CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The women’s team was the overall champion and the men placed third at the Chattanooga Powerade Invitational, Friday afternoon, on the Moccasin Bend course.
"We improved in some key areas in this meet," said head coach Bill Taylor. " Our pack is coming together. The girls improved dramatically over last week in working together and moving up in the race. We still have a lot of work to do and can improve a lot. This was definitely a step in the right direction and I feel like we accomplished the goals we had for this race."
The women were led, as they so often are, by sophomore Dani Walker. The Wichita, Kan., native was runner-up in the women’s two-mile event with an 11:13s mark, averaging just over five and a half minutes per mile.
Three other Lady Bisons joined her in the top-five, with sophomore Tessa Hoefle finishing just a hair behind Walker in third at 11:14s. It was the first top-five finish of Hoefle’s career.
"Dani and Tessa continue to lead the team in the races right now," said Taylor. "The women have closed the gap a ton on them though and are working with them longer. They have done such a great job of setting the tone for the team."
Behind Hoefle were freshman Minna Fields (fourth, 11:20s) and senior Louisa Van Batavia (fifth, 11:24s).
The Lady Bisons continued their domination of the field by placing three more athletes in the top-10: freshmen Maggie Lawrence (seventh, 11:26s) and Kendra Lobley (eighth, 11:28s) were joined by senior Catherine Beals (10th, 11:32s) in the top-10 to give Lipscomb seven of the top 10 places on the women’s side.
"Minna was the top freshman today, finishing third for the team," said Taylor. "She ran terrific and has an incredibly bright future. Maggie and Kendra were right there too. I think Kendra may have broken her 3200m track PR today on a XC course. Those three freshmen are really making an impact. It's really nice too that they have great returners to follow and learn from. All three are just going to get better and better."
"In terms of times, I was happy with the marks," he continued. "Most of our women ran faster than our two-mile time trial a couple of weeks ago. It's hard to run fast when you don't have a lot of competition up front. For much of the race it was more like a team time trial for our women. I think that bodes well for what times the women will be able to run in races."
Though overall individual champion honors went to MTSU’s Lucy Kapkiai, Lipscomb would be the only squad in the meet to place more than one athlete in the top ten.
The men’s squad grinded out a hard-fought race, finishing third overall behind host Chattanooga and MTSU. Junior Isaiah Greer paced the Bisons with a 15:24s mark in the five-kilometer, shaving 14 seconds off his time from last weekend’s Belmont Opener.
Junior Geoff Musick was Lipscomb’s next-highest finisher, placing 11th with a 15:50s mark. Musick knocked nearly 40 seconds off his time from last week as well.
"Isaiah looks so strong this year," said Taylor. "He's always been a very tough guy, and is stepping up as a leader on the course. Geoff Musick had a good rebound from last week. He's going to get stronger and stronger."
Five more Bisons earned top-20 placings Friday evening. Ashton Fisher (12th, 15:51s), Tim Muller (15th, 15:59s), Ben Wright (16th, 16:04s), Ryan Gadsey (18th, 16:07s) and Mike Yang (20th, 16:12s) rounded out the scoring and the top-20 for Lipscomb.
"We have mixed feelings about the men's race," said Taylor. "It's kind of a tale of two halves. The first half of the race the men worked together, ran tough, were in great position and stuck together. It's exactly how it needs to be. Unfortunately they didn't hold it, and the second half was more of an individual by individual effort. So we saw what is possible, but we also saw that we aren't quite there yet. It's certainly progress and we sacrificed a bit in the end point total and times to start to develop the right mentality and tactics."
Two Lipscomb runners made their debuts this weekend, with Benton Reed finishing 35th in the 5K with a 17:08s run and Alex Newby’s 12:27s two-mile race netting her a 27th-place standing.
Lipscomb returns to Nashville for next weekend’s Vanderbilt Invitational, an event that will be held on the Bisons home Vaughn’s Gap course at Percy Warner Park. It will be the second of three races Lipscomb will compete in at Vaughn’s Gap, where they ran last weekend’s Belmont Opener and will face the rest of the Atlantic Sun, October 29, at the A-Sun Cross Country Championships.