MACON, Ga. – The Lipscomb women’s cross country squad was predicted to finish where they have the last two years, in first place, by the league’s coaches as announced by the Atlantic Sun Conference on Thursday.
Senior Dani Walker claimed the two individual awards as the Preseason Runner of the Year as voted by the coaches and the Fan Voted Runner of the Year.
The Lady Bisons garnered all 100 points possible and all 10 first place votes as the favorite. North Florida was picked second with Jacksonville third.
The women’s team is really good,” Bill Taylor, director of cross country and track and field, said. “They are really really good. That is no secret. The goal has been to build a national power, and that is what is happening.”
Part of being such a good squad comes from returning the top seven performers from a year ago.
“Then we added an amazing recruiting class,” Taylor added. “So far in the first two weeks of workouts I am already seeing things that have never been done before in our program’s history. We are already far better today than we have ever been at any point of any season before.”
Walker, who claimed Freshman of the Year honors in 2010, finished third overall at the conference meet a year ago.
“Dani is the top returning A-Sun cross country runner and she has led our team for the past three years,” Taylor said. “It is a well-deserved honor for her. Dani will be right up there again this year.
“As the only all-region runner in Lipscomb history, she also brings that successful big race experience that a team on the verge of nationals needs. She has been the backbone of our team on the course. She is the natural choice for this honor and it is exciting that she will have company from her teammates this year.”
As the Purple and Gold look for a third-straight A-Sun title, the bigger aspirations remain on the NCAA National meet. Taylor has altered his training plans with that goal in mind.
“We started the quality workouts two weeks later this year than we’ve ever done before, since the bigger goal is nationals,” Taylor said. “The women are so focused and we have matured in confidence and purpose.”
With Walker chosen as the runner of the year, Taylor also points out that she will not be alone in the front.
“This year’s team has six or seven women who could be our number one any given race,” Taylor said. “We are seeing some amazing things in practice this year already and I think this is very good for Dani. It takes pressure off and adds the fun of a legit team that can do anything.
“It is going to be a special year.”