NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Freshman Madi Talbert is poised to make history for the Lipscomb track and field team. Talbert will become the first athlete from Lipscomb to compete at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Thursday in Eugene, Ore. The race is scheduled for 7:35 p.m.
Talbert qualified for the 3000-meter steeplechase after finishing in the top 12 of the preliminary round held two weeks ago in Greensboro, N.C.
Entering with the 42nd ranked time in a field for 48 competitors, Talbert beat the odds to qualify.
“She had nothing to lose going into the preliminary round,” Bill Taylor, director of cross country and track and field, said. “Our approach as a freshman was this is a great opportunity. Let’s go run a good race and as many good laps as we can.
“I knew she had a chance to qualify but you don’t really expect somebody to drop 20 seconds and improve from 42nd to 12th in one race.”
Talbert will be taking the same attitude into the national round of having nothing to lose.
“It gives us the same freedom if not more freedom going into nationals,” Taylor said. “It is the same approach but now she gets to throw in good laps at the national finals. Every step that she takes racing just helps her build the future.”
At the preliminary round, Talbert crushed the previous school record posting a time of 10:11.21. She finished fourth in her heat and 12th overall. Running the middle heat, Talbert had to wait out the final heat race and all of the men’s steeplechase to find out she was moving on for sure.
“They waited forever to post the official results,” Taylor said. “They ran all the men’s races and posted those before posting the women’s. We pretty much knew she was going to make it by then, but hearing it through the loudspeaker that she was going to Eugene was pretty cool.”
Having nearly two weeks between races, Talbert has utilized the same training partner she had going into the preliminary round. Tessa Hoefle, who nearly qualified for the preliminary round, stayed in Nashville to train with Talbert as she prepared for the national round.
“Tessa did stick around this week to train, so that has been great,” Taylor said. “In Eugene it will be me and my assistant, Jenny Randolph. We’ll have a couple people there to take care of her. Madi is calm about everything so it really won’t faze her.”
With two semifinal races taking place on Thursday, the top five finishers in each heat automatically advance to the final round along with the next two fastest times. Talbert runs in the second heat.
Should Talbert qualify, Saturday’s race can be seen on ESPNU at 5:57 p.m.
With Talbert earning the Purple and Gold’s first bid into the national round, Taylor is excited about what is in store for years to come.
“It is happening here,” Taylor said. “It was inevitable. It gets the process that much further along. We have the ability to make it to nationals and Madi shows that it is possible.”