. 17) are scheduled to take place on the Vaughn’s Gap Course at Percy Warner Park.
“We’ve attended these two meets each year I’ve been here and for many years before I arrived,” said Taylor. “We spend a lot of time training on the Vaughn’s Gap course each year, and this year the Atlantic Sun Championships will be hosted on that course, so it will be even more important to get more race experience there.”
In between the two Nashville meets, the teams will travel to Chattanooga for the UTC Powerade Invite, Sept. 9.
“We took our second squad down there last year and had a lot of fun,” said Taylor. “The races are short, the course is pretty flat and it’s a pretty short trip. The women did really well last year, placing very high with our B team, which was a great source of pride for us. We will also most likely rest some of our top runners and again let our developing athletes go after it.”
On September 24 the teams will split up across the nation. The varsity women will travel to Palo Alto, Cal., to participate in the Stanford Invite. The varsity men will travel to Spokane, Wash., to run in the Erik Anderson Invite. The B squads will head back to Chattanooga for the Chattanooga Cross Country Festival.
“Every year we travel to at least one major competition outside our region,” said Taylor. “This year I feel the women are ready for Stanford. The men will have a great experience in Spokane. It was nice to find a great meet pretty close for those not able to travel to Stanford and Spokane. Everyone will be racing and developing.”
On October 1 the Bisons will return to the Louisville Classic for what has become one of the nation’s biggest meets.
“In 2003 my Northwest College women’s squad tied for the first team title at this meet, and went on to a runner-up finish at that year’s NAIA Championship, so I’m very familiar with the course,” said Taylor. “It’s a great course. If it’s dry, it’s very fast. If it’s wet, it can get quite slow. The meet will probably be even larger this year, as it will be the host course for the NCAA DI National Championships in 2012.”
In 2010 the women’s B squad competed at Louisville and won their race, receiving an engraved Louisville Slugger bat for the team title.
The middle of October will see Lipscomb return to an elite national race, either in the Arkansas Chile Pepper Invitational (Oct. 15) or the Pre-Nationals hosted by Indiana State (Oct. 16).
“The Chile Pepper is an excellent race,” said Taylor. “It’s also huge, with many nationally- and regionally-ranked teams from all divisions. We’ve gone there the past two years and have had a great experience. If the season goes well and perform exceptionally against ranked teams, we’ll take a look at going to the Pre-National meet; I just want to make sure we are ready for that and can beat a lot of those teams; we’re close to that level, but I want to see how the season goes.”
The final competitions of the year will be the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships in Nashville, the NCAA South Regional Championships in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and the NCAA National Championships.
“The women’s side of our conference will be incredibly strong; the championship meet will be a major challenge,” said Taylor. “Last year our women finished second in a meet that featured at least three teams that were better than any team in A-Sun women’s cross country history. Those teams and others look even stronger this year. It will be a great challenge for our women. Our men had their worst race of the season last year at the A-Sun Championships, but bounced back well at Regionals.”
“Both the men and women had their best ever South Region meet last year,” continued Taylor. “The women stepped up with a 9th place regional finish. The goal this year will be top five. Just like the women’s side of the A-Sun Conference, the South Region is rapidly improving as well."