Nine men join Bisons distance squad
Monday, July 8, 2013
Nine men join Bisons distance squad

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Two sub-9 minute 3200m runners highlight the men’s 2013 cross country/distance recruiting class for Lipscomb University.  In total, nine class of 2013 men make up the best distance recruiting class in Lipscomb University history.

The class is led by Californian’s Christian Freeman and Juan Gonzalez, both ranked in the top 15 in the nation at 3200m.  For all high school runners across the nation in 2013, Christian is ranked 10th and Juan is ranked 12th

“Words cannot describe how excited we are about this season and this recruiting class.  We have terrific young talent returning, with four freshmen breaking 15-minutes for 5k last year.  We return three red-shirt seniors to the cross country team.  Then we add by far the strongest recruiting class in school history” Bill Taylor, director of cross country and track and field, said.

Coach Taylor continues, “Better yet, these guys are awesome people.  They fit the Lipscomb culture and our team wonderfully. They will contribute to our success athletically, academically, spiritually and socially. 

“They also have a unique opportunity to be ‘the team’ that makes history here.  Our men have improved over the years, however they have not taken that big step to be legitimate ASUN contenders and a threat to go to nationals.  This recruiting class, combined with an awesome and very motivated returning class, will be that.  I believe we will qualify the men’s team to NCAA I Cross Country Nationals before this recruiting class graduates.”

Assistant Coach Luke Syverson adds “Anytime you can bring in two distance runners who are both ranked in the top 12 in the Nation in one class, you are doing well.  There are only a couple of programs in the country that can boast that, and those are perennially nationally ranked teams.  It really is a testament to the kind of program we are building and the type of student-athletes we are attracting because of it.”

Jared Daedler (Brea Olinda HS, Brea, CA.  High School Coaches: Jeremy Mattern.  Parents: Jeff and Natalie Daedler)

PR’s:4:27 1600m, 9:34.58 3200m, 15:22 3mile, 26:33 8k

  • Helped lead team to 2011 and 2012 Century League XC Championship titles
  • Track & Field team was 2013 Century League Team Champions
  • Scholar Athlete
  • 2 time qualifier for CIF California State Cross-Country Championships
  • Helped lead XC team to 3rd place finish at 2012 CIF State XC Championships

Reason for choosing Lipscomb: “I knew about the school’s reputation as a Christian University. Coach Syverson contacted me about the team, and after looking into the school a bit, I saw that it had a fantastic running program as well as a great engineering program.  These characteristics were exactly what I was looking for in my college search.”

Coach Syverson on Jared: “We have known about Jared for a while as we were recruiting his older brother two years ago.  Coach Mattern has a strong program at Brea Olinda and we have recruited a number of the guys in his program.  Jared still has a lot of room for development and he is exactly the type of runner that has seen incredible improvement here at Lipscomb and in Coach Taylor’s program.  We are excited to get another Wildcat.”


Christian Freeman (Carlsbad HS, Carlsbad, CA.  High School Coaches: Katie Culley.  Parents: Denise and Douglas Freeman)
PR’s: 1:56.06 800m, 3:55.75 1500m (ranked #9 in Nation), 4:11.64 1600m (school record), 8:52 3200m (school record and ranked 10th in the Nation), 15:05 5k

  • Lead team to North County League and CIF San Diego section Championship titles in 2012
  • Finished 7th individually at CIF State XC Championships and lead team to 3rd place team finish
  • Led team to At Large bid to Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, OR in 2012
  • 2013 CIF SDS Champion in both 1600m and 3200m
  • 6th place finish in 3200m at 2013 CIF State Track & Field Championships
  • Team Captain for both Cross-Country and Track & Field junior and senior year

Reason for choosing Lipscomb:  “One of the top reasons for me going to Lipscomb was the amazing quality of character I saw in the team.  The group of people I would be spending nearly all my time were extremely friendly, goal-oriented, charismatic, and motivated.  No one at any other college came even close to the stellar quality of characters I met at Lipscomb.  Another reason for me choosing Lipscomb was the wonderful atmosphere.  I’m extremely excited to advance my faith while getting an education around an awesome group of people at a beautiful school.”  Christian chose Lipscomb over schools such as; Cal Berkley, Arizona State University, and Univ. of San Francisco.

Coach Syverson on Christian:  “Christian was a home run for us.  He is perfect for Lipscomb and us for him in every way.  He has a great personality and fun to be around.  He knows how to race and has spent his high school career running against some of the best talent in the country.  He had an incredible senior year in both XC and Track.  He is the fastest and highest ranked runner we have ever signed.  His 3200m time is ranked in the top 10 in the Nation and during different times during this past season, was ranked #1 in the Nation in the 1500m and his Carlsbad team ranked #1 in the Nation for the 4x1600m relay. We are excited to see how Christian develops during his four years here.” 


