TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Lipscomb cross country squad closed out its regular season with a successful meet at the Crimson Classic on Friday morning, as the women’s team finished third overall and the men finished 12th.
The Lady Bisons set a blazing pace as they finished third in a strong field of competitors with an overall point total of 127, only placing behind hosts Alabama and Kentucky. The women’s squad finished above Southeastern Conference foes Georgia, Auburn, South Carolina, Mississippi, LSU, and Tennessee.
"The women ran very well today,” Lipscomb Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Bill Taylor said. “I thought all of the girls worked very hard out there. It was a bonus to finish 3rd out of 26 NCAA Division I teams, especially without Brooke Kingma running for us today.”
Senior Barbara Lee Ball led the way on the women’s side, finishing eighth out of 251 runners with a time of 21:06.3 in the 6000m.
"Barbara Lee got stronger and stronger through the race,” Taylor said. “She moved up from 28th at the mile to 10th overall and had a great finish.”
Junior Kacey Kemper (21:22.9) and sophomore Bridgette Doucet (21:29.8) finished close together in 18th and 21st, respectively, while senior Sally Larson (21:46.4) placed 36th.
"Sally really set the pace early,” Taylor said. “I'm really proud of her for being bold and getting out well. She's battling a bit of sickness, and I think that was the difference for her later in the race. We really need what she did for the team today.
"Kacey continues to impress. She has made so much progress this season and has solidified herself as one of our top runners this season. She's setting big huge PR's and looks calm and powerful. She has been really important for the team this season.
"Bridgette is also improving. She was way too far back early. This race has a downhill start, and with 35 or so total teams, it is a mess for a while. I think she got swallowed up in that mess early. She was 72nd at the mile. She finished 26th.That is a lot of people to battle through and pass. She did an incredible job of taking a bad situation and turning it into a good situation for herself and her team.”
Four more Lady Bisons finished in the top 100 as junior Avery Franklin (21:59.3) and freshman Courtney Brenner (22:03.2) placed 50th and 55th, respectively, and sophomores Hannah Owens (22:28.4) and Grace Oetting (22:31.6) took 76th and 79th.
"Avery and Courtney are solid and pretty darn consistent,” Taylor said. “Avery had a breakthrough race two weeks ago. She ran well today, yet she can run better. I'm waiting for Courtney to have a big breakthrough race. It's coming. She was stronger today. She is close to taking it to the next level.
"I was also very pleased with how Clare Losito ran. She took a huge step forward today and showed a lot of guts and fire. She is discovering that she can be really, really good. Her performance today will help her in so many ways.”
On the men’s side, the Bisons finished 12th overall in a similarly strong field as the women. Lipscomb compiled 375 total points, placing them ahead of LSU, Florida State, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State.
"It was a rough day for the men,” Taylor said. “Brent Leber led the team again. He ran well early, but he faded late.
"I know the guys want to be good. They are terrific people, and they have limitless talent. For some reason it almost feels like they are all waiting for someone else to step up, instead of each of them deciding to be the guy.”
Sophomore Brent Leber paced the men’s squad with a 39th place finish out of 217 runners thanks to a time of 25:43.2.
"We've been holding out our top three guys all season,” Taylor said. “Jake Poyner, Juan Gonzales, and Christian Freeman haven't run any races for the team this year. We want to make a run at Nationals next year with those three guys as redshirt seniors. It's been tough watching the other guys hesitate.”
A slew of Bisons finished in the lower half of the top 100, as freshman William Kachman (26:22.2), senior Jared Daedler (26:26.1), junior Sam Remington (26:30.5), sophomore Psalm Ocampo (26:31.6), freshman Kyle Johnson (26:32.3), sophomore Andrew Ayers (26:34.9), and sophomore Robert Rupp (26:36.6) placed in 84th, 86th, 91st, 94th, 95th, 98th, and 100th, respectively.
"It's their team now though,” Taylor said. “We are running without our top three. We will be amazing next year.
“Now it is up to this team, the team we have been running all this year, to decide to put it all on the line to finish this season. They absolutely can do anything they want. We see power and strength in every practice. They are trained, talented and a decision away. The men are a lot closer than today's result shows. We will learn a lot more in two weeks."
The Bisons will begin postseason action on October 29th at the ASUN Championships. The women’s squad will enter as the five-time defending champion, while the men have won three in a row.
"As well as we ran today, the girls can run better,” Taylor said. “A lot of girls were close to each other, but didn't pack up and work together. These are the last little things that make a big difference.
"We know exactly what we need to work on. We are so close. It will be really nice to get Brooke back out there too. We are set up well for the end of the season.”