NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When it was over, the Lady Bisons were champions.
The Lipscomb women’s cross country team won the 2011 Atlantic Sun Cross Country Championships, Saturday morning, on their home Vaughn’s Gap course at Percy Warner Park. The championship is the first for Lipscomb cross country in the Division I era.
“We’ve had the best four weeks of practice I’ve ever seen,” said head coach Bill Taylor. “I gave each of them a plan to be successful and they followed it. I’m so proud of these girls.”
The Lady Bisons compiled a team score of 53 points, defeating defending champion North Florida by 16 points. Lipscomb was the only school to place six runners in the top 20 finishers.
The Lady Bisons were led by two first-team All-Conference finishers in sophomore Tessa Hoefle and senior Ashley Lehman. Hoefle was the Lady Bisons top finisher, coming in fifth overall in 17:58.30s. Lehman, in her final A-Sun championship race, set a personal-best with a 17:58.40s mark.
Hoefle and Lehman are the first set of Lipscomb teammates to ever be named to the All-Conference first team.
Freshman Minna Fields finished ninth in her first A-Sun championship race, earning second-team All-Conference honors and All-Freshman team accolades with a personal-best 18:04.50s run.
Sophomore Missy Dowd (18:14.60s) and freshman Maggie Lawrence (18:16.60s) finished 16th and 17th, respectively, with both athletes earning personal bests. Lawrence joined Fields on the All-Freshman team.
Lawrence and Fields are the second consecutive set of Lipscomb freshmen to earn All-Freshman team honors. Dani Walker and Alex Newby were All-Freshman in 2010, where Walker was also named Freshman of the Year.
While those five scores contributed to the Lipscomb aggregate, senior Catherine Beals (18:35.80s) and sophomore Emily Longden (18:41.10s) finished 20th and 21st, taking important points from North Florida and Belmont.
Following his squad’s championship run, Taylor was awarded the A-Sun women’s coach of the year award, the first of his Lipscomb career and the first for a Lipscomb cross country coach.
USC Upstate’s Jemeli Sang won A-Sun Female Runner of the Year, finishing the 5K in 17:20.90s. Belmont’s Maria Elbon earned Freshman of the Year honors.
Off this historic run, Lipscomb will celebrate and then turn their attention to the NCAA South Regional, which takes place Saturday, Nov. 12 at the Harry Pritchett Course in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
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