LOUISVILLE – The Lipscomb women’s cross country team cleaned house at the Louisville Classic Saturday recording solid times and finishing high.
"I'm super happy with the women's performance today!” said Bill Taylor, director of track and field. “It's the best we've ever raced in school history.
“The extra great news is that we can run much better, and the girls know it, believe it and are committed to doing it. It's really exciting where we are and where we are going.”
The first group of women finished fourth behind No. 16 Wisconsin (37 points), No. 22 West Virginia (64 points), and No. 28 Virginia Tech.
"The only teams that beat us today were top-30 teams in the nation,” Taylor said. “We were only three points away from beating our first top-30 team. We are so close to being a top-30 team.”
The Lady Bisons also recorded team records for team time (1:29.11) and average time (17.50).
The second group of Lady Bisons brought home first place (54 points) defeating IPFW (169 points).
Eight Lipscomb women closed out the race with top-25-finishes out of 46 teams. They were led by freshman Kacey Kemper who clocked in with her all-time personal best time of 18:36 placing third.
"Kacey looked terrific in the silver race,” Taylor said. “She was strong and relaxed and it seemed like she just kept getting faster as the race went on.
“She has no idea of how good she really can be. We are going to help her find out.”
Junior Madi Talbert ran the fastest 5000-meter cross country time in Lipscomb history recording a time of 17:19 finishing 13th overall out of 300 runners.
"Madi led the way again,” Taylor said. “It was her best-ever cross country race. She is getting comfortable being one of the top runners in any race.
“Being a two-time All-American helps her confidence. She's about one decision away from being top five in any race she runs. I'm so proud of her.”
Following Talbert was freshman Paige Stoner finishing 33rd in 17:44 and Dani Walker finishing 42nd in 17:52.
"Paige continues to be a phenomenal freshman,” Taylor said. “She's one decision away from sticking with Madi. She's ready to do it.
"It was awesome to see Dani rise up. She's been all-region for us before and absolutely knows she can run with Madi. Today was a season breakthrough and a huge confidence booster for Dani.”
Despite illness and injury, Walker still proved she is an asset to the program.
“The crazy thing is that Dani was really sick all week and still felt bad last night,” Taylor said. “She's coming back from a track season injury and has had low iron.
“To rise up and run so well with all that against her is big. She's just going to get stronger from here.”
Kayla Montgomery followed in behind Walker placing 62nd in 18:06.
"Kayla fought hard today,” Taylor said. “She was up near Paige early, and ran well with Dani a lot of the race.
“Her legs kind of gave out, but her effort didn't. She dug in and competed to the end. I like seeing her step up for her team like that.”
Taylor is still satisfied with where Sally Larson stands this season. She crossed the line in 18:07 finishing 64th overall.
“She is improving, but hasn't looked comfortable and confident yet,” Taylor said. “It sounds weird that I'm excited after saying that, but she just ran 18:07 that way. She was our No. 1 runner most of last year.
“She can run with Madi, and is near a big season breakthrough. This is what I mean when I say that as good as we are, we have legitimate room to get a lot better. There are so many ways we can improve individually and as a team still. Sally will be up with Madi soon, and that will boost our team dramatically.”
Rounding out the second group of women was Minna Fields logging a time of 18:10 finishing 70th and Barbara Lee Ball placing 101st in 18:20.
"I also want to say how proud I am of Minna and Barbara Lee,” Taylor said. “Minna is running so tough this year. It is the most competitive and confident she has ever been. She's fighting for her team and on the verge of a huge breakthrough.
“Barbara Lee is always tough. She had an off day today and just kept fighting. She will relax and be right back up with our top three again.”
Hannah Munyan has also shown signs of improvement.
"I also want to recognize Hannah Munyan,” Taylor said. “She's come a long way this season, and she also just kept getting stronger throughout the silver race. We are really proud of her.”
The men’s team continued to struggle finishing 19th out of 28. The team were led by Juan Gonzalez and Daniel Gardner.
"For the second race in a row there was way too big of a gap to third, fourth and fifth,” Taylor said. “You can't have your No. 3 guy in the hundreds in a race like this, much less your No. 5 at nearly 200. A minute and a half 1-5 gap is brutal. We absolutely must change that immediately.”
Gardner placed 43rd overall with a time of 24:55.44 while Gonzalez finished 46th with a time of 24:56.75.
"I thought Daniel and Juan ran better today than last week,” Taylor said. “They also know that we expect them to be better, because they can and should be. They are elite guys, who are a race away from proving it.
“They've been running at a near elite level. We are trying to help them take that next step, but they are close.”
Despite shaky performances the last couple weeks, Taylor believes the men’s team will improve in the weeks to follow.
"We had a really good talk with the guys after the race,” Taylor said. “They get it and I believe in them. They will improve a lot in the next race.”
The teams have two weeks of resting time before hitting the road for their next meets. The Purple and Gold will split for two meets Oct. 18. One group heads to the Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Indiana and the other going to the Front Runner Invitational in Chattanooga.
"I'm really happy we have two weeks until our next race,” Taylor said. “We need it. This past week was rough, with a lot of sickness, a few new little injuries, and generally a physical, emotional and spiritual battle.
"Though both teams are at different levels right now, I feel very positive about what is ahead. We know what we need to work on, and I know they are committed to doing it."