NASHVILLE – The USTFCCCA announced its Division I Preseason Regional Rankings and both the men’s and women’s cross country teams were voted into the top 10 in the South Region.
The women’s team earned the highest preseason ranking in program history with a third place spot, placing behind only Vanderbilt and Alabama.
"The women are about where I thought we would be to start the season,” Lipscomb Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Bill Taylor said. “I was really thinking we would probably start around four or five, so being number three to start is strong.
“We can compete with anyone this year. We have some growing to do still, however I really like what I've seen in practices so far. I think there is a lot of balance in the South this year, and probably the top four or five teams could end up in any order at the end. “
Last season, the women’s squad won its fourth consecutive Atlantic Sun title. The Lady Bisons followed up their dominant A-Sun performance with the program’s highest finish (fourth) at the South Regionals ever.
Several of 2014’s key contributors are returning for the 2015 campaign.
"To be honest, we don't talk about any rankings within the team,” Taylor said. “If any of the girls know about them, it's only because of the press releases. It's not something we care about. It's great for public relations and it shows we have built respect. The rankings we care about are how we finish at A-Sun, South Regionals and hopefully Nationals.”
The men’s team placed ninth in the USTFCCCA preseason rankings, giving Lipscomb two top-ten programs. Florida, Florida State, Auburn, Georgia, Middle Tennessee and fellow A-Sun member North Florida each landed both programs in the South Region preseason top ten.
"The men are lower than we expected,” Taylor said. “Last year we lacked depth and that certainly caught up to us at the Regional Championships. We've solved that. We have all of our top guys back, and we've added 20 new guys to the team. So being ranked ninth seems low.”
In 2014, the men’s squad repeated as A-Sun champions. At the South Regionals, the Bisons finished 11th.
“But that is why we run the races,” Taylor said. “We will definitely get the opportunity to prove that ranking is too low. Again, the guys won't even know the ranking unless they read the press release. I do think we will prove to be much better than that though. It will be fun to show what we can do."