TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – In the final meet of the regular season, the Lipscomb cross country squad went out on a strong note at the Crimson Classic hosted by the University of Alabama on Friday.
Both the men’s and women’s teams showed strong results, with the men finishing third out of a 23 team field and the women placing seventh out of 26 teams.
"Our men and women ran really well,” Lipscomb Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Bill Taylor said. “It was a great way to end the regular season.”
The men’s team had its top performance of the season so far, grabbing 80 points and finishing above Auburn, Alabama, and Atlantic Sun rival North Florida.
"The men had their best race of the year,” Taylor said. “They are getting better and better. I love seeing Jake and Christian go out and run with the top guys. They've been so courageous this season.”
Junior Jacob Poyner was the top finisher for the Bisons, placing 13th with a time of 24:53.73. Fellow juniors Christian Freeman and Juan Gonzalez finished right behind Poyner at 14 and 22 with marks of 24:54.88 and 25:11.02, respectively.
"Juan is getting stronger each race,” Taylor said. “He's not where he has been in the past, but he moved way up today and is on pace to be right with Jake and Christian soon.”
"Likewise, Daniel Gardner and Jared Wingerter had their best races of the season. This was the top five we've been expecting. Getting them rolling is a very good sign.
Seniors Gardner and Wingerter finished 35th and 50th, crossing the line at 25:32.02 and 25:47.07.
"We were also really pleased with Psalm, Sean Hurd, Robert Rupp and Jared Daedler. Those guys stepped up big today and are closing in on the top five,” Taylor said.
"The men beat some great teams today to finish third. Our biggest conference rival, North Florida, had a great day too. They fought hard. Our guys had to step it up to beat them, and they certainly did.”
On the women's side, several of the top Lady Bisons sat, but Lipscomb still finished with a score of 87.
"We sat our top seven women today and challenged the rest of the team to step up,” Taylor said. “We have so many talented girls and great depth. It was exciting to see them fight for each other.
"We had a team goal to beat North Florida without our top seven. North Florida is ranked second in the A-Sun. We saw that goal as a statement we could make and a good team motivator. To finish seventh overall and beat North Florida was a very successful result.”
Sophomore Katie Bianchini had the best race for the women, placing 31st with a time of 17:51.18.
"Katie Bianchini had her best cross country race of her collegiate career to lead the team today,” Taylor said. “She has been improving every week. She was a Footlocker finalist in high school, which is what she is looking like now. I'm very excited for her next race in two weeks. She earned one of the final two A-Sun roster spots today.”
Taylor says the team has a tough decision to make for the final A-Sun spot for the Lady Bisons.
"Minna and Bridgette finished close behind Katie, one place and one second apart. Minna literally caught Bridgette at the line.
Senior Minna Fields and freshman Bridget Perine placed 45th and 46th, just one second off each other’s times at 18:05.92 and 18:06.71.
"Grace Oetting and Sam Woodford ran really tough too. Grace ran a new personal record, while Sam got out fast and then held on and pushed through after rolling her ankle.
"Rounding out a top seven, who all ran either a personal record or a season best, were Hannah Munyan and Avery Franklin who performed great as well.
With the A-Sun Championships coming up at the end of the month, Taylor is proud of his team and anxious to compete in the postseason.
"We showed great pride today, and excellent fight,” Taylor said. “We are looking forward to the A-Sun Championships in two weeks, and coming back down here in a month to contest the South Region Championship."