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Bisons, Lady Bisons compete in Belmont Opener
Caitlin Anderson
Caitlin Anderson

Friday, September 04, 2009

In a Friday night opener to the 2009 Cross Country season, the Lipscomb Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams performed well to start the season at the Belmont Opener at Percy Warner Park.

The third place finish for the men’s program is the best finish at this meet since at least 2000. The women’s finish was the second best in program history for this meet (seventh in 2002, 2005 and 2006).

The men were led by freshman Tim Muller (Denver, Colo.) who covered the tough Vaughn’s Gap 5-K course in 16:05. Another freshman, Ashton Fisher (Ellsworth, Mich.) followed closely behind Muller in 16:11. Jared Carlson (Rockford, Ill.), a senior, finished third in 16:24, while another pair of freshmen, Isaiah Greer (Johnson City, Tenn.) and Jeff Musick (Nashville, Tenn.) rounded out the Lipscomb top five in 16:26 and 16:32.

Jeff Hoover (Dickson, Tenn.), a junior, was the sixth finisher for Lipscomb in 16:33, followed by junior Jonathan Williams (Knoxville, Tenn.) in 16:34, sophomore Chad Martin (Coppell, Texas) in16:34, freshman Ben Wright (Vincennes, Ind.) in 16:58, sophomore Trace Carlson (Mt. Morris, Ill.) in 16:58, freshman Mike Yang (Oceanside, N.Y.) in 17:10, sophomore Benton Reed (Scottsboro, Ala.) in 17:12, senior Andrew Shankles (Knoxville, Tenn.) in 17:16, sophomore Cormac Carolan (Peachtree City, Ga.) in 17:19, sophomore Aaron Todd (Bedford, Ind.) in 17:33 and senior Paul Wright (Vincennes, Ind.) in 18:02.

Ryan Chastain, the programs top guy and returning All-A-Sun runner, didn’t race this meet, making the record finish that much more impressive. Chastain looks to be back in action in two weeks at the Vanderbilt Invite.

“The guys were very impressive today!” said head Coach Bill Taylor. “Obviously the freshmen really stepped up with four in our top five, but the whole team did a great job.

“For the first mile-and-a-half the men were such an amazing pack. They just need to carry that through longer. We are a very young team. Great things are coming for this program, and today was just a taste.”

Middle Tennessee State won the men’s race with 45 points, Belmont was second with 57 points, Lipscomb was third with 78 points. There were seven men’s teams in the race.

The women were led by junior captain Caitlin Anderson (Franklin, Tenn.). Anderson posted a 4-K time of 15:28 for the difficult Vaughn’s Gap course, a 15-second improvement over last year, with reports that this year’s course was a bit longer.

Anderson was followed closely by a trio of Lipscomb women, freshman Amanda Twigg (Cumberland, Md.) in 15:33, junior Jenny Randolph (Knoxville, Tenn.) in 15:42 (a 36-second improvement over last year), and freshman Shelby Marvel (Ashland City, Tenn.) in 15:42.

Rounding out the top five for Lipscomb was sophomore Louisa Van Batavia (Burns, Ore.) in 16:12, who improved her time in this race by 44 seconds over last year.

Priya Pappu, a freshman from Santa Clara, Calif., finished as the sixth runner for Lipscomb in 16:32, while senior Shannon Shoemake (Nashville, Tenn.) rounded out the top seven in 16:46. Right behind Shoemake, junior Valerie Winkler (Wheeling, Ill.) finished in 16:50, while junior Laura Stewart (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) finished in 18:03.

Ashley Lehman, a sophomore from Harrisonburg, Va., didn’t race this meet. She was Lipscomb’s top finisher here last year. She should be back racing in two weeks at the Vanderbilt Invite.

“I was very happy with the women’s effort today,” said Taylor. “The top four really worked together for quite a while and Louisa fought hard. Three of our top five women in this race have been quite sick in the last week, so I really think they showed toughness here.

“We had a tough road in this meet though. SEC powers Vanderbilt, Alabama and Tennessee, A-Sun favorite Belmont, and perennially strong teams like UAB and Middle Tennessee were going to make it difficult on us. We will be at their level soon but we honestly aren’t quite there yet.”

Taylor was impressed with the dramatic improvements from most of his returning runners.

“When you drop 30-50 seconds at the same race a year later, it shows the progress that is being made,” said Taylor. “The foundation is being built here for big success. There is a lot of room for improvement this season and I expect we will see our performance level and teamwork rise throughout. I’m very excited for the future!”

Vanderbilt won the women’s race with 42 points, followed by Alabama with 57 points and UAB with 109 points.

The next race for Lipscomb will be in two weeks at the Vanderbilt Invite on Sept. 19. Hosted on the same Vaughn’s Gap course, the women will run the more traditional 5-K distance and the men will move up to the full college 8-K distance.