TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The beginning to outdoor season did not go exactly as planned for the Lipscomb track and field squad as inclement weather and travel problems both set in, but the Bisons still managed to turn in a successful performance at the Alabama Relays.
“We had a long day on Friday,” said assistant coach Benton Reed. “We had some bus issues and the three-and-a-half hour trip actually ended up being 10 hours. Then, once we arrived, Alabama canceled the Friday events due to weather.
“Between the men and women, we had 16 5k runners who didn't get to run. The 400 hurdles and sprint medley relay also got cut. The team did a great job handling the whole day. The coaches were proud of the team for handling the situation, and their strong desires to race.”
With the large number of runners who did not get to compete because of the cancelled events, the Purple and Gold felt some disappointment.
"It's really unfortunate that the 5000's were cancelled,” Lipscomb Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Bill Taylor said. “We plan a season out very carefully, when and where athletes compete in specific events. We plan out which meets we have to have a fast time by in order to qualify for the biggest meets later in the season.
“So losing the 5000m races this weekend meant almost a third of our entered athletes couldn't compete, and it could have ramifications on the rest of the season. We will have to go back and evaluate our entries and options for the rest of the season.”
However, Taylor believes the team will take this setback in stride and be ready to perform at the next pair of meets.
"On the other side, that's life, and I know we will adapt successfully,” Taylor said. “Those athletes will be more rested and trained for their first outdoor 5000m. I think they will be even hungrier than they already were to go race too."
Senior Madi Talbert earned a big win for the Bisons in the 3000m steeplechase. She finished with a school outdoor senior record time of 10:21.53. Fellow senior Kate Bucknam took third with a 10:55.09 mark.
“Madi really shined in the women's 3k steeple,” Reed said. “She led from the gun, and she ran a time that has always qualified for the first round of nationals. Kate Bucknam also finished in a solid 3rd place.”
Junior Wayne Newman kicked off his outdoor campaign with a pair of high finishes. In the 400m, Newman finished third overall with a time of 53.15 seconds. He also finished sixth in the 110m hurdles with a mark of 14.28 seconds.
“Wayne had a solid weekend,” assistant coach Marcus Evans said. “We came into the weekend with a plan to get some solid times. Wayne's 400m hurdle time was a great start given it was faster than he ran all last season. He was disappointed with his 14.28 in the 110m Hurdles, but it was a good start to a season where we are looking to establish Wayne as a top hurdler in the nation.”
Sophomore Jacob Poyner finished fifth out of 54 runners in the men’s 1500m with a 3:52.90 mark. Senior Max McBride turned in a 4:03.95 performance to place 21st in his first outdoor race in three years.
“Saturday had some great performances,” Reed said. “The 1500 athletes ran well. Jake ran smart and great position throughout. Max hasn't raced track in three years, and he showed up today. He was in a tactical race, so the time doesn't do justice to his effort. We are extremely proud of him.”
Freshman Sam Woodford finished sixth in the 800m with a time of 2:13.56, followed by sophomore Kacey Kemper in 14th with a 2:15.75 time. Freshman Ryan Speer finished 21st on the men’s side with a 1:56.03 mark.
“Sam Woodford won her heat in the 800,” Reed said. “We are looking forward to getting her in more competitive races as the season goes on.”
Junior Devon Wade placed second in the pole vault, turning in a 4.45m leap.
“Devon had a personal record performance in the pole vault at 4.45,” Evans said. “He is getting better every time he jumps. The multi events have helped him to tune in and make the necessary adjustments in competition.”
With the Purple and Gold in action over each the next five weekends, Evans and the rest of the staff are excited to see what the team has in store for the outdoor season.
“We are very excited to go back to training on campus and make some tweaks at practice sessions,” Evans said. “We are competing with a lot of heart for coming off our spring break. Vanderbilt and Raleigh will tell us a lot about how good this team can be.”