Lipscomb head cross country coach Bill Taylor has announced the team awards and season honors for the 2012 Lipscomb cross country season.
“We have a tradition of awards that represent our core values within the cross country and track & field programs” said Taylor. “These are big honors for our athletes as it means they represent the best of what we are and lead the way in making our program one of the best in the nation in every way, which creates a very unique and special environment.”
Women – Kaitlyn Llewellyn (SO – Toledo, Ohio)
Men – Jared Wingerter (FR – Thompsons Station, Tenn.)
“As a freshman Kaitlyn really had a tough time,” Taylor said. “She has worked through so much and has overcome so much. Last year she was between 12th and 15th on the team most of the season.
“This year, from the time trial to the final meet, she was between second and ninth on the team, a better team than last year. Kaitlyn has so much talent and is just going to keep getting better and better. The big thing with Kaitlyn is that she does everything possible to be great…and I mean everything. As racing becomes more and more normal to her, she will rise to an even higher level.”
Kaitlyn was also voted the ‘Total Commitment’ award in Track 2012.
“Jared couldn’t make the travel team at the start of the year (top 14 or so guys),” Taylor said. “He just kept getting better throughout the season, and in the middle meets he started performing better and better, and moving up the depth chart. He still struggled in practices and was hovering there at 8-to-11 on the team.
“When it was time to reduce our roster to the nine that would compete at Conference, Jared was on the bubble. An injury to a guy in front of him guaranteed his spot as the ninth man on the Atlantic Sun squad. Jared made the most of it, finishing second on the team by less than a second at the Conference race, and earning A-Sun Freshman of the Year honors. He was one of five Lipscomb guys to compete at the NCAA I South Regionals as well. It was a remarkable season of improvement for Jared, and a big sign of what is possible in his very bright future.”
Fightin’ Bison (the person who demonstrated the most guts, mental toughness and physical toughness):
Women – Kellie Foley (FR – Prineville, Ore.)
Men – Dan Coleman (SO – Champaign, Ill.)
“Kellie, a redshirt freshman, had an injury before the season for the second year in a row. The injury turned out to be a stress fracture, which meant the first six-to-eight weeks of the season would be cross training. Most people would get very down and lose all motivation and hope. Kellie was frustrated, but completely committed to see what could be done. I told her she would come back and make the A-Sun roster.
“I’m not sure if she believed me or not, but that is just what she did. She ran the final regular season meet of the season off two weeks of running, and earned a top-nine spot on the team, and ran in the A-Sun Championships, which we won. She earned this award by showing that no matter what happens, if you keep the faith, work your butt off, and show patience, good things can come from bad. Kellie is super talented and is going to do some amazing things here.”
Taylor likes the fighting spirit of Coleman.
“I hope Dan doesn’t mind me saying this, because I think he agrees,” Taylor said. “Dan is not our most talented distance guy. He also lacks some experience. And I know he has struggled at times wondering if running distance is worth all the pain and suffering, vs. the reward.
“The thing is, Dan is a fighter. And after a bit of confidence struggle in the first couple of weeks, Dan just rolled up his sleeves, got to work, and grinded everything out. He pushed himself as far as he could and did whatever he had to do. The result? Dan earned his first cross country A-Sun roster spot, competing in the Championships, and he showed our guys that hard work and guts will take you far.”
For the Team (the best teammate, the most positive and caring):
Women – Tessa Hoefle (JR – Winnebago, Ill.) and Maggie Lawrence (SO – Sinking Springs, Pa.)
Men – Geoff Musick (JR – Nashville, Tenn.)
“This is certainly a positive sign that we have the right team with the right leadership,” Taylor said. “You would hope that an award called ‘For the Team’ would be earned by your leaders, and that is exactly what happened this year. Tessa and Maggie are women’s team captains, Geoff is a men’s team captain.
