BOSTON – The Lipscomb cross country teams wrapped up competition at the Battle in Beantown in Boston, Massachusetts with an array of results.
"Today the women did some positive things they've never done before, and at the same time realized how much better they can be,” said Bill Taylor, director of cross country. “We gain from both.”
Overall the women finished 12th in a field of powerful teams including Harvard, Michigan, and Georgetown.
“Every team ahead of us was either nationally or regionally ranked, and we beat three regionally ranked teams,” Taylor said. “We've never done that before. I thought overall we looked better than we've ever looked in the big races.
“That's a positive. We were only 75 points from beating a nationally-ranked team. We've never been that close before.”
While the women produced positive results, they also fell short in certain aspects of the race.
“We never packed at all,” Taylor said. “It was a bit of an 'everyone for themselves' look out there. We train as a relaxed powerful unit all the time. It went out the window.
“The thing is, if we pack up around Madi Talbert, we finish fourth and are nationally ranked. The girls realized that after the race, and are committed to improving. The post-race comments from the women acknowledged this. They took positive ownership and committed to solutions.”
Talbert, a junior, crossed the line first for the Lady Bisons clocking a time of 17:50.0.
"Madi had a strong first race of the season,” Taylor said. “She led our team the whole race by herself. I liked her courage and willingness to set the tone today. She knows she can run even faster.
“She's a two-time NCAA I All-American on the track. She knows she can run with anyone. She also wants her team with her, which will help her run faster too. It was a solid start for her and I'm proud that she was willing to compete hard and lead us.”
Freshman Paige Stoner followed behind Talbert placing 50th overall with a time of 18:05.0.
"Paige was again tough as nails and had a great big meet race for a freshman,” Taylor said. “It's tough facing this type of competition as a freshman. She handled it well, and is committed to getting even better.”
Sophomore Sally Larson came in with a time of 18:14.0 placing 66th for Lipscomb.
"Sally started out sketchy, but really rallied herself and got back into race mode,” Taylor said. “Today was a 'break the rust off' meet for her. She can now let herself fly.
“Dani Walker struggled a bit, but I kind of expected that. She's had some health issues that are getting better, but aren't 100 percent yet. She often starts cross country a bit off, and always works her way up there.”
Taylor feels the women’s team has great potential despite a shaky day in Boston.
"The women are so close,” Taylor said. “They can be top-10 at nationals with just a few strong committed decisions.
“We are learning and growing. I like where we are headed and what I am seeing. Patience pays off in the end.”
On the men’s side, the team struggled at times capping off the day with a 15th-place finish.
"Juan looked like an elite for a lot of the race, then let the lead pack go and didn't finish particularly strong,” Taylor said. “He can be a national elite. To do so he needs to race with the top guys and never let them go. Today was a learning experience for him.”
Gonzalez logged a time of 25:23.0 placing 49th overall while Daniel Gardner finished 46th with his time of 25:19.0.
“Daniel ran well too,” Taylor said. “He hung back and then moved up later. The same can be said for Daniel. He can be a national elite, but national elites are not passive runners.
“They don't hang back and hope. Daniel can be there as soon as he decides to be aggressive.”
Jared Wingerter crossed the line next for the Bisons posting a time of 26:25.0. Freshman Mitch Zabka finished later in 26:34.0.
“We were lacking a No. 5 runner coming in,” Taylor said. “Today we didn't even have a No. 3 runner. The guys need to step up and run with and for each other.
“They have to believe in themselves all the time, and not change their belief based on the competition. We have a lot of work to do and today showed that clearly. We can and will get better.”
With less rest time than normally allotted, the teams hit the course Saturday Oct. 4 to take part in the Louisville Classic.
"Usually we have two weeks between each meet and this week we have just one,” Taylor said. “I think that is good.
“I know the girls are excited to get back on the racecourse as soon as possible to work on the things they know they can improve. Louisville will be a great opportunity to take another step forward."