“I believe a great foundation has been set,” said Bisons head coach Bill Taylor. “ Now we need to continue to develop all these young athletes we have, while we work hard to bring in the right recruits in the future. We need to increase our women’s roster. We also need to build an elite distance program while we continue to expand our Track & Field program to be well balanced and championship level in every event. It’s a tough, yet very fun building process.
“We’ve come so far in the two short years I’ve been here. The sky is the limit for us. This is such an incredible school. It is a unique place to grow in every aspect. There aren’t many NCAA Division I programs that are as serious about athletics, academics, high character and using this sport to grow in Christ. Word is spreading, excitement is building within and without, and the best is definitely yet to come. We’ve barely scratched the surface.”
The winners as voted by team members and coaches are:
Most Improved Award – Jeff Hoover, a sophomore from Dickson, Tenn., was voted the Most Improved for 2009. Jeff set huge PR’s in the 1500m and 3000m this year and improved dramatically throughout the indoor and outdoor season. He showed intense competitive fire in each race.
“Jeff truly earned the most improved award after struggling during the cross country season and dealing with illness during his freshman track season that derailed that whole season,” said Taylor.
He finished his great sophomore campaign by scoring in the 1500m at the A-Sun meet.
“Jeff was overwhelmingly voted most improved both by the coaches and his teammates,” said Taylor. “He really stepped up this season. He was also a great example to his teammates of what can happen when you get that competitive fire and leave it all out there. Jeff had a terrific season and took himself to a whole new level.”
Fightin’ Bison Award – Chad Roberts, a senior from Sorrento, Fla., was voted the Fightin’ Bison for the person who demonstrates the most guts, mental toughness and physical toughness.
Chad set the tone for the men’s 4x400 relay and for the whole men’s team. In anchoring the men’s 4x400m relay, he always battled to the end for the team. Chad came back for his redshirt season of track because he wanted to get a conference medal. He ended the season with two.
He anchored the men’s indoor and outdoor 4x400m relay teams to All Atlantic-Sun Honors and a pair of silver medals. For indoor track it was only the second All Atlantic-Sun Conference performance in Lipscomb University history. It was the first ever outdoor All Atlantic-Sun Conference performance in Lipscomb history (along with Steven Lindsey in the HJ this year).
In the process his indoor team set a new school record and his outdoor team narrowly missed the school record. His outdoor 4x400m relay also qualified for the NCAA I Mideast Regional Championships, the first men in Lipscomb history to qualify (along with Steven Lindsey in the HJ this year).
“I’m so happy that Chad came back and led the 4x400m relay teams to All-Conference honors,” said Taylor. “ He got his medals and helped five other guys get a medal as well. Chad put his name in our history books this year and he definitely showed what a Fightin’ Bison is all about.”
For the Team Award – Clint Carter, a senior from Angleton, Texas was voted the “For the Team” award. It is presented to the person who is the best teammate and the person who is most positive, motivating and caring. As a team captain and a natural leader, Clint gave his personal best in every race, stepped up for the 4x400m relay and was a vocal and emotional motivator for the whole men’s team.
“Clint is just a great guy and has been a strong vocal leader for this program,” said Taylor. “I was so happy to see him earn his conference medal and to get the experience of competing at Regionals in his senior year.
“He has been a person that holds his teammates accountable, which is essential for team success. He has made huge contributions to our rapid increases in success the past two years, and has helped pour the foundation for the huge future success that is coming.”
Heart of Gold Award - Ryan Chastain, from Mitchell, Ind., received the “Heart of Gold Award”. It is presented to a runner who demonstrates the highest character, who doesn’t compromise and who does the right thing even when nobody is looking. Ryan, a team captain and the top distance runner on the track team, was also voted this award last cross country season.
“Everyone knows that Ryan has a huge heart for God, for people and for his teammates,” said Taylor. “He is a spiritual leader for the team, and leads with his feet as well by setting the tone in every practice and race. The whole team knows that Ryan’s desire is for their success and growth, that he cares deeply for them and that he will do everything in his power to help them succeed in every way.”
Total Commitment Award – Chad Martin, a freshman from Coppell, Texas, was overwhelmingly voted the Total Commitment Award which is given to the person “that did it right, did it all and did all the little things”.
