JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After sending out six student-athletes in five events over three days of competition at the NCAA Division I East Region Prelims, Lipscomb Track and Field has earned a much needed break.
Juniors Gemikal Prude and Madi Talbert qualified once again for the NCAA Division I National Championships on day two of the East Region Prelims in the high jump and 3000m steeplechase, respectively.
Sophomore Wayne Newman (110m high hurdle) and freshmen Karly Hibbard (javelin) and Paige Stoner (3000m steeplechase) all turned in worthy efforts in their events as well.
On day three, the results were not quite as glowing for the Bisons.
"Tonight was very rough,” Lipscomb Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Bill Taylor said. “To say it plainly, we didn't run well at all. It was such a strange contrast to last night.
"That is life, though. It stinks sometimes. We make mistakes. We make bad decisions. We doubt ourselves or we get caught up in the moment and it overwhelms us.”
Talbert and Stoner hit the track for their second race of the weekend, the 5,000m, while sophomore Sally Larson joined them for her first race of the meet.
"It's not fun when this happens,” Taylor said. “We feel bad, and we usually have a hard time figuring out what happened. Maybe we are a little embarrassed, which then clouds our ability to find the solutions.
"Madi, Sally and Paige all ran bad. I don't say that mean. It is what it is. It happens and we have to recognize when we succeed and when we don't. When I say they ran bad, I mean they made bad decisions and didn't run to their ability tonight.”
Stoner led the way for the trio with a time of 16:46.11 to finish 32nd. Talbert (17:10.34) and Larson (17:22.64) finished 44th and 47th.
"I don't care about result,” Taylor said. “I don't care how fast someone runs or what place they finish. For me, it's all about effort and decisions. Tonight wasn't a bad result because of the places and times, it was bad because of the decisions. They are human and humans make mistakes.
"The incredible news is, we have the opportunity to learn the most from our failures. It's hard to learn much from success. My biggest and most important changes in my life have always happened after my biggest failures and mistakes. That has been when I have been forced to look inside and ask myself 'What did I do to cause this result?’ and ‘What must I change to have a better result in the future?”
Taylor believes that success comes from failure, and that although the team did not reach their goals for Saturday’s race, there will be a great learning experience gleaned from the results.
"I have had an incredibly successful career,” Taylor said. “I've won a National Championship. I've been blessed to build Lipscomb into a power, and win tons of conference titles. Every bit of success I have had, has been the result of epic failures. It has been the result of making some horrible decisions and learning from them.
"Of course we have to make the choice to take responsibility for our failures and mistakes, and then we have to commit to finding solutions and making changes. When we do that, we show maturity and we ultimately turn one negative experience into a thousand amazing future experiences.”
Despite the sting of not qualifying for the National Championships in some of the events, the future is bright for the Bisons. All of the weekend’s competitors are returning next season for Lipscomb.
"The girls talked with us (the coaches) tonight a few hours after the race,” Taylor said. “It wasn't easy. They were disappointed. I think they wanted to talk and didn't want to talk. I get it. I was an athlete, and I've been there.
"It was a very good talk. They want to be incredible. They know they have things they can and will change. I am confident that all three are ready to learn and grow and be far better in the future. “
Taylor says that athletics is about more than winning and losing, it’s about what you take from the experience.
"When it really comes down to it, that is the actual purpose of athletics and everything else,” Taylor said. “We think it's about winning and losing. That's a lie. It's really about learning who we are, taking responsibility for our failings, learning from our failures and striving to be far better. That's what athletics is truly about. The winning takes care of itself.”
After such a successful season, Taylor is proud of his team and excited to see what happens next.
"It's been a great year, and no matter what happened tonight, I am proud of the girls for what they've accomplished, and what type of team environment they have created,” Taylor said. “We have a long way to go still to be the program we can and will be. Even though the results were not what was expected, we can use tonight to be far better than we've ever been, in every way."
Prude and Talbert will compete in the National Championships in Eugene, Oregon. The meet will take place on June 10-13. This is third National Championships appearance for both athletes.