NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Lipscomb men’s cross country squad finished seventh at the Atlantic Sun Championships last season. Head coach Bill Taylor thinks that with the returning experience the Bisons are primed to compete for the top spot.
“We’ve got two sophomores and two freshmen who all have experience running at Lipscomb along with three fifth-year seniors who are returning after redshirting last season,” Taylor said.
The three seniors, Isaiah Greer, Geoff Musick and Tim Mueller, all return to the squad after sitting out last season for various reasons. Taylor is looking at them to provide leadership for the younger runners.
“They are three captains with a ton of experience,” Taylor said. “Geoff and Isaiah have both been former All A-Sun competitors. It is nice to get that leadership and experience back. They have all proven they can run in the top group.”
A-Sun Freshman of the Year Jared Wingerter returns for his sophomore season along with Daniel Gardner. Grant Stromberg and John Kingstedt will run their inaugural cross country campaigns but have experience with Lipscomb with track and field last spring.
“Grant was here last year but is a freshman because he had an injury in the summer before his freshman year,” Taylor said. “He did run very well for us in track. Jared, Daniel and Grant qualified for the USTAF Junior Nationals during track season so they have got some good experience. We are excited about them.
“John ran during the indoor season. All four of those guys have run in the 14s and have some experience here. These are the guys we are looking to help carry us forward.”
Also returning from a year ago are Fidel Leon, Ryan Gadsey and Austin Casassa. Leon, a sophomore, ran in the top five for the Bisons while Gadsey was the top finisher at the A-Sun meet for LU with a 22nd place finish. Casassa, a sophomore, ran for a few races but was shut down due to injury.
“Austin was one of the top recruits coming in,” Taylor said. “He had to have surgery but all indications are he is much improved. He could be a factor in the group.”
The Purple and Gold had a stellar recruiting class that included two top-15 runners in the nation in high school. Juan Gonzalez and Christian Freeman have both competed at the NIKE Cross nationals and have big race experience. But Taylor is quick to point out they are still freshmen.
“You never really know what to expect from freshmen but they are two of the best distance guys in the nation,” Taylor said. “It was a stellar signing to get both of those guys but they still have got to run an 8k for the first time and still need to run a 10k for the first time.
“Fortunately we have a good group around them. If they just kind of put themselves in the middle, it will help a ton.”
Taylor is also excited about Lipscomb Academy graduate D.A. Lowery.
“We really like what we have seen,” Taylor said. “If not this year, in the future he will be a top tier runner. He has the potential to be a big contributor.”
Working towards the first A-Sun Championship for the men’s side, the Bisons are eager to reach the summit after watching the women win the last two championships.
“They are really proud of the women’s team as we are one big family,” Taylor said. “With that being said, what is on our walls? Two women’s championship posters. What is hanging in the gym? Two women’s championship banners. What have the guy’s gotten to see? Two ring ceremonies.
“They would like to have their mark too. It is a big motivator and they want to share in the success.”
Taylor hopes the leadership from the three seniors will help push for that success.
“They bring the heart and soul of the program,” Taylor said. “They have wanted to have success for a long time. They redshirted last year because they knew we were young and would get some seasoning. On top of that, they knew the A-Sun meet would be on our home course.
“When you add in having a legitimate chance at the championship, it is something they have been striving for since they got here. They are fabulous leaders. It will take some work to replace them after this season.”
The Bisons begin their stampede to the top on Aug. 30 with a meet on the A-Sun Championship course. The meet hosted by Belmont begins at 4 p.m. at Percey Warner Park.