Lipscomb men’s cross country Bill Taylor has added 12 student-athletes for the 2012-13 campaign, joining a team that finished fourth in the Atlantic Sun in 2011.
“The men’s cross country and distance class is the strongest and largest in Lipscomb history,” Taylor said. “Athletically, we are significantly better than we’ve ever been before. It will take some time to develop this group. Freshmen guys have to move up to the 8K and 10K events, but I think this group is going to be ready for the change. I think we’re going to see quicker development and better performances from our freshmen than we’ve seen before.”
The Bisons didn’t have to look far for Austin Casassa, who comes across campus to join the squad after representing David Lipscomb High School in three state cross country meets. He was fourth in the 2010 TSSAA cross country championships and was a state 3200m run champion and 1600m runner-up at the 2012 TSSAA State Track and Field championships.
Jared Wingerter (Thompson Station, Tenn./Independence HS) hails from the greater Nashville area and will provide depth for the Bisons. Wingerter is also a three-time state cross country qualifier and was the Great Eight meet’s 3200m run champion.
Collierville’s Mason Shepherd rounds out the in-state men's cross country recruiting. The Collierville High grad is a three-time TSSAA Cross Country Championships qualifier and qualified in the 1600m and 3200m events at the 2012 state track and field championships.
The men’s squad picked up its first international commitment this year. John Kingstedt is a distance runner from Stockholm, Sweden and has twice been a Swedish Junior National Team member. His mother was a member of the Swedish National Team for distance/marathon and has placed as high as sixth at the Chicago Marathon.
A pair of Californian high school teammates elected to join the Bisons together. Max McBride and Elliott Ramirez hail from Brea Olinda High in Brea, Calif., and will contribute in the mid-distance and long distance events as well as cross country.The duo were instrumental in Brea Olinda's 2010 CIF Southern Section cross country championship.
Ramirez was a cross country and track and field captain both his junior and senior seasons. He qualified for the CIF cross country championships each of the last three seasons, finishing 18th in 2010 and 14th in 2011. He was first-team all-CIF in 2010 and second-team in 2011.
McBride was Brea Olinda’s Athlete of the Year in 2012. McBride joined Ramirez as a CIF cross country championships qualifier the last two seasons and was a three-time (2010-12) Century League 800m run champion.
Another Californian, Grant Stromberg (Pacific Palisades, Calif./Palisades Charter) will head east to Nashville. He is a two-time CIF Cross Country Championships qualifier, with a best finish of 19th in 2011. In 2012, he finished 12th in the 3200m run at the CIF Championships.
With ties to the upper Northwest, Taylor and assistant coach Luke Syverson added two young men out of the state of Washington to help the cross country squad. Andrew Bosket (Arlington, Wash./Arlington HS) and Matthew Fry (Spokane, Wash./University HS) will help the middle distances and contribute in cross country. Bosket was part of Arlington’s school-record 4x400m team that finished fourth at the 2012 WIAA State Championships, while Fry was 16th individually at the state cross country championships and part of the fifth-place 4x400m relay contingent at the state track championships.
“I like that we’re adding talent and depth in the middle distances,” Taylor said. “We were a little down in the middle distances this past year. By adding Matthew Fry and Max McBride, we expect to have a very strong middle distance group this season.”
Syverson noted that these additions will be counted on to step up right away during track season as well.
“Guys like Max McBride, Matthew Fry and Andrew Bosket will definitely give us a huge boost and help push our returners,” Syverson said. “Not only do they add depth, with the strong times these guys bring in its depth up front. They’ll really help continue to build what we have started.”
The cross country team will be further bolstered by the addition of Daniel Gardner (Chillicothe, Ohio/Paint Valley HS), Matt Hall (Lansing, Ill./Illiana Christian HS) and Fidel Leon (Katy, Texas/Mayde Creek HS). Hall (three times) and Leon (twice) are both multiple-time qualifiers for their respective state cross country championship meets, while Gardner was an OHSAA Division III State Champion in the 3200m run.
Leon finished fourth in the open division at the Nike Cross Country southern regionals last season and was a top-35 finisher in the Texas State Cross Country Championships each of the last two seasons.
“Daniel, Matt, Grant Stromberg, Austin Casassa and John Kingstedt each have the stats and background to come in and immediately earn a top roster spot,” Taylor said. “But, as we’ve seen with this program any of these guys can make a top spot if they want it, believe and do the work. We’ve developed kids really well and the opportunities are there for any of these freshmen, and any of our returners too for that matter.”
Taylor is pleased to bring in so many student-athletes that can compete and contribute right away.
“The travel roster and championship spots are going to be hard to earn,” Taylor said. “That’s a good thing. Positive competition within the team, combined with great desire and high expectations is a perfect recipe for success.
“With a men’s program that was pretty close to a conference title last year in cross country and earned the best finishes in program history during track season, our goals are pretty big for this fall and beyond. I cannot express how excited I am about the men’s program and what we are going to accomplish!”
Each of these athletes will be counted on to contribute during track season at some point. For a full breakdown of men's track and field-only incoming freshmen, check back tomorrow at LipscombSports.com.
Personal Bests (Cross Country Only - 5K unless noted)
John Kingstedt: 15:14
Fidel Leon: 15:32
Grant Stromberg: 15:36
Daniel Gardner: 15:40
Elliott Ramirez: 15:45
Jared Wingerter: 15:47
Matthew Fry: 15:51
Max McBride: 16:08
Mason Shepherd: 16:12
Austin Casassa: 16:25
Andrew Bosket: 17:09
Matthew Hall: 14:59 (3-mile)