Saturday was a busy day for the Lipscomb cross country teams, with three factions of the squad participating in different meets throughout the day.
The women’s squad took 10 athletes to the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., where they placed 10th out of 32 squads at the prestigious event, finishing ahead of schools such as Fresno State, Cal and Lipscomb sister school, Pepperdine. Host Stanford dominated the event, placing five athletes in the top-10 for the victory.
“Our women got a taste of a big, fast race and it didn’t start well,” said head coach Bill Taylor. “At the 200m mark, I think our top runner was in 150th. All the girls were just fighting for position; they looked pretty freaked out. I was surprised we finished tenth; though it’s not what we wanted, I we got thrashed worse than that.”
The Lady Bisons were led by sophomore Tessa Hoefle, who finished 41st out of 278 runners with a 21:46s six-kilometer run. Senior Ashley Lehman was just behind Hoefle, in 43rd with a 21:50s mark.
“Tessa and Ashley did a good job of recovering and working their way up in the field,” Taylor said. “That’s hard to do in a big race on a narrow course. Most of our other girls had a pretty tough time.”
Freshman Minna Fields (75th, 22:23s) and sophomore Missy Dowd (95th, 22:36s) also finished in the top-100 for Lipscomb. Senior Catherine Beals rounded out the scoring for the Lady Bisons, finishing 112th with a 22:49s run.
“It’s another learning experience,” Taylor said. “I’m okay with that, but at some point we have to quit having learning experiences and race to our ability. I’m not upset (with the result), but I am disappointed because I know what we’re capable of. We are past the halfway point of the season now, and right now it looks like we’re a long way from contending for a conference title. The girls need to figure some things out quick.”
The men’s squad was up the coast in Spokane, Wash., for the Erik Andersen Invitational. The Bisons finished ninth out of 25 squads in the field. Eight Lipscomb athletes were in attendance on an unseasonably warm day in the upper northwest; temperatures reached a record-breaking 91 degrees during the meet.
Junior Isaiah Greer was the lead Bison in the eight-kilometer race, coming in 12th with a 25:03.20s run. Greer has led Lipscomb in all four races he’s run in 2011.
“Isaiah continues to improve his times and lead the team,” said coach Luke Syverson. “He almost cracked the top-10 in a big race and competed well.”
Junior Ben Wright had a superb afternoon, finishing 45th following his 25:52.30s run. That mark lowered his personal best by over a minute. Junior Geoff Musick was 61st with a 26:03.80s mark.
“Ben Wright went from running in the 27 (minute) range to the 25,” Syverson said. “This race was a major breakthrough for him.”
Freshman Ryan Gadsey (26:18.20s, 80th) and junior Ashton Fisher (26:24.00s, 85th) rounded out the scoring for the Bisons.
“Ryan Gadsey ran a smarter race and was rewarded with a personal-best also,” Syverson said. “However, cross country is a team sport and we’re still not where we want to be as a team. The guys know what they need to fix to be successful; unfortunately, we didn’t accomplish that today.”
The remaining Lipscomb runners competed at the Chattanooga Cross Country Festival on the Chickamauga Dam course. Lipscomb’s men’s and women’s teams each picked up the win in smaller fields (eight women’s squads, six men’s).
Sophomore Alex Newby was the overall women’s victor, finishing the five-kilometer race in 24:02.74s. She finished nearly half a minute better than the next closest competitor.
Lipscomb swept the top-10 in the women’s event, led by Newby, freshman Kaitlyn Llewellyn (second, 24:31.81s) and sophomore Alyssa Miller (third, 24:33.90s). The closest competitor from a school other than Lipscomb finished more than a minute behind each of the Lady Bisons top five runners.
The Lady Bisons scoring was rounded out by sophomore Lacey Printz (fourth, 24:44.88s) and freshman Melissa Matis (fifth, 24:48.75s).
Freshman Tate Honaker was the first collegiate runner across the line with a 28:34.74s run; he was second overall (behind Lipscomb assistant coach Josh Foss, who ran the race as an individual). Just behind Honaker was classmate Tyler Glenn, at third overall with a 29:04.67s mark.
Wrapping up the day for Lipscomb were freshmen Ben Ashley (sixth, 29:57.59s) and Daniel Coleman (seventh, 29:59.61s) and sophomore Phillip Brasher (eighth, 30:18.24s).
"Very proud of everyone at Chattanooga," Taylor said. "To win both races, and have the women go 1-10, is amazing. Alex is recovering really well and gets better every week. Hopefully, she bridges the gap to our top girls, because we could use her help up front at conference."
The squads will be back in action next weekend, heading north for the Louisville Classic at Tom Sawyer Park. The meet is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.
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