“This is the third season in a row that Tessa has been voted ‘For the Team’ (XC 2011, TF 2012, XC 2012). Tessa is in her second year as a team captain and is often referred to as the ‘glue’. She is always one of our top runners, pushes herself to her limits, encourages in practice and away from practice, and makes herself available and engaged with the team and everyone’s needs. She has been so important to everything we have accomplished so far, and will be a huge part of everything we accomplish in the future.”
In addition to being voted ‘For the Team’ two previous times, Tessa has also been voted “Total Commitment” (XC 2010, TF 2011, XC 2011, TF 2012), and MVP (XC 2011).
“Maggie is like a team mom,” Taylor said. “She has a big smile, a very positive attitude and a huge heart. She’s goofy enough to have fun and keep everyone smiling, while being clear of what her goals are for herself and the team/program. She’s been in our top five for both A-Sun Championships, and will only get better as an athlete and as a leader. She is a perfect complement to Dani and Tessa as captains, and represents what is special about our team.”
Musick earned his award despite sitting out this season as a redshirt.
“Geoff has been the heart and soul of the men’s team for a long time now,” Taylor said. “He was voted this award despite redshirting the cross country season, which shows you that taking care of a team and leading can happen whatever your role or position on a team.
“What can I say about Geoff? He’s got a heart as big as they get. He wants to see these guys and this program rise to national elite level. He cares about each and every person, and he will do whatever it takes to help everyone. I know Geoff expects to finish his track (this spring) and cross country (next fall) careers as a member of the best teams in school history, and everyone knows he will do everything in his power to see that happen.”
Geoff was voted “For the Team” last track season (TF 2012) as well. He has also been voted “Heart of Gold” (XC 2011), and “Total Commitment” (XC 2010, TF 2011, XC 2011).
Heart of Gold (the person who demonstrates the highest character, who doesn’t compromise, who does the right thing every time, even when nobody is looking):
Women – Missy Dowd (JR – Duvall, Wash.)
Men – Ben Wright (SR – Vincennes, Ind.)
“Missy is quiet, positive, sweet, hard -working and has high character,” Taylor said. “She is committed to this team in every way, always has a positive word and is just a wonderful person. I believe Missy is also the best runner on our team.
“She may not have the fastest times on the team, but she pushes herself closer to her potential than anyone, which is what I believe the best runner is. She is a shining example in every way and has earned a spot on both A-Sun Championship rosters. I’m so glad Missy is a part of our program…she makes our culture and our team so much better. ”
Missy has previously been voted “Most Improved” twice (TF 2011, XC 2011).
“Ben is also pretty quiet overall, but just has this fire and desire for these guys,” Taylor said. “He loves the Lord and wants to see our team excel athletically, socially, spiritually…in every single way. He’s always there for the team, and everyone knows he has amazing character.
“I especially admire how Ben has grown in every aspect, from being a walk-on with very little confidence, to being a team captain this Cross Country season and one of the top guys on the team the past two years. He is a great example of what we are about.”
Ben was previously voted “Most Improved” (XC 2011).
Total Commitment (who did it right, did it all, did it all the time, and did all the little things):
Women – Tessa Hoefle (SO – Winnebago, Ill.)
Men – Fidel Leon (FR – Katy, Texas)
“Tessa has won this award in all five of her seasons at Lipscomb (XC 2010, TF 2011, XC 2011, TF 2012 and now XC 2012). Total Commitment means no compromise in pursuit of excellence for yourself and for the team. It means doing all the little things and treating them as seriously as the big things. It means no shortcuts ever. It is ‘doing it’ rather than just ‘saying it’.
“Tessa obviously represents this award and this spirit incredibly. This spirit is embodied by all of our top athletes, yet Tessa continues to be voted this award, which means she stands out among her peers of women who stand out J. As a team captain, this gives her ever more credibility. You have to be willing to do what you ask others to do. And Tessa’s passion for success and desire to see this program at Nationals and winning Nationals is clear. It has been so important as we continue on that road, and it is making it all real.”
