TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Lipscomb cross country squads wrapped up competition at the NCAA Division I South Regional Championships Friday at Florida State University.
"Both teams ran well today,” said director of cross country Bill Taylor. “It's hard to describe how we feel because we had a good day. We didn't have a great day though. So we aren't sad, but we aren't satisfied either.
"The women finished fourth, which is our best finish ever. We had a 1-5 gap of 32 seconds and a 1-7 gap of 39 seconds, which are both great for a 6000-meter race. We had a lot of personal records too. Madi (Talbert) had the best individual finish in Lipscomb history and broke the 6-K school record.”
The women’s team recorded the highest finish at the regional level in program history placing fourth overall with a total time of 1:43:22.
"At the same time we were pretty much in third or fourth from about 800 meters to the finish, which means we didn't race in position to give ourselves a full chance at qualifying for nationals,” Taylor said. “It's been an amazing season for the women and we've made so much progress. The girls don't want to just take another step forward anymore. Going forward it is time for us to just be an elite team in every way.
"This track season is very important. To go to nationals in cross country, a team must know it is amazingly good. It's not a hope, it's belief. The girls need to develop that full belief this coming track season.”
The Purple and Gold finished behind Florida State, Vanderbilt, and Alabama who rank first, second, and third in the region respectively. The Lady Bisons beat out top programs such as Mississippi State, Georgia Tech, and Florida.
Junior Madi Talbert was the first Lady Bison to cross the line completing the race in 20:20.5 placing 16th out of almost 200 runners. Sophomore Sally Larson followed placing 28th logging a time of 20:32.8.
"Madi ran a solid race,” Taylor said. “It's been a breakthrough season for her. Yet she too has another level she is capable of attaining and she knows this. The only thing really is for her to be more engaged in the second half of races. Once she commits to that, she will contend in every race.
"Sally had her best race of the season. She's close to making a big breakthrough as a racer.”
Dani Walker competed in her final race as a Lady Bison nabbing a time of 20:47.50 placing 43rd overall.
"It's sad that this was Dani's last ever collegiate race,” Taylor said. “She has been so important to this team and has helped lead our transformation into a four-time A-Sun championship team and a team with a legitimate chance at qualifying for nationals. I really wanted her to experience nationals before her career was over.”
The men’s team utilized some of the momentum garnered from the Atlantic Sun Championships to finish 11th overall. The team posted a total time of 2:39:12.
"We were satisfied with the men's race,” Taylor said. “The distance back to our number five really hurt us in a race this big. I think Jared (Daedler) ran fine as our number five, we just need more depth.”
Junior Daniel Gardner and sophomore Juan Gonzalez continue to lead the Bisons finishing 25th and 26th respectively. Gardner crossed the line in 31:03.5 while Gonzalez came in at 31:07.0.
"Juan went out with the leaders and gave himself a chance in a race that went out hard,” Taylor said. “He just couldn't hold it today. Daniel worked his way up really well.”
Junior Jared Wingerter clocked in with a time of 31:42.2 placing 50th in a field of 160 runners while Christian Freeman finished 60th with a time of 31:51.1.
"For Christian, the 10-K was just too much for his training,” Taylor said. “He ran tough, but just isn't at that level of fitness. Jared Wingerter ran really well also. The times were good, we just need more depth and another year of getting stronger.”
Talbert and Gardner both picked up All-South Region honors for their notable performances.
"We saw a lot of positive things this season from both teams,” Taylor said. “Especially the end of the season. We are already excited for track and next year’s cross country season."