NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb cross country squad has announced the schedule for the upcoming 2014 season.
The group will begin the season at the Belmont Opener on August 29 at the Vaughn’s Gap course in Percy Warner Park.
"We traditionally start each cross country season at Belmont,” said Bill Taylor, director of track and field. “The meet is on our home course, and we have a lot of historical data to compare.
“It's one of two great opportunities for our Lipscomb fans to see us in action, and we get really good support.”
While the rest of the team will be competing at Belmont, Taylor will send his top-seven men to compete at Stetson in Sanford, Florida on August 30.
“It's the site for our Atlantic Sun Championships, and I think it’s important to get a scouting report,” Taylor said. “The men are going to be in a dogfight to repeat as Atlantic Sun champions, so we really want them to see the course.”
The team will see competition in Nashville again in the Vanderbilt Invite on September 14.
"This is the second opportunity to run on our home course and race in front of the Lipscomb fans,” Taylor said. “We enjoy racing at Vaughn's Gap and this meet always offers solid competition.
“It will be a great dress rehearsal before we hit the big national points meets.”
Following a two-meet run in Nashville, the team will travel to Boston for the Coast to Coast Battle in Bean Town.
"We are really excited about this meet,” Taylor said. “This is the first weekend to compete for at-large points for National Championship qualifying.
“We've never competed in Boston, and I believe this is only the second year for this meet. However Boston College is doing an incredible job of pulling in nationally and regionally ranked NCAA I teams to create a meet that gives teams great at-large point opportunities.”
The primary reason for the Lipscomb teams to compete is to continue to build towards the Nationals.
“That's why we are there, to represent the South and give ourselves more chances to qualify for Nationals,” Taylor said. “The course looks incredible, and Boston is a really cool destination.
“We'll have some fun taking in the history while we are there, and we get a great competition opportunity.”
Following the showdown in Boston, the team will move on to Louisville, Kentucky on October 4 for the Louisville Classic.
"Louisville has traditionally been on our schedule for years, however last year we travelled to Notre Dame as a changeup,” Taylor said. “It's a fast course if it's dry and doesn't require extensive travel. There should be some teams that we can compete for at-large points against.”
Taylor believes Louisville will be a great follow-up to the meet in Boston.
The excursion continues as several of the Bisons travel to Terre Haute, Indiana for a chance to prove their talents at Pre-Nationals on October 18.
"Last year was our first year on the National Championship course at Terre Haute,” Taylor said. “It was a good experience, but we were overwhelmed by the level of competition there.
“It is still going to be great national competition and another opportunity for at-large points. However it sounds like there won't be quite as many teams there this year.”
With Terre Haute being the stage for national competition, Taylor wants the team to get comfortable on the course.
The rest of the team will return to action in the Volunteer State for the Front Runner Invite in Chattanooga, the final meet of the regular season.
The Bisons teams will then try to repeat as conference champions in the Atlantic Sun Championships on November 1 in Sanford, Florida.
"The first big goal of the season is to do well at our conference championships,” Taylor said. “Our men are defending A-Sun champions, after winning their first ever title last season.
“Our women are three-time defending A-Sun champions, looking to win their fourth in a row. We are looking forward to the challenge down there.”
On November 14, the team looks to up the ante in the NCAA South Regional Championships.
"The NCAA I South Region Championships return to Florida State this year, and we love their course in Tallahassee,” Taylor said. “It's a fast course and we ran really well on it two years ago.
“I know everyone who had that experience is really happy the regional meet is there. The goal is to qualify for the National Championships and both teams are in the hunt.”
The final event on the team’s schedule will be the NCAA I National Championships November 22 in Terre Haute.
"Racing at Terre Haute twice this season is what we want to be doing and that is what we expect to be doing,” Taylor said. “Since the day I arrived at Lipscomb and started building the program this has been the main athletic goal, to qualify for Nationals every year and to strive to win the National Championship.
“We are on the doorstep of getting there. The teams are young and experienced, which is a good combination. We have attained new milestones every season I've been here, and we are ready to go to nationals.”