Leon is considered to be one of the favorite members on the men’s team.
“Fidel is a quiet guy, with a good sense of humor, who just works as hard as he can and strives for success in all he does.,” Taylor said. “He has high character. He is the same person at all times, and willing to put it all out there, and then some, on race day.
“After not making the travel team at the beginning of the season, Fidel worked his way into the top five on the team, earned a spot on the A-Sun All- Freshman team, and competed in the NCAA I South Regional Championships. He always has a positive attitude and is a terrific example for everyone.”
Freshman of the Year:
Women – Madi Talbert (FR – Charlotte, N.C.)
Men – Daniel Gardner (FR – Chilicothe, Ohio)
“On a pretty experienced and talented team of returners, Madi not only stepped up as the top freshman in every meet, she was the top runner on the team in two of our races this year,” Taylor said. “She also earned a spot on the A-Sun All-Freshman team and was in our top five on the A-Sun All-Conference Championship team.
“Madi really had an incredible freshman year. I was especially impressed by the way she came in, seemed a bit intimidated at first by the workouts and our returners, then just relaxed and started doing everything our top women did. Then to see her step it up in races when others wouldn’t or couldn’t, showed so much maturity. Madi has loads of talent and is going to be so good in the future. She has started her collegiate career right, with a really terrific season.”
The men’s team gave several freshmen the opportunity to show what they could do in races.
“Daniel earned this award on a team that really relied on freshmen to carry things this year,” Taylor said. “It was one of those bizarre years for us…a perfect storm. We had all kinds of potential and expectations coming into the season. Then our top recruit didn’t make it. Another top freshman injured himself playing basketball this summer and couldn’t run. Our top two returners redshirted the season. Other injuries and sickness plagued the team this year. It seemed like we couldn’t catch a break this year.
“Yet through all that Daniel stepped up as consistently a top runner on our team. I believe he was in the top three on the team in every meet, was our No.1 at times, and earned a spot on the A-Sun All-Freshman team. He was by far the most consistent freshman on the team and has an incredibly bright future.”
Women – Dani Walker (SO – Wichita, Kan.)
Men – Ryan Gadsey(SO – Nashville, Tenn.)
“Dani was the clear winner for team MVP,” Taylor said. “She is definitely the leader on the course for us. As she goes, the team usually goes. At the A-Sun Championships she finished third overall, earning her second All-A-Sun honors in two seasons.
“At the NCAA South Regional Championships Dani earned the first All-Region honors in Lipscomb history and missed qualifying for the NCAA I National Championships by just three seconds. Over halfway through the Regional race Dani was in second place overall. It was a breakout performance for her and for our team, and has opened up the confidence that she and we can and will reach the goals we have. I am so proud of how Dani has developed, and am so excited to watch her take it to the next and highest level."
This is the second cross country MVP award for Dani, being voted MVP in 2010 cross country (she redshirted 2011). Dani has also been voted “Fightin’ Bison” (TF2012) and was the team “Freshman of the Year” for Cross Country (2010) and Track & Field (2011).
“Ryan’s story is like a lot of our guys this season,” Taylor said. “He had a slow start and didn’t make the first travel squad. In a season dominated by freshmen, Ryan rose up to be the number one guy on the team at the end of the season, leading the men at A-Sun.
“However, his big breakout was at the NCAA South Regional Championships. Ryan decided to run with the leaders, and stayed there for most of the race. Though he faded a bit near the end of the 10-K race, he learned that he can run with anyone in the nation. He looked awesome…relaxed and natural. He tasted what it feels like to be elite, and it will lead to big things in his future. He also showed our other guys that they can do anything they want as well.”
Taylor stresses that distance running is a mental sport.
“You run as fast as your expectations and belief,” Taylor said. “Ryan not only led our team when it counted, he moved the ceiling of expectations and belief so much higher for everyone here.”
Ryan was voted “Freshman of the Year” last XC season (XC2011).