NASHVILLE – For the first time this season the Lipscomb cross country squad split up between two meets over the weekend, and it yielded top notch results as the Bisons performed well at both the Texas A&M Invite and the Austin Peay Invite on Saturday.
"The women took a big step forward today,” Lipscomb Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Bill Taylor said. “I'm really proud of them in so many ways. We really had an uncharacteristically bad meet last weekend.
"We just moved forward and did what we needed to do today. It shows they are tough and getting mentally strong the way they bounced back so well this weekend. That isn't easy to do.”
In College Station, the Lady Bisons earned a third place finish with 80 total points, ahead of Southeastern Conference programs Kentucky, host Texas A&M, and LSU, and just behind Rice and Baylor.
"More than that, we've been working on some race tactics and defining our style of racing,” Taylor said. “These are things that will pay off down the road, both this season and in future seasons.
"That was really the goal today for the women. It's been our main focus. They stepped up to a new level and it was one of the best team races I have seen from us in a while.”
Seniors Barbara Lee Ball and Sally Larson took the top spots for Lipscomb, finishing back-to-back in 11th and 12th with times of 21:16.0 and 21:16.3 in the 6k, respectively. Sophomore Brooke Kingma was not far behind in 16th at 21:32.3.
"A lot of girls ran really well,” Taylor said. “Barbara Lee, Sally and Brooke worked really well together. Kacey Kemper had put together excellent races back-to-back. Other girls are stepping up and closing the gaps. I think each week we will see more girls moving up. It's very exciting.”
Junior Kacey Kemper (21:40.4), sophomore Bridgette Doucet (21:42.3), and junior Avery Franklin (21:49.8) all took spots in the top-30 at 21, 23, and 30. Sophomore Grace Oetting rounded out the Lady Bisons’ top-seven spots at 33rd with a time of 21:54.6
"Even more impressive is that this was a 6k race,” Taylor said. “For many of our girls it was the first 6k they've ever run. The way they raced didn't look any different than a 5k, which is exactly how it is supposed to be.
"We can build on this performance and really set up the end of this season. Today was a very good sign of what can be.”
On the men’s side, the Bisons finished seventh with 185 total points as they raced an 8k.
"The men ran really well early,” Taylor said. “They are a young team and are learning. They just need to change their perception and focus in the middle, and they will improve massively.”
Sophomore Brent Leber took the top spot for the men, placing 20th with a time of 25:05.2.
"Brent Leber again led the men,” Taylor said. “We really need a couple guys to step up and run with him. That would make a world of difference in our team result. I did see a lot of the guys working together, which is a good sign.
Sophomore Ryan Speer (25:56.8), and freshmen Jonathan Schwind (25:57.3) and Owen Glogovsky (25:57.9) placed consecutively in 49th, 50th, and 51st, respectively.
"I think the men's team has so much room for improvement that it is really exciting,” Taylor said. “If they keep working to improve, anything is possible."
At Austin Peay, a pair of sophomore Lady Bisons stepped up, but due to technical difficulties the results have not yet been posted.
"Clare Losito had a strong day for the women, and Madison Colley took a big step forward,” Taylor said. “More signs that the whole women's team is getting stronger.
"Unfortunately results for the men and women at Austin Peay are not available yet, so we will have to wait to fully assess."
Check back here for the updated Austin Peay results once those have been made available.