NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb track and field squad only has to travel across town for its first indoor meet of the season, the 2015 Commodore Invitational at Vanderbilt. The event looks to be a jumping off point for the Bisons coming off of a successful 2013-14 campaign.
“It's always hard to predict or to have performance expectations in your first meet of the season,” Lipscomb head coach Bill Taylor said. “This is especially true with the Indoor season. This is really a starting point. Our athletes will set a bar they will try to raise throughout the season.
"Our bigger evaluation in an opening meet like this is on how hard our athletes compete. Do they show competitive character and toughness? What their actual performance results are is not important. Attitude and competitiveness are what we are looking for here.”
The Commodore Invitational, which begins on Friday and will continue into Saturday, marks the latest opening meet in Taylor’s tenure as head coach at Lipscomb. Taylor thinks this late start will have a positive effect on the team in the long run.
"This is the latest we have started our track season in my time at Lipscomb,” Taylor said. “I think delaying the start is good. We have a very long competitive season when you combine indoor and outdoor track. Starting a couple weeks later than normal shortens the season in a positive way, and it also gives our athletes a bit more time to prepare for the season.”
In Taylor’s opinion, the distance runners will be affected the most by the late start, something the team has faced and overcome in previous seasons.
"Our distance athletes are really competing cold,” Taylor said, “We have done almost zero quality training. It's been almost all base distance mileage.
“Of course, that is true every year for our first two indoor meets. So they aren't necessarily prepared to race, yet we always seem to do pretty well. That being said, our goals are later in the season and the end of the outdoor season. So we take what we get early, in order to be far better later.”
The Invitational features 13 women’s teams and 11 men’s teams. Fellow Nashville schools Belmont and TSU will be joining Lipscomb and Vanderbilt in the event. MTSU and Tennessee will also be participating.
Several Bisons had career-best performances in the 2013-14 campaign and are looking to build upon that for the upcoming season. Taylor explains that it’s hard to predict who will perform well in the first meet, but many of the standouts from last season will be ones to watch again.
"It's hard to predict athletes to watch for this opening meet,” Taylor said. “Returning All-American high jumper Gemikal Prude is always a highlight. Wayne Newman had a terrific freshman indoor season last year and has had great practices. Our distance women, led by Madi Talbert, are always exciting to watch. Juan Gonzalez in the men's 3000m will be fun to watch as well.”
Prude, a senior, finished ninth in the high jump at the NCAA Division 1 Indoor National Championships last March, which helped him earn a Second Team All-American position. The nomination was the first in Lipscomb history.
"That's the great thing about track, there are so many events and so many great athletes,” Taylor said. “Every year someone from the previous year rises up and surprises everyone with their dramatic improvement. Every year we get a freshman that makes a huge impact. Part of the exciting narrative of each season is seeing who the next breakthrough is going to be."