Juan Gonzalez (El Toro HS, Lake Forest, CA.  High School Coaches: Rick Hagin.  Parents: Juan and Irma Gonzalez)

PR’s: 1:54.34 800m, 4:09.79 1600m (ranked #32 in Nation), 8:54.01 3200m (ranked #12 in Nation),

14:00 3mile, 15:05 5k

  • Won prestigious California Fall XC meets such as Mt. Sac, Woodbridge Invite and Asics Clovis Invite
  • 2012 CIF State Cross-Country Individual Champion
  • Earned automatic bid to compete at Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, OR
  • Won both League and CIF SS 1600m and 3200m titles in 2013
  • Finished 4th at the CIF State Track & Field Championships in both 1600m and 3200m
  • Orange County Register’s Athlete of the Year in both Cross-Country and Track & Field

Reason for choosing Lipscomb: Team Atmosphere, Christian school

Coach Syverson on Juan: “Obviously, Juan, like Christian, is a huge addition for us.  He was the top XC runner in California this past season and continued that success into the spring track season.  However, more than his athletic success and the fact that he is one of the top scholastic runners in the country is that he is a great individual.  The athletic part is a bonus.  From the moment I first contacted Juan, I was impressed with how polite, respectful, and humble he was.  I was also impressed by how important his faith was to him.  I truly looked forward to speaking with him each time.  I was amazed at the amount of Juan’s peers that would constantly post things on his Facebook page about how he was an inspiration to them, or impressed with his faith, or how they appreciated his leadership.  That kind of “endorsement” speaks volume to us.  Juan chose Lipscomb over Arizona State University and will join female El Toro HS teammate, Taylor Romine, in the program.


Luke Jelen (Lincoln HS, Sioux Falls, SD. High School Coaches: Eric Pooley.  Parents: Dale and Nancy Jelen)

PR’s: 1:56.6 800m, 4:22 1600m, 9:29 3200m, 15:41 5k

  • Led team to 2012 South Dakota State Cross-Country Championship title after finishing 4th individually
  • All-State honors in both 2011 and 2012 for XC
  • 2013 SDHSSA State Championship Runner-up in the 3200m
  • Finished 6th at the 2012 SDHSSA State Track & Field Championships in the 1600m and 5th in 2013
  • Team Captain and MVP of Cross-Country team in 2011 and Team Captain again in 2012

Reason for choosing Lipscomb: I felt God calling me to this school during and after my visit, and it just seemed like the best fit out of any school I looked at.  I wanted a school that would offer me the things I needed academically as well as athletically, while giving all praise to Jesus Christ.”  Luke chose Lipscomb over schools such as; Liberty, South Dakota State, and Univ. of Wyoming.

Coach Syverson on Luke: “Luke was high on our list from the beginning especially due to what kind of environment he was looking for.  As we have said before, we recruit more on character and academics than just times and Luke fit that to a tee.  He is outgoing about his faith and wants to serve.  He comes from a running family as both of his older sisters ran for Bethel University and his older brother was a stand-out runner for Liberty.  Luke battled with some off and on injuries this past season otherwise his times I think would have been better.  I know he will be a spiritual leader on our team and will have a great career here.”


Daniel Lenart (St. Francis De Sales HS, Toledo, OH. High School Coaches:  Parents:  )

PR’s: 51.50 400m, 1:56.44 800m, 4:26.88 1600m, 15:54 5k

  • Two time qualifier for the OHSAA State Cross-Country Championships (2011 & 2012)
  • Qualified for the OHSAA State Indoor Track & Field Championships in the 800m, 4x400, and 4x800 multiple times
  • Finished 13th at the 2012 OHSAA State Outdoor Track & Field Championships
  • 4.0 GPA, National Honor Society, National Merit Commended Scholar, and President’s List

Reason for choosing Lipscomb: “I chose Lipscomb because I wanted to attend a smaller college with a friendly atmosphere.  I also wanted to participate in cross-country and track in college while receiving an excellent education.  Lipscomb fit both of those criteria very well.”

Coach Syverson on Daniel: Daniel is one of our true middle distance type runners in this class.  He has more experience with the 400 and 800 than the other distances as his meet schedule usually included two other relays each week.  His build is that of a stocky, muscular, tough runner.  His training never included that much mileage so we are excited to see what he can do.  He is an incredible student and will help us continue our tradition of being one of the top Men’s academic teams in the Nation.”


