JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Lipscomb track and field completed its first day of action at the NCAA Division I East Region Prelims on Thursday as freshman Karly Hibbard took part in the javelin competition.
Hibbard was back at the site where she recently won the Atlantic Sun championship in the javelin.
"Karly had a good first throw today and competed hard,” Lipscomb Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Bill Taylor said. “She finished 34th overall. Everyone who comes to this meet wants to finish in the top 12 of course; however we are also looking for other victories.”
Hibbard was the first Lipscomb female athlete to qualify for the East Region Prelims in a field event.
"To qualify for the NCAA I National Championship prelims in the javelin as a freshman is a huge accomplishment,” Taylor said. “To come and compete well is another major accomplishment. Today was a success and will serve Karly very well for bigger things in the future.”
Tomorrow is a big day for Lipscomb with four Bisons taking part in the day’s festivities.
Gemikal Prude will start off the day for Lipscomb in the high jump at 4 p.m. This is Prude’s fourth appearance in the National Championship Prelims in either indoor or outdoor.
"We have a big day tomorrow,” Taylor said. “Gemikal has the experience and knows what he needs to do to earn a return trip to National Finals. He has looked very good and very relaxed in practice. It's really exciting to watch him jump.”
Wayne Newman will be the next Bison to take the stage. He will compete in the 110m high hurdle at 4:30 p.m.
"Wayne has a mysterious road ahead of him,” Taylor said. “He is so talented, and he's a gamer. He's been out so long with the hamstring injury that it is really impossible to predict what he can do. Practices this week have been great, so we are very optimistic.
“Goal one is to compete hard and healthy. Goal two is to make it to the next round. If he can get a strong race under his belt in the first round and make it to the quarter-finals, anything is possible.”
The night will close out with Madi Talbert and Paige Stoner both taking on the 3000m steeplechase at 7:50 p.m.
"We are building a distance powerhouse here at Lipscomb, and steeple has been at the forefront of that,” Taylor said. “Madi has lead the way lately, especially at this level. Two years ago as a freshman she was the surprise of the meet, going from about 46th to 12th and qualifying for her first National Championship Finals by less than a tenth of a second.”
Talbert has been to the National Championships for the 3000m steeplechase in each of the last two seasons.
"Last year she had a slightly faster qualifying time, but found herself out of the prelims,” Taylor said. “Her season was over before this meet. Two days later we got the call that there was an injury scratch and she was in.
“For the second year in a row she made the most of it, qualifying in the 9th spot I think. At National Finals she earned second-team All-American honors. She's already accomplished things few have. She has a lot more she wants to accomplish though.”
With two consecutive National Championships, and three consecutive A-Sun titles, in the rearview mirror, Talbert is focused on making it back to the biggest stage.
"This year she has the 7th fastest time in the East,” Taylor said. “She is experienced, has improved her personal record significantly, and is on the edge of breaking the 10-minute barrier. The funny thing is, despite her resume and her current ranking, she is still under the radar. She knows what to do, and is ready to go.”
As a freshman, Stoner finished second only to Talbert at the A-Sun Championships, giving Lipscomb two qualifiers for the East Region Prelims in the same event
"For the first time in school history, we have two women qualified in the steeplechase,” Taylor said. “Paige has had an amazing freshman season and has the heart and desire of a lion. It's fun to watch her compete.
“Madi took to the steeple immediately as a freshman. It's been a bit more of a tentative road for Paige. Yet, she has had a stronger freshman season to this point than Madi did as a freshman.”
Having Talbert to compete with every day at practice and in meets has helped Stoner achieve the success she has this season.
"Of course it's been a big advantage to have Madi to train with and learn from,” Taylor said. “Paige's talent and desire put her right in the mix. We have a plan for her, just like we did with Madi the past two years. She will compete hard, and if she follows the plan, she will have a legit chance to move on. It's awesome if we can get one to National Finals, and would be incredible to get both there. It's also completely possible.”
With the first day already in the books, Taylor and the team are ready for day two.
"Today was a good start,” Taylor said. “Tomorrow will be a busy and exciting day two."