Three Lipscomb track and field athletes will represent the university at the NCAA East Preliminary Round May 24-26 in Jacksonville, Fla. Sophomores Tucker Peabody and Dani Walker and freshman Kendra Lobley will be on the track and hungry for marks that propel them on to June’s NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
Walker and Lobley are the first-ever female national qualifiers for Lipscomb track and field, while Peabody is the first qualifier for the men in the Division I era.
"We've had another terrific season, with huge improvements, and today's announcement was the topping on the cake,” said Lipscomb head coach Bill Taylor. “We were nearly positive Kendra had made it in the steeplechase. We thought Tucker was on the outside looking in, and we didn't really have much hope that Dani was going to make it in. To get all three into the preliminary round of the national championships was a terrific surprise and maybe the biggest moment in program history. It is certainly the biggest moment in the NCAA I era for the program.
"Kendra, Dani and Tucker have worked so hard and really deserve this opportunity. It is well deserved.”
Lobley ranked the highest among the trio, with her gold-medal steeple performance at the Atlantic Sun Championships (10:32.97s) ranking her 49th in the region. She is fifth in the East among freshmen in the steeple.
The March 21 A-Sun Runner of the Week, Lobley was ranked in the top-five nationally in the 5000m run earlier this season and won the gold in that event at the A-Sun Championships. She was A-Sun Freshman of the Year, the first Lipscomb athlete to claim that award.
Walker won the A-Sun Runner of the Week honor for May 9 for her school-record 5K run of 16:38.53s at the Oxy Invitational. That run ranks her 83rd in the region prior to the preliminary round.
She picked up two silver medals at the A-Sun Championships, in the 1500m run (4:34.66s) and the 4x400m relay (3:50.26s).
Peabody earned four medals at the A-Sun championships, with two gold (200m dash, 4x400m relay) and two bronze (100m, 4x100m) medals going into his trophy case. His 21.14s 200m mark earned him the A-Sun gold and qualified him for the Preliminary Round.
A two-time A-Sun Runner of the Week honoree, Peabody was also named to the A-Sun Academic All-Conference team during outdoor season.
"These kids have come so far,” Taylor said. “Dani is a sophomore. Coming out of high school her 5K PR was 19:45; she’s lowered that by over three minutes. Kendra is a freshman and lowered her 5K by more than three minutes before her amazing steeplechase run, and she fell down in the middle (of the steeple). In two seasons, Tucker has lowered his 200m personal-best by nearly a full second! These are kids who have bought into the system, that work their guts out, and who are flourishing in our unique environment. It's awesome to see them rewarded like this.
"This is also a sign of the future. I've been telling everyone that we will be a national power in cross country and track. And each year we get dramatically better. This is the next step and we have a lot more steps to go. We have the best college environment and the most positive and close team environment in the nation. We are ranked at the top of the nation in academics every year. We develop our athletes better than almost any program in the nation and we are a rising power. It's such an exciting time to be at Lipscomb and to be a part of the cross country and track teams!”
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