Monday, July 29, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Headlined by three meets in Nashville and two new meets to help focus on at-large points, Bill Taylor, director of cross country and track and field, has announced the 2013 men’s and women’s cross country schedule.
Taylor believes the schedule gives the Lady Bisons, two-time defending Atlantic Sun Conference Champions, the best chance to score at-large points for the national meet while giving the rising men’s program sound competition.
“The last few years we’ve been very intentional about putting together a cross country schedule that gives our women’s team the best opportunity to score at-large points for nationals,” Taylor said. “At the end of the season, the top two teams in each region automatically qualify for nationals. Then, a number of at-large teams are selected based on placing at regionals and combined with how many national qualifiers you beat during the season.”
The season kicks-off with back-to-back meets in the “Music City” on Lipscomb’s home course. The Purple and Gold will run in the Belmont Opener on Aug. 30 and the stampede will continue on Sept. 14 in the Vanderbilt Invite.
“Belmont and Vanderbilt are great home meets for us,” Taylor said. “It’s great to be able to open our season here. This year those meets are even more valuable as they give us a chance to preview our own course before hosting the A-Sun Championships in November. This will be valuable prep for our teams.”
In the first roadtrip of the season, Lipscomb crosses the country to Spokane, Wash., for the Eric Anderson Invite on Sept. 21.
“Spokane is a meet that is before the at-large meets begin,” Taylor said. “It will be a low-key meet, however there will be some great D2 teams there preparing for their national championship on that course.
“Although it is a low-key meet, the competition will be great. It is an opportunity to go out West, race a great course, bond as a team and prepare for the rest of the season. I am excited to take the teams out here.”
Beginning the period where at-large points are scored, Lipscomb travels to two new meets, beginning with the Notre Dame Invite on Oct. 4.
“Notre Dame is a new meet for us,” Taylor said. “Basically I researched all the meets in the nation for this weekend and determined that Notre Dame had the largest number of nationally-ranked and national qualifying teams.
“It is the first opportunity to score at-large points. So we are going there to face the best competition in the nation for that weekend and hopefully come back with at-large points at the end of the season.”
Two weeks later the Bisons and Lady Bisons travel to Terre Haute, Ind., for a preview of the National Championship course on Oct. 19.
“Pre-Nationals is also a new meet for us,” Taylor said. “With the return of the national championships in Terre Haute, we felt previewing the course would be valuable.
“This meet is one of the two best meets on that weekend for at-large points. It should serve several purposes for us, both this year and beyond.”
Championship season gets underway on Nov. 2, beginning with the A-Sun Championships, hosted by Lipscomb.
“We are so excited to host the A-Sun Championships this year,” Taylor said. “We have a terrific course, which has hosted previous A-Sun Championships, as well as the SEC Championships last year.
“Our women will go after their third consecutive title while the men will chase their first ever. It will be great to sleep in our own beds, race where we train all the time and have some hometown spectators get the chance to see us go after it.”
The NCAA I South Regional Championships take place Nov. 15 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
“The South Region Championships are a major focus this year,” Taylor said. “The women ran up front last year and got valuable experience. Last year we didn’t care how we finished, we wanted to go after it and see what it feels like to run in the front pack. At the halfway point we were in second and faded to a seventh place finish.
“Last year we took a skeleton crew of men, four freshmen and one sophomore, the minimum needed to score. They ran awesome, given their experience and our expectations. One faltered, which really moved our team score back, but that was expected for a freshman running in a regional championship and 10K for the first time.”
With the experience gained and returning talent, Taylor thinks the women’s squad will only improve on last season’s performance.
“With our top eight women returning, including all seven who ran at last year’s regional championship, plus the best recruiting class in Lipscomb history, we feel we are ready to compete in the top three,” Taylor said. “It is a tough task as the top four teams in our region are nationally ranked.
“The focus is good though, and with our progress during track and how hungry these girls are, I expect we will be ready to step up.”
Likewise on the men’s side, Taylor looks from improvements seen last season and experienced leadership for a good showing at regionals.
“Ryan Gadsey ran with the front pack for two-thirds of the race and looked awesome,” Taylor said. “With the dramatic improvement we saw in track, along with the incoming freshmen and returning three redshirt seniors, we feel very good about our potential at regionals.”
The NCAA I Championships take place the following weekend, returning to Terre Haute on Nov. 23.
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