Two Lipscomb University Track athletes and two coaches will travel to Eugene, Oregon this week to compete in the United States Junior National Championships at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus.
Freshman Dani Walker qualified for the 2011 Junior National Championship meet in the 800m, 1500m, 3000m and 5000m. She will compete in just the 5000m since it fits with her summer Cross Country training program the best. Her race will be on Friday (June 24th) at 10:10 a.m. pacific time.
Tucker Peabody, also a freshman, qualified for Junior Nationals in the 100m and 200m. He will compete in the 100m preliminaries on Friday at 11:15 a.m. If he advances to the finals he will race again at 12:55 p.m.. On Saturday Tucker will compete in the 200m preliminaries at 4:40 p.m.. If he advances in the 200m he will race the finals at 7:25 p.m.
Freshman Katie Bunker also qualified for the US Junior Nationals in the 800m. Unfortunately she will not be able to compete as she recovers from a late track season injury.
Dani and Tucker will be accompanied to the Junior National meet by head cross country and track & field coach Bill Taylor and Assistant Coach Luke Syverson. Coach Taylor is also the distance coach, while Coach Syverson directed the sprinters this past season.
“This is a really great opportunity for Dani and Tucker,” said head coach Bill Taylor. “They will get incredible experience at a big meet that will pay off in future competitions for them. Every time you compete in a championship or at a big event, it makes it that much more normal the next time. It’s the reason we build such strong cross country and track & field schedules each season. We want our athletes to get big opportunities and to get used to top competitions. It makes them better mentally and physically and pushes the program forward.
“Dani is in summer base training, so this will be a benchmark of her summer fitness. She is such a great competitor that I know she will have fun and compete hard. It’s pretty incredible that she qualified in so many events. I think running the 5000m is perfect for her cross country season preparation.
“Tucker had a big freshman year in the sprints. This is a nice reward for such a big year, and gives him an opportunity to continue his rapid improvement."
To qualify for the United States Junior National Championships an athlete must meet a qualifying standard in each event and the Junior classification is limited to athletes who are fourteen (14) years or older on the day of competition and will not become twenty (20) years of age during the year of the competition.
The 2011 USA Junior Outdoor Championships will also serve as the selection meet for the 2011 Pan American Junior Championships. The top four finishers will be asked to register, with two being selected to compete.
“It is also another nice step forward for our program," said Taylor. "The improvement of the program has been dramatic in the four years I’ve been here. It’s exciting to see Lipscomb Cross Country and Track & Field rising up to that upper tier national level. A meet like this gives us great exposure for the program and the university.
“We’re still young and we’ve got a lot of work to do yet, but each year we see dramatic improvement and our goals are very clear.
“This is a special culture here at Lipscomb and in our program. It’s unlike any other NCAA DI university. It’s perfect to build the right kind of program and to be a top program in the nation.
Taylor hopes that the Junior National Championship is a stepping block for the program.
"Our next steps are to get teams to cross country nationals, get individuals regularly to track nationals, and to qualify athletes to the US National Championships," said Taylor. "With the recruiting success we are having, I am certain we will be bringing more athletes to the Junior National Championships each year as well."
Freshman Missy Dowd just missed qualifying in the 5000m this year, and freshman Tessa Hoefle, who ran 17:15 for 5000m this past season, was born in October of 1991, just missing being qualified by the age limit requirement.