Taylor looks back on the best T&F season ever
Friday, July 19, 2013
By Mark McGee
Taylor looks back on the best T&F season ever

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Bill Taylor, Director of Men's and Women's Cross Country and Track and Field, and his staff usually have smiles all around when they remember the previous track and field and cross country seasons.

This year the smiles were even bigger than previous seasons.

“At the end of every season, for my six years so far at Lipscomb, I get the honor and joy of talking about the progress we have made and all the incredible improvement that has taken place,” Taylor said. “And so it is again this year.

“Our men and women had yet another stellar year in every way.  The bar has been set ever higher in our quest to be the best in the Atlantic Sun and the best in the nation.”

Taylor stresses that when he says ‘best’ he is not referring just to the athletic side of the programs. But as part of the review he thinks that the athletic accomplishments are good place to start.

“Athletically we had our top finishes ever in Women’s Indoor Track & Field, Men’s Outdoor Track & Field and Women’s Outdoor Track & Field,” Taylor said. “In all four sports we tied or beat our highest team finish ever.  In three of the four we tied or beat our highest point total ever.  In two of the four we had the most All-Atlantic Sun honors we’ve ever had.

“We had the most A-Sun Athletes of the week we’ve ever had…almost as many this season as we have had total in the history of the program.  We had our first ever A-Sun MVP, and our first two A-Sun Track Athletes of the Year.  We had by far the most A-Sun Champion honors we’ve ever had.”

The accomplishments for the track programs went beyond excellence in the conference.

“We qualified our first ever runner to the NCAA I National Championship finals,” Taylor said. “We qualified our first ever runner to the United States Track & Field National Championships. We qualified the most we’ve ever qualified to the U.S. Junior National Championships. And we had our first ever NCAA I All-American honoree.”

The school record book was rewritten again with 31 records set.

Three A-Sun Championship records were also set by Lipscomb athletes - Dani Walker in the 3000m, Tucker Peabody in the 200m outdoor and Madi Talbert in the 3000m Steeplechase.

“We are known as a women’s distance power,” Taylor said. “That continues as we finished 1-4 in the A-Sun 5000m.

“We are also becoming known as a women’s steeplechase power, having three different women win the past three A-Sun Championships, having had at least one woman earn All-A-Sun honors all six years that I’ve been here and having our first NCAA I National Championship runner qualify, in the Steeplechase.”

This year the track teams enhance their reputations with their performances in a number of events.

“We had a young men’s distance squad do some amazing things,” Taylor said. “Four different freshmen ran in the 14s for 5000 meters this year.  We had another freshman drop from about 1:58 to 1:53 PR in the 800 meters.

“Our hurdle crew swept the A-Sun 400m Hurdles.  Tucker Peabody leads our sprints as one of the top sprinters in the entire nation.  Our throws, jumps and vault continue to improve and make an impact in the conference and beyond.  We are young, hungry, and talented and our best days are ahead of us athletically.”

Academics are also an integral part of the track programs and this year was no exception in the classroom.

“Both teams will earn National Academic team honors for the sixth straight year,” Taylor said.  “Our women’s team had the top Scholar-Athlete in the entire conference for both Indoor Track & Field (Dani Walker) and outdoor Track & Field (Tessa Hoefle).

“We had 22 athletes make the men’s or women’s A-Sun All-Academic team.  There were a total of 50 spots available for athletes from all teams in the A-Sun (six teams), so we had nearly half the spots just with Lipscomb.  In outdoor alone, there were 26 spots available.  Lipscomb Track & Field had 13 of them.”

Taylor and his staff also express a desire for the track and field athletes to be all-around students, not just dwelling on runner and the classroom.

“Socially, as a team, we continue to work in the community doing service projects and giving back,” Taylor said. “We don’t always publicize these activities because we are doing them to learn, grow and give to others.

“Spiritually, we had our fourth consecutive mission trip in December. Our time in Haiti at the Cap Haitien Children’s Home was a life changing experience that we look forward to continuing in the future.  Our teams continue to lead the way with team devotions and active involvement in their spiritual growth.”

The track and field programs have also developed a reputation for the closeness of the teams. They are known for their enthusiasm in their support of their teammates at meets around the country.

“Our team environment continues to stand apart from other teams,” Taylor said. “We are consistently one of the most supportive teams at every meet we go to. We continually get comments about how well we treat each other, how well we support each other, and how well we treat everyone else we come into contact with.

“Our character and behavior stand out and are very noticeable. We take pride in building a team family, and get great joy in taking care of each other.  It makes this more fun, more rewarding and we reach a higher level of success because we are unified and a family.”

Taylor is pleased with the results from his teams, but he is always looking for ways to get better as a program. It is a never-ending cycle.

“This truly has been the best year yet athletically, academically, socially, spiritually and in team environment.  I am so proud of these programs and how committed they are in every way. Yet, just as we celebrate the success and experiences of this season, we already look to the next season.

“We look to get better yet again in every way. We want to take the program once again where it has never been before.  We want to make more history.  We want to write even better chapters to the story.  We want to recruit the next class of amazing people to help write the story.  And to have even more fun, if that is possible, than we have so far.”

Taylor knows that success cannot be continued without good people surrounding his programs. He doesn’t take anyone for granted.

“I want to say thank you 2013 Lipscomb Track & Field for the best year yet,” Taylor said. “To our seniors, we thank you for your contribution in building something amazing.  You are always part of this team.  To our returners we thank you the same, as we look with excitement and anticipation about the story you will write next year, and the things you will achieve as we continue to strive for more success and greatness.

“To our Administrators, led by Athletic Director Philip Hutcheson and University President Dr. Lowry, along with Vice President Danny Taylor, and all the rest of our Athletic Department leadership, we thank you for your amazing support in helping us grow and succeed.  To Head athletic trainer Will Ness and to our athletic trainer Jeremy Dobbs, thank you for taking care of us.  To Mark McGee and Ryan Hilgemann, thank you for writing amazing stories for telling our story.  To Steven Mason, thank you for making our athletes strong, and for leading all of our mission trips.  And to Zak Vruwink, thank you for taking amazing pictures for us this season, and for your love for our team.

“I thank an amazing coaching staff for doing everything in their power to help our student-athletes succeed in every way, to supporting my vision for this program and to being committed to coaching excellence - Luke Syverson with jumps and throws and  Marcus Evans with sprints and hurdles.  I thank Jenny Randolph for helping me with distance, Randy Welch who volunteered his time with our throwers and Chad Roberts who worked most of the year as our operations coordinator.”

Taylor is eagerly awaiting the new crop of athletes ready to start school in August.

“To our incoming freshmen, and future recruiting classes, we welcome you to the most unique and special team in the nation,” Taylor said. “We cannot wait to see your fingerprints on our fun and success.  We cannot wait to read your chapter in our history.

“Most of all, we thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  He is everything.”