EUGENE, Oregon – Lipscomb track and field athletes Madi Talbert and Gemikal Prude will begin their quest for dominance as the NCAA Nationals kick off on Wednesday.
Talbert qualified in the 3000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10:08.21 placing her in the top 12 of the preliminary round.
Finishing eighth overall, Prude qualified in the high jump with a leap of 2.14 meters.
"The National Championships are exciting, but I don't really see them as a big deal,” said Bill Taylor, director of track and field. “What I mean is this is where we should be. It's just racing.
“The best athletes bring out the best in you. The track is the same distance around and the high jump is the same height for everyone. It's all about how you view the opportunity.”
Taylor says Prude and Talbert are approaching the opportunity with calm excitement and see the nationals as an experience and an opportunity.
“Last year it felt big to Madi,” Taylor said. “Now she just wants to go out there and race and see what happens.
“Gemikal has already proven at the NCAA I Indoor National Championships that he keeps it all in perspective. Both athletes believe this is where they should be. They believe they are as good as anyone in the nation.”
Even more impressive for the pair is that they are appearing at nationals as sophomores.
"It's also nice that both are sophomores,” Taylor said. “While you can't take anything for granted, they both expect to be here in the future too. So this experience is just that, an opportunity to learn and grow and discover.”
With Talbert qualifying for the second year and Prude for the first, Taylor has a strong feeling regarding the future of the Lipscomb track and field program.
"The big thing I want to say though, and I felt this last year, is that this is where we are supposed to be as a program,” Taylor said. “What I mean is, we have a lot of athletes on our men's and women's teams that can and should be at these national championships too.
“At the national championships last year I had this feeling the whole time that it's not that big a deal and we should have tons of athletes here every year. We are just waiting for them to know and believe and it will happen.”
Taylor believes Prude and Talbert could be key in propelling the program forward to its full potential.
“I know Gemikal and Madi really want more teammates here,” Taylor said. “They want Lipscomb to expand our national presence, in cross country and track & field.”
Taylor feels the two will lead the way and have a strong impact on the rest of the team.
"So next year, when we qualify a lot more athletes, Madi and Gemikal can help them prepare and compete,” Taylor said. “This week is going to be fun. So is the future!"
Talbert will compete in the semifinals of the 3000-meter steeplechase on Wednesday night in heat two while Prude competes in the finals of the high jump on Friday.
The steeplechase will be live on ESPN3 online as well as on ESPNU.
The men’s high jump will be shown on ESPNU as well.