NASHVILLE - Lipscomb track and field had a successful weekend, grabbing several wins and breaking a quartet of school records at the Austin Peay Invite and the Mt. Sac Relays.
The Mt. Sac Relays started off slow for the Bisons on Thursday, but the Purple and Gold promptly followed with a strong Friday and Saturday performance.
"This was our first time out to the Mt. SAC Relays,” Lipscomb Director of Cross Country and track and Field Bill Taylor said. “It's one of the best meets in the country and one of the biggest. Thursday was a bit rough for us there.
“Sally Larson wasn't herself in the 10,000m and Christian Freeman looked great for over half of his 3000m steeplechase, but just couldn't hold it on that day. He finished with a time of 9:09.70, less than a second off his personal and school record.”
With finals coming up for the student-athletes, Taylor was not sure how the team would perform on Friday.
"Going into Friday I was concerned,” Taylor said. “Finals are this coming week, and we have often struggled athletically as finals week approaches. Our practices have been off too, for a variety of reasons. I was just hoping we could shake it all off and perform well.”
Despite a potential recipe for a letdown, the Bisons had a great day Friday. Madi Talbert turned in a performance that should earn her a spot NCAA Division I National Championship preliminary round qualifiers, while Wayne Newman improved upon a time that should already qualify him.
"Friday turned out terrific,” Taylor said. “Wayne set the tone in the morning with a great 110m high hurdles performance of 14.01 to tie for the heat win and to improve his own school record, personal record, and A-Sun lead.
"Then Madi ran the best race of her career in the 5000m,” Taylor said. “She put herself up near the front and reacted to everything that was happening. She fell off just a bit in the final few laps, though she continued to fight hard. Her time of 16:20.52 is a personal record, breaks our school record by more than 10 seconds, and will qualify her for the NCAA Division I National Championship preliminary round in the 5000m.”
Talbert is a two-time National Championship qualifier in the 3000m steeplechase, and hopes to earn the distinction in the 5000m this season.
"Currently Madi is ranked number one in the A-Sun in the 5000m and the 3000m steeplechase,” Taylor said. “Her 5000m time is ranked 25th in the East Region and 56th in the nation. She is a national prelim qualifier in both the 5000m and the 3000m Steeplechase.”
Juan Gonzalez also ran in the 5000m, and was only a few seconds short of last year’s East Region qualifying time in the event.
"Juan followed Madi with his 5000m race,” Taylor said. “Just like Madi, he competed hard and positioned well. His time of 14:15.98 broke his own school record by seven seconds. He now ranks second in the A-Sun and 51st in the East Region.”
The top-notch performances kept coming in the distance events, as both Paige Stoner and Barbara Lee Ball both blazed through their events.
"Paige Stoner and Barbara Lee Ball were up next and both ran terrific as well,” Taylor said. “Paige ended up leading most of the first half of the race, as nobody would set a fast enough pace. Paige finished with a time of 16:42.54, an eight second personal record.
“Barbara Lee missed her personal record by just a second, running 16:49.97. Paige now ranks second in the A-Sun and 58th in the East Region, while Barbara Lee holds down the fourth spot in the A-Sun.”
The slow start did not lessen the Taylor’s thoughts on the team’s Mt. Sac performance.
"So Mt. SAC started a bit off, and then finished with a lot of fireworks,” Taylor said. “It was a very successful meet and a nice set up for the final stretch.”
At the Austin Peay Invite, the Bisons earned a slew of victories and even took the overall team win on the men’s side.
“I think the meet gave us what we needed in that it gave some of our athletes another opportunity to improve marks going into the A-Sun Championships,” Lipscomb assistant coach Luke Syverson said. “It also showed us areas where we still need to improve on if we are going to have a successful championship meet.”
Although the venue provided a challenge, the throwers came through with a solid meet.
“The throwers faced a number of facility challenges as Austin Peay had not completed their throwing venues after the track and stadium were renovated,” Syverson said. “That threw us for a loop, but I was pleased with the javelin group who came out and made the best of it.”
Like her teammates at the Mt. Sac Relays, Karly Hibbard turned in a likely East Region-qualifying performance.
“Karly Hibbard continues her improvement and came out with not only the win, but also a huge personal record and new school record,” Syverson said. “Her throw of 149'10 ranks her first in the A-Sun, 31st in the East Region and 64th in the nation. The mark will qualify her for the NCAA I National Championship Prelims.”
Other field athletes stepped up at the Austin Peay Invite as well.
“Nelson Scott competed for the first time this year in the javelin, and placed second with a lifetime personal record of 159'9.
“Both Kevin Floyd (pole vault) and Ravyn Rowlett (high jump) continue knocking on the door of increasing their personal records with close attempts, as both finished second in their respective events.”
Floyd now ranks first in the A-Sun in the pole vault.
The distance races were also a success at Austin Peay, with Minna Fields and Jared Wingerter taking home first place in the women’s and men’s 5000m respectively.
“Both Minna Fields and Jared Wingerter looked good in route to winning the women's and men's 5000m,” Syverson said. “They ran on their own, and battling temps in the mid 80's late in the day. It was also good to see senior Tyler Glenn finish off his collegiate career in the 1500m.”
Newman was the only Bison to compete in both events over the weekend.
“Wayne’s win in the men's 400m hurdle was a battle after coming back late last night from competing in the 110m hurdles at Mt. Sac Relays,” Syverson said. “He hit the track after crushing the second hurdle, showing his competitive side to take the win.”
Jalen Thompson had a big weekend, taking second in both the 100m (11.34 seconds) and 200 (22.32 seconds) after finishing third in the triple jump (13.57m) on Friday evening.”
Lipscomb will be following up their successful weekend with some time off to focus on academics.
"The weekend was strong for us at both meets,” Taylor said. “Now the teams face finals from the end of this week into the next. So we will take the weekend off from competition to allow them to focus on academics.”
Once finals are over, the focus will shift to a slew of events.
"The weekend after finals the teams will split up again, going to as many as four different locations,” Taylor said. “The bulk of the team will compete at the University of Tennessee's 'Tennessee Challenge'.
“The top distance girls will travel to Oregon State and Stanford for high-powered meets, and in some cases, final attempts to get National Championship Prelim marks. The top distance guys will either travel to Oregon State or to Ohio State. We are evaluating which competitions give them the best opportunity to advance this year.”