NASHVILLE - The Lipscomb cross country squad began its 2017 season on the right foot as the Bisons grabbed a pair of second-place finishes at the Belmont Opener on Saturday morning.
The race took place at Lipscomb’s home course Vaughn’s Creek, and featured several fellow Nashville schools including host Belmont, Vanderbilt, Trevecca, and Rhodes.
"I am really happy with the performances of the men and women today,” Lipscomb Director of Cross Country Bill Taylor said. “Both teams were running without some of our top runners and both teams saw teammates step it up. We saw a lot of toughness and positive energy out there.”
The women finished second with 43 total points, placing them behind Vanderbilt with 21 points and ahead of the host Bruins at 70 points.
The men’s squad came in just three points behind host Belmont as the Bruins and Bisons finished with 26 and 29 points, respectively.
Sophomore Courtney Brenner finished first overall in the individual competition with a time of 17:40.6.
"Courtney had a terrific race,” Taylor said. “She ran tough, relaxed and very smart. She is a very driven athlete and fun to work with. She is super coachable, which makes my job more fun. Courtney ran a perfect race for an opening meet. This builds her confidence and is a great start.”
Freshman Lauren Flynt (18:19.7), junior Bridgette Doucet (18:37.4), and senior Katie Sperry (18:38.6) also placed in the top 10, finishing sixth, ninth, and 10th.
"Lauren Flynt had a terrific freshman debut,” Taylor said. “She is a very smooth runner and showed a ton of courage putting herself up there and running her own race. Often, a freshman doesn't know what to do and might be a little timid. Lauren just got out and ran a terrific opener. She is going to be an incredible collegiate runner.”
"Bridgette and Katie Sperry had great races as well. I think this was the best all-around race I have seen from Bridgette as a collegiate runner. Every time I saw her she looked strong, and I felt she looked stronger and faster as the race went on.
“Katie Sperry has come a long way since her freshman year. She had some nice breakthroughs last track season, but I could see that there is a whole new level possible for her.”
Junior Clare Losito (18:54.23) and freshmen Kayla Rudie (19:02.48) and Chandler Bergeron (19:15.49) also earned points as they finished 17th, 18th, and 22nd, respectively.
"Freshmen Kayla Rudie, Chandler Bergeron and Haley Kling also ran very well,” Taylor said. “I was very happy with all the freshmen women on the team. As far as I could tell, they all came to this race brave and ran hard.
“They showed more maturity and calmness than you would expect in their first race. They are a talented group, more talented than they know. It's going to be fun watching them develop. It was a great start to their collegiate careers today.
On the men’s side, the Bisons took three of the top-five spots as freshman Silas Griffith (15:30.5) placed second, while sophomores John Green (15:32.3) and Zach Israel (15:35.1) finished third and fifth.
"John Green and Silas Griffith ran side by side pretty much throughout the race,” Taylor said. “The pace wasn't blazing fast. The conditions were pretty bad in terms of standing water and footing. They led parts of the race together. It is really encouraging to see a freshman step up like Silas did in his first race. Honestly, you wouldn't know he was a freshman by watching him race. He showed confidence and maturity and was very relaxed.
“John Green has taken a huge step forward from his freshman year. It's a gigantic boost to the men's team and our chances for success at the end of the season. He too is smooth and bold. It's important to be able to take intelligent chances, and he is showing both that he has the courage to give himself the best chance, and the intelligence to know what to do and what not to do. He's going to have a big season and is setting himself up for an incredible collegiate career.
Sophomores Owen Glogovsky (15:37.9) and William Kachman (15:38.9) rounded out the top 10 at ninth and 10th.
"Zach, William and Owen also ran very well,” Taylor said. “I think it was a big step forward for all three. Owen showed great progress today and looks ready to take a huge leap forward from his freshman year. We have a lot of depth and talent on the men's side as well.
“It will be great to bring in Juan and Jake and some other guys later in the season, but our team success is dependent on how many of the guys in this race continue what they have started and form a killer pack up near the front of every race. Today we saw the beginnings of that happening and the guys know what they need to do to take it to the next level."
Junior Kyle Johnson (15:47.26) and sophomore Brody Beiler (15:58.4) also grabbed points in 13th and 15th place.
"The men ran an exciting race,” Taylor said. “They established themselves up front and at about a mile and three-quarters we had a pack of about seven guys in the lead. Belmont ran a patient race plan and were just a little better than us in the final mile.
“I like what I saw though, and shoring up our packing and toughness longer race is very fixable. They guys are very motivated and I am certain that Coach Reed and the runners will make big improvements as the season goes on.”
The Purple and Gold will be back in action on Sept. 8 at the Kennesaw State ASUN Preview.
"You always wonder how your teams will respond when you don't put everyone in the race,” Taylor said. “Sometimes the team will fade off and lack confidence. What we saw was the opposite and what you hope for. We have great talent and depth. It was terrific to see our athletes make breakthroughs and put themselves up in the race. Some smart chances were taken today and it really paid off.”
"We also were able to see some very important areas we can immediately get better with both teams. Ultimately this meet is more of an exhibition. It doesn't count and it's value is more in setting the tone for the season, breaking the rust off, getting back into race mode, identifying what each person and each team did well, and learning were we have opportunities to improve. Today accomplished all of those.”