JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the third year in a row, the Lipscomb women’s and men’s teams swept the Atlantic Sun Cross Country Championships. The win was the fifth in a row for the women’s program, tying an A-Sun record, and the third consecutive for the men’s squad.
"We had a great day obviously,” Lipscomb Director of Cross Country and track and Field Bill Taylor said. “We did some things never before done at the Atlantic Sun Championships. It's very fun to win both again. We don't take it for granted, and we celebrate every opportunity we get to do this.”
The Lady Bisons tied the lowest mark in A-Sun Championship history with 19 points, and were also the first team in conference history to land all nine runners on the All-Conference teams. Their margin of victory, 54 points, was also tied for the largest ever.
"The women pretty much led the whole race,” Taylor said. “We were clearly the lead team from 100m on. It was more about team and personal goals from there. I think it could be easy to tune out, or let down in a meet like this. Our women fought hard. You don't get nine all in the 17's without killing it.”
Senior Madi Talbert won the individual championship for the second year in row, only the seventh time a women’s cross country runner has accomplished the feat in conference history.
Talbert’s time of 17:09.59 was the fastest 5000m cross country time in school history and the third fastest time in A-Sun history.
"Madi obviously wanted the win again,” Taylor said. “She went out hard. It may have disrupted our pack a bit, but I think they rallied well through the race. We never really had a pack, but they were all close.”
Freshman Brooke Kingma became the third Lady Bison in a row to win the Freshman of the Year award. She earned a First-Team All-Conference spot with a time of 17:29.22.
Junior Barbara Lee Ball earned a First-Team All-Conference birth with a time of 17:35.43, improving on her Second-Team finish last year.
Freshman Kelli Nesky and senior Kate Bucknam also placed on the All-Conference First Team with times of 17:38.28 and 17:39.91.
Junior Sally Larson (17:48.72), sophomores Katie Bianchini (17:50.09) and Paige Stoner (17:53.55), and freshman Bridgette Doucet (17:58.35) all earned spots on the All-Conference Second Team.
Kingma, Doucet and Nesky all nab spots on the All-Freshman Team as well.
The men’s side also dominated the race, placing six on the All-Conference teams and two on the All-Freshman team. They compiled a team score of 22 for their third straight A-Sun title.
"The men really set the tone,” Taylor said. “They went out and controlled the race, especially from about halfway on. The result was clear the whole second half of the race. We are really proud of them.”
Juniors Juan Gonzalez (24:44.28) and Christian Freeman (24:49.42) and senior Daniel Gardner (25:09.98) earned First-Team All-Conference nods for the third year in a row.
Senior Jared Wingerter (25:05.47) also earned his third consecutive All-Conference nod, this time placing on the First Team.
Junior Jacob Poyner landed on the First Team as well, finishing with a time of 24:49.39, the second-best time for the Bisons.
Freshman Robert Rupp (25:48.35) earned a spot on both the All-Conference Second Team and the All-Freshman team, while Psalm Ocampo joined him on the All-Freshman team with a mark of 25:55.49.
"My assistant coaches, Benton Reed and Tim Muller, get so much credit for this,” Taylor said. “They are doing a terrific job with the men on the day-to-day stuff and the meet preparation. I'm really proud of those two.”
For the third consecutive year, Taylor won the Coach of the Year award on both the men’s and women’s sides. He will be sharing the men’s award with Reed. The wins were his seventh and eighth overall, as he has won the last five women’s Coach of the Year honors.
With the NCAA South Regionals coming up on Saturday, Nov. 14, Taylor believes the dominating performance at the A-Sun Championships can be a springboard for both squads.
"The men have as good a chance as any team at Regionals,” Taylor said. “The men's side is not as strong and not very consistent. If they use today's performance to vault themselves into Regionals, something big is possible.
"The women are close,” Taylor said. “We need to solve our pack issues just a bit. The women's side of the South is the strongest it has been in 15 or 20 years. That could actually work to our advantage though.
"It's wonderful to win, and we will enjoy it today,” Taylor said. “Our focus moves to Regionals pretty quick though. I think both teams are ready to give their best there. We are all looking forward to it."