NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb cross country squads started the year strong Friday at the Belmont Opener. The meet was held at the location of the 2013 Atlantic Sun Championships in Percy Warner Park.
“This was a very good opener for us,” Bill Taylor, director of cross country and track and field, said. “It was also a rough day. The heat index for the women’s race was 103 degrees and about 100 degrees for the men. It was the hottest day of the entire summer.
“You really couldn’t ask for worse conditions, yet our women and men rallied and ran hard.”
In a double-dual format, the Lipscomb women beat Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee State with perfect scores of 15, sweeping the top seven positions.
The men won both of their duals as well, scoring 16 points against MTSU’s 45 points and 20 points compared to Western Kentucky’s 43 points.
“I’ve never really seen the double-dual scoring before, so I scored the meet out traditionally, as a full meet,” Taylor said. “With regular scoring our women and men both won the entire meet. The women scored 25 points beating Vanderbilt (43), Kentucky (68) and Belmont (121).
“On the men’s side we scored 44 points. Tennessee came in with 46 points and Kentucky had 70 points. Both teams took a big step forward today.”
Taylor was happy with the start of the race but with the conditions, he thought the race could have been run a little better.
“We packed up well early, Taylor said. “We probably went out too fast for the heat conditions, passing the mile in 5:28. It caught up to use and it was a rough finish but the girls fought hard and held on.”
Taylor was impressed after the team battled sickness in the past week.
“In our last quality workout, only two of our top six women were able to train,” Taylor said. "Still not feeling well, after a week of sickness, it was impressive to see them run like they did in hot conditions."
Taking four of the top seven places and the top four collegiate places, the Lady Bisons got the year started on the right foot. Freshman Sally Larson finished in second place in 17:54.10 and was followed by junior Tessa Hoefle crossing the finish line in 17:58.41.
“Sally led the way for us today,” Taylor said. “She is so strong and is going to be an amazing collegiate runner. She ran the fastest time any Lipscomb woman has ever run on our course and she is a freshman who just ran her first ever collegiate race.
“Right with her, Tessa Hoefle had her best-ever day on our course. Those two really led the way for our team and stuck together until the final 150 meters.”
In fifth place freshman Katie Bianchini finished the 5-K in 18:14.04. Sophomore Madelin Talbert rounded out the top seven with a time of 18:24.13.
“Katie and track All-American Madi did a great job of holding position,” Taylor said. “The heat really hit both of them hard, but they fought and gave us a strong 1-4 run.”
The men ran a strong race. Taylor called the day historic in terms of finish and performance.
“This was the best race in school history,” Taylor said. “The best finish, best overall performance, best packing and best fight I’ve seen here.
“Senior Isaiah Greer really set the tone today, putting our pack in the right position. Freshmen, Juan Gonzalez and Christian Freeman are the real deal. I don’t think the 8-K is going to phase them when they move up to that distance in two weeks.
Gonzalez and Freeman led the Bisons with a seventh and eighth place finish, respectively. Gonzalez finished in 16:00.85 while Freeman crossed the line at 16:01.51.
Sophomore Grant Stromberg finished tenth and was followed by senior Isaiah Greer at 16:04.25 and 16:06.30, respectively.
“Grant charged through the field to finish in our top three,” Taylor said. “He is going to be so good.
“I was also proud of Daniel Gardner. He ran great early, faded for just a bit and then rallied hard. He looked terrific in the final 1-K.”
For being the first meet, Taylor was happy with the results and learning where to improve.
“All-in-all, this was just a start,” Taylor said. “The meet doesn’t really count for much other than pride. The big thing from this is we have a snapshot of where we are and where we need to go.
“This was a great start, however there is so much more we can do to get tons better.”
Lipscomb is off next weekend but is back in action at Percy Warner Park on Sept. 14 at the Vanderbilt Invite.