Oct. 8, 2007
The Lipscomb men's and women's cross country teams competed in the Memphis Twilight meet Saturday night. While most cross country races are contested in daylight hours, more than 40 college teams toed the line at the Mike Rose Complex in Memphis to compete at night under the lights.
"I had never heard of a collegiate cross country race at night, so when I found this meet I felt we had to get that experience." said Lipscomb head coach Bill Taylor. "As a track athlete, I always loved racing under the lights at night."
The Lady Bison's ran very well under the lights, finishing 7th out of 41 full college teams. The women were led again by Carolyn Latham who finished the 5-K course in 18:55, finishing 24th out of 329 competitors. Shannon Shoemake (19:31), Jenny Randolph (19:34), Caitlin Anderson (19:37) and Erin Pyles (19:55) rounded out the top five. Valerie Winkler (20:55) and Paloma Floden (21:15) also ran well, while Paige Griffin (21:35) did well her first race of the season after two months of injury rehab.
"The conditions were very tough," said Taylor. "We expected a nice cool night race, but the temperatures were still in the 80s during the night races and the humidity was very thick. The conditions took a toll on us, but the women really competed hard. It was their best effort and the best team race of the year."
One Lady Bisons runner was affected by the heat.
" I feel bad for Julie Alley. She had the race of her life going before passing out with only 400 meters to go. She was right there with our top girls, but the heat got to her. Still, she is an inspiration for our team and now knows she can run up there. Carolyn also took a major step forward. She really put it all on the line. Everyone really stepped it up for us."
The course was crowded as well with 47 teams entered. Instead of providing open lanes the size of the field made the race resemble bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic.
"The size of the race was also difficult," Taylor said. "Usually a big race like this helps you run faster. There are always people around you, so there is always someone to pull you forward or to pass. But this course is not conducive for a huge race. Last year they had 24 teams. This year 47 college teams entered.
" There are too many sharp corners and the lanes are too narrow for that many teams. Most of the girls got crunched up on the corners and found themselves totally stopped during the first loop or so. But, it's good to experience tough conditions and fight through them. I am extremely proud of the women's team. They matured dramatically this weekend. It was the biggest step forward of the season for us."
The Lady Bison's compete again next weekend in the Evansville Invite in Evansville, Ind. The men's 8-K starts at 11 a.m. at the Evansville XC Course. The women's race follows.
Two weeks later Lipscomb will host the A-Sun Cross Country Championships at Vaughn's Gap in Percy Warner Park.