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Thursday, August 23, 2012
MACON, Ga.-The Lipscomb Lady Bisons cross country team received all 10 first place votes in the 2012 Atlantic Sun Conference preseason poll.
Coach Bill Taylor sees no reasons why his team can’t repeat last year’s performance which garnered the Lady Bisons first ever A-Sun Championship in cross country.
"It's normal for the defending champion to top the next season's polls,” Taylor said. “Despite the ranking, we have our work cut out for us.
“Every year is tough and this year is no different. In some ways it might be even tougher. Though we finally got the feeling of winning and the confidence, repeating is not an easy thing to accomplish. We have the target and this season will be a test of our maturity and commitment to excellence.”
Four of the top five finishers on the team return led by Tessa Hoefle and Minna Fields who were both All-A-Sun selections last season along with the return of Dani Walker, the 2010 A-Sun Freshman of the Year. She is fully recovered from a foot injury that kept her out of the championship in 2011. Ashley Lehman, a top-five finisher, does not return.
"That being said, we won the A-Sun last year without Dani Walker, who has been our number one,” Taylor said. “Kendra Lobley developed into an incredible distance runner in the spring, and wasn't in the mix at A-Sun last year either. Alex Newby was our number two runner two years ago, and was working her way back from injury last year. She broke 10-minutes in the 3-K this past track season and could be back up where she was two years ago when she earned all-A-Sun honors.
“We return All-A-Sun runners in Tessa Hoefle, the top finisher last year, and Minna Fields, while Missy Dowd and Maggie Lawrence finished just out of honors last year. Emily Longden and Katie Bunker also return from last year’s conference squad. So we have a lot of proven experience.”
It will be tough for newcomers to make a mark this season, but Taylor likes what he is seeing.
"At the same time, we have two freshmen and a transfer that are impressing in practice already,” Taylor said. “Freshmen Madelin Talbert and Hannah Munyan look strong, as has sophomore transfer Kayla Droessler.
“There are also three sophomores; Kaitlyn Llewellyn, Renee Menzie and Kellie Foley, along with senior Amanda Twigg, that could impact the team in a very positive way this season.”
North Florida, winner of the 2010 team title, received all 10 second place votes.
“North Florida is very good and will be right there with us,” Taylor said. “Jacksonville has serious talent up front. Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast keep improving, and I think Northern Kentucky is going to be really good too.”
The conference championship will be held at Florida Gulf Coast University on Saturday, Oct. 27.