TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Lipscomb men’s cross country team finished sixth while the women’s cross country squad placed eighth in the NCAA South Cross Country Region Friday morning.
Both teams entered the event as the champions of the Atlantic Sun Conference. The races, hosted by the University of Alabama, were held on the Harry Pritchett Cross Country Course.
Juan Gonzalez, the A-Sun Freshman of the Year, led the Bisons with a 14th-place finish covering the 10-K course in 30:29.90.
“Juan ran great for his first 10-K,” said Bill Taylor, director of cross country and track and field. “It was an all-time best individual finish for a Lipscomb runner. It was the first time we have had a men’s runner win All-Region honors.”
Sophomore Daniel Gardner was 28th with a time of 30:48.61. Also finishing in the top 50 were freshman Christian Freeman with a time of 31:07.85 and senior Geoff Musick in 48th place with a time of 31:16.78.
Rounding out the finishers for the Bisons were freshman John Kingstedt (66th, 31:40.49), sophomore Jared Wingerter (97th, 32:12.14) and senior Tim Muller (102nd, 32:20.95).
“We have such a young team,” Taylor said. “We feel satisfied with the men’s finish. We were 16th last year so this was quite a jump. It was the highest finish ever for the men in the region.
"I thought they ran really well. We are very excited for the men’s future based on what we saw. We are headed in the right direction for sure.”
Georgia was a surprise winner followed by Florida, Florida State, Auburn and Tennessee. There were 26 teams and 173 runners competing.
“The guys responded well,” Taylor said. “They know what they are going to be in the future.”
Taylor was concerned about injuries and sickness affecting the women’s team. The eighth-place finish was lower than the seventh-place finish in each of the last two seasons.
“The women ran really well early,” Taylor said. “They were in the top three in the first 2,000 meters. At 4,000 meters we had slipped to sixth. In the end we slipped two more spots.
“I have mixed emotions about the women. It wasn’t a bad performance. It wasn’t a good performance. It was a little surprising to me.”
Sophomore Madi Talbert paced the women’s team with a 32nd place finish in a 6-K time of 20:59.03.
Also in the top 50 was Sally Larson, A-Sun Freshman of the Year, with a time of 21:04.93 for 37th place. Senior Tessa Hoefle placed 44th with a time of 21:13.73.
Also crossing the finish line for the Lady Bisons were freshman Hannah Feiten (60th, 21:29.76), junior Dani Walker (62nd, 21:30.35), freshman Barbara Lee Ball (84th, 21:50.70) and freshman Kelsey Ibarra (111th, 22:08.64).
There were 194 runners and 27 teams competing.
“I didn’t expect we would finish eighth after finishing seventh the last two years,” Taylor said. “I felt like we had a better team than that especially with the South being weaker. That is disappointing that we didn’t step up.
“We had a rough year. We had sickness. We had weird injuries. A lot has hit us this year. We were relying on a pretty young women’s team overall.”