David “D.A.” Lowery (Lipscomb Academy, Nashville, TN. High School Coaches: Tim Taylor, Albert Thweatt, and Guy Avery.  Parents: Stan and Anne Lowery)

PR’s: 1:57.26 800m (school record), 4:27.73 1600m, 16:46 5k

  • Finished in the top 8 at the TSSAA State Cross-Country Championships  in both 2011 and 2012
  • Was team MVP in XC for 2011 and 2012 and Track MVP in 2013
  • Was honored as Lipscomb’s McAdams Athlete of the Year as a senior
  • Finished 3rd at 2012 TSSAA State Track & Field Championships in the 1600m
  • Was 2013 TSSAA State Track & Field Championship Runner-up in both 1600m and 800m

Reason for choosing Lipscomb: Definitely the Christian atmosphere.  I love the atmosphere of the team and the Christ centered focus of the University.”

Coach Syverson on David: “We have had the opportunity to watch D.A. run and grow for a while now and he has been on our radar for the last two years.  He has the build of an elite collegiate distance runner and we really think he has the potential to live up to that build and be our surprise runner of this class.  He is an incredible fit for our program in every way.  A great student and leader, he is fun to be around, knows our program, and will be integral in our Christian witness and service.”


Derek Peterson (Wayzata HS, Plymouth, MN.  High School Coaches: Bill Miles.  Parents: Matt and Nancy Peterson)

PR’s: 1:57.0 800m, 4:24 1600m, 9:50 3200m, 16:29 5k

  • Earned 11 Varsity letters in Cross-Country, Nordic Skiing, and Track & Field
  • Was Team Captain of all three sports senior year
  • Helped lead 4x800 relay team to MN State title in 2012 and was member of Wayzata’s 2012 Minnesota State Track & Field Championship team title
  • Holds Wayzata school indoor 800m record
  • All-State honors in Track & Field in both 2011 and 2012
  • Wayzata HS was Lake Conference Champions, Sectional Champions and finished 3rd at MN State XC Championships in 2012

Reason for choosing Lipscomb: “The team environment is incredible.  I really felt at home when I visited.  The University is also a perfect fit.  I was looking for a small/medium Liberal Arts school with engineering.  Everyone is very supportive and I feel that I can thrive here for 4 years.”

Coach Syverson on Derek: “Derek will bring a lot to our team and like the rest of this class, is a great character fit.  It is one of the reason’s he chose Lipscomb and we recruited and chose him.  He is an eagle scout, well rounded three-sport athlete, musician, and the list can go on.  He hasn’t run a ton of miles but we think he will be able to build a strong aerobic engine in our program.  He has had the advantage of doing a low impact, aerobic sport like Nordic skiing in the winter and that will carry over well.  He has stronger middle distance times coming in but we think he could be just as good at the longer races too.”


Jonathan “J.J.” Shankles (Bearden HS, Knoxville, TN.  High School Coaches: Steve Prince.  Parents: Roland and Karen Shankles)

PR’s: 2:02 800m, 4:50 1600m, 6:35 2k Steeple, 17:15 5k

  • Four year lettermen in both Cross-Country and Track & Field at Bearden
  • 4 time qualifier for the TSSAA State Cross-Country Championships

Reason for choosing Lipscomb: “Its all-around greatness.”

Coach Syverson on J.J.: “JJ was a late addition to our class but was kind of a nice surprise.  One of JJ’s older brothers is a former Bison runner for us so we are very familiar with his family.  Bearden HS has been good to the Bisons in the past as former Lady Bison and current coach, Jenny Randolph, was also a Bulldog.  JJ has a tall, solid build, and since he has experience in the steeplechase, that might be his best race.  Guys like JJ have seen some of the best improvement and PR rates in our system so we are excited to see what he will be able to accomplishment over the next four years.”


Cooper Wall (North Kitsap HS, Poulsbo, WA.  High School Coaches: Richard Christopher.  Parents: Michael and Tracy Wall)

PR’s: 2:00.30 800m, 4:44 1600m, 10:18 3k Steeple, 16:50 5k

  • Qualified for the 2012 WIAA State Cross-Country Championships
  • Team Captain
  • 3 year letter winner in Cross-Country and Track

Reason for choosing Lipscomb: “I chose Lipscomb because of the God-centered atmosphere and the amazing attention and awareness of importance to detail. I’m excited to join the program at Lipscomb because it seems to be so inclusive to runners of every rank.  I’m looking forward to taking part in the community and family that seems to be present in both the XC and T&F teams.  I’m excited to receive a higher caliber of training which will hopefully uncover my true potential as a runner.”

Coach Syverson on Cooper: “Cooper is another recruit who we know has the potential to get dramatically faster in our program.  We have a number of athletes in our program from the state of Washington.  While Coach Tayor and I are both originally from WA, most of it has to do with the depth of talent in the state.  It is one of the deepest talent bases for high school distance runners in the country.  Cooper’s best PR is in the 800m but we think he can be a better longer distance guy.  Cooper is a great guy and we are excited that we get to work with him to improve as a runner and athlete.”