“Chad was definitely the shining example of Total Commitment,” said Taylor. “I heard over and over from his teammates about how Chad did everything he was asked to do. He gave 100 percent effort in workouts, did all the little things he was asked to do, ate right, and took care of business in the classroom as well with a 4.0 GPA in Engineering. It was very tough for Chad at times, especially since he battled some health issues all year that held him back, yet he PR’d big in the 5000m and had an amazing race at Conference, finishing as our top 5k guy there.
“Chad was a shining example to the rest of the team that if you buy in, do it all 100 percent, great things are going to happen for you. I know that Chad is going to reach far higher in this sport over the next three years and he is going to influence the team to do it right.”
Freshman of the Year Award – Steven Lindsey from Falkville, Ala., was named “Freshman of the Year”. Steven scored at both the indoor and outdoor A-Sun meets in the high jump, earning a program high second place finish at outdoor with an equal jump to first place. He PR’d in the high jump with a 6-7 leap this year and he qualified for the NCAA I Mideast Regional Championships. He was the first individual in Lipscomb A-Sun history to earn All-ASun Individual honors.
“Steven had a bit of a roller coaster year,” said Taylor. “He had a terrific indoor season before bruising his heal after going 6-7. After missing some time in recovery, he struggled mid-season, then pulled it all together at the end of the outdoor season to earn All-Conference honors and punch his ticket to Regionals.
“He was the high individual scorer for the team at both the Indoor and Outdoor A-Sun Championships. Steven is the core of what we hope will be a phenomenal future jumps core and he showed that a freshman can come in and immediately make a huge impact.”
Athlete of the Year Award – For the men this year, this award will be the “Athlete’s” of the year award. Instead of an individual, the men’s 4x400m relay teams was voted by the team and coaches as “Athlete of the Year.” The Indoor and Outdoor relay teams set the tone for the whole program. They stepped up and competed at their best when their best was needed.
Both teams were the first relay All-A-Sun Conference relays in Lipscomb Track & Field history, and the outdoor team qualified and competed at the NCAA I Mideast Regional Championships. The Indoor 4x400m Relay was: Mike Knox, Dustin Little, Brock Lutes and Chad Roberts. The Outdoor 4x400m Relay was: Mike Knox, Clint Carter, Andrew Jones and Chad Roberts.
“I’m proud of the men’s program for voting these relays for this award,” said Taylor. “Collegiate Track & Field is often not a team sport. We don’t score most meets and chasing marks is often the focus. I love team though and I believe the 4x400m Relay is the heart of a Track & Field team.
“ I had a goal from day one of developing this relay and it is terrific how quickly that has happened. All the guys on these relays gave their absolute best for their teammates and ran with great pride. I loved watching these guys fight. They established the tradition of excellence in this event that all future teams will follow and push higher. It was so fun watching them."
Team captains for the year were Ryan Chastain, Clint Carter and Andrew Shankles.
Members of the A-Sun All-Academic Team are Josh Baker, Jared Carlson, Trace Carlson, Cormac Carolan-Tolbert, Ryan Chastain, Burton Elrod, Ben Fennell, Jeff Hoover, Alex Jerkins, Michael Knox, Joey Lever, Chad Martin, Steven Mason, Austin Ray, Benton Reed, Chad Roberts, Andrew Shankles, David Wolfe, and Paul Wright.
Members of the A-Sun All-Conference team are Clint Carter (outdoor 4x4), Andrew Jones (outdoor 4x4), Michael Knox (indoor 4x4, outdoor 4x4), Steven Lindsey (outdoor HJ), Dustin Little (indoor 4x4), Brock Lutes (indoor 4x4) and Chad Roberts (indoor 4x4, outdoor 4x4).
The NCAA I Mideast Regional Championship Qualifiers were Clint Carter (4x4), Andrew Jones (4x4), Michael Knox (4x4), Steven Lindsey (HJ) and Chad Roberts (4x4).
“We really had an amazing season from the first indoor meet in January all the way through the Outdoor Regional Championships,” said Taylor. “Both the men and women pushed this program up several levels. Many school records were set, gigantic PR’s were crushed nearly every meet. In fact, having one or more athletes drop 15, 20, 30 or more seconds became pretty much the norm. That is the sign of a program on the rise and it means we are all doing the things we need to do.
“The men’s and women’s teams had the best Atlantic Sun Conference Championships in Lipscomb school history. We had more All Atlantic-Sun award winners than ever before and qualified six to the Regional Championships. “