“We really had an amazing season from the first indoor meet in January all the way through the Outdoor Regional Championships,” said head coach Bill Taylor. “Both the men and women pushed this program up several levels. Many school records were set, gigantic PR’s were crushed nearly every meet. In fact, having one or more athletes drop 15, 20, 30 or more seconds became pretty much the norm. That is the sign of a program on the rise and it means we are all doing the things we need to do.
“The men’s and women’s teams had the best Atlantic Sun Conference Championships in Lipscomb school history. We had more All Atlantic-Sun award winners than ever before and qualified six to the Regional Championships. “
The Lady Bisons honored by their teammates for their performances and work in track and field are:
Most Improved Award – Louisa Van Batavia, a freshman from Burns, Ore., was voted Most Improved for 2009. Taylor stressed that Louisa had “a terrific track season, setting huge PR’s in the 1500m and 3000m”. He added that she “especially stepped up in the first half of the outdoor season, setting several gigantic PR’s in those events”.
“Louisa was a great inspiration for our women’s team,” saidTaylor. “She came into last Cross Country season behind due to a severe ankle injury during her senior track season and improved throughout, making the A-Sun squad at the end of the season. Then she improved way more dramatically this track season. We are all very proud of the way she has worked to improve and the best is yet to come for Louisa.”
Fightin’ Bison Award – Jenny Randolph, a sophomore from Knoxville, Tenn., was voted the Fightin’ Bison for the person who demonstrates the most guts, mental toughness and physical toughness.
Jenny ran some gigantic PR’s this past indoor and outdoor season, shocking the team by running 5:12 in the mile at the TSU Indoor meet, a 22-second PR over her best 1600m time. Taylor pointed out that Jenny “fought through shin pain and other adversity and continued to put up great marks and show her toughness”.
She set PR’s in the 1500m, mile and 3000m, and though she was training for the 1500m, she set a 33 second 5000m PR at Birmingham in her only attempt at that event this year. She is also a team captain and a spiritual leader on the team.
“Nobody doubts Jenny’s toughness,” said Taylor. “She sets the tone for the team and she competes with all she has no matter how she feels. She is positive and motivating both in word and action. Jenny has the teams respect and I know they strive to fight harder because of her.”
For the Team Award – Caitlin Anderson, a sophomore from Franklin, Tenn., was voted the “For the Team” award. It is presented to the person who is the best teammate and the person who is most positive, motivating and caring. Taylor said that “as a team captain who cares for her teammates and the progress of the program, Caitlin was always ready to race and help her teammates in any way”.
“Caitlin developed greatly as a leader throughout this year,” added Taylor. “She has a great heart for her teammates and I know she wants to see this program rise to the highest levels. Like her fellow captain Jenny, Caitlin is also a spiritual leader and best of all, a leader by example. Her heart for the team and leadership will be key to our continued improvement and success.”
Heart of Gold Award – Ashley Lehman, a freshman from Harrisonburg, Va., received the “Heart of Gold Award”. It is presented to the athlete who demonstrates the highest character, who doesn’t compromise and who does the right thing even when nobody is looking. Though Ashley didn’t compete this season due to injury, she supported her teammates in person and in spirit at every opportunity.
“Ashley’s just such a genuinely nice person and her heart for others comes across loudly,” said Taylor. “She is going to be a spiritual leader on our team for years to come and she is going to do some amazing things as an athlete too! The team really responds positively to Ashley’s warmth and she helped the team succeed, even when she couldn’t be out there doing it.”
Total Commitment Award – Jenny Randolph was also voted the Total Commitment Award which is given to the person “that did it right, did it all and did all the little things”.
“Jenny is known for her hard work ethic, her attention to detail and her true total commitment,” said Taylor. “She does everything I ask her to do in her desire to be the best she can possibly be.
“Her gigantic PR’s this season were partly a result of that. The best is ahead of her though, and her character to strive to be the best she can will pay off even more. Better yet, she leads the whole team to be the best they can be. As that continues our improvement and success will be accelerated even more.”
Freshman of the Year Award – Kristin Ratzlaff from Spring Hill, Kan., Kristin earned All-Atlantic Sun Conference honors in the javelin and became only the second woman in Lipscomb history to qualify for the NCAA I Mideast Regional Championships.
“Kristin is a very talented thrower who has not even come close to what she is capable of,” said Taylor. “She is an excellent athlete. As her technique improves she will make huge gains in performance. Kristin also threw the shot and weight throw during the indoor season, and the discus, shot and some hammer during the outdoor season, looking for any way to help the team in the throws.”
Athlete of the Year Award – Catherine Beals, a freshman from Glasgow, Ky., claimed this award. Catherine started making big improvements about mid-season and just kept getting better. She set big PR’s in the 1500m, 3000m and 5000m, then tried out the 3000m Steeplechase.
At the conference championships Catherine came into the meet ranked ninth in the conference. In the most exciting race of the meet for the Lipscomb women, she put herself in great position from the start and kept moving past runners lap after lap as they fell off. With a lap to go she found herself in second place and almost won. She ran another huge PR and was the high scorer for the Lipscomb women’s team with her All-Conference finish.
“Catherine has a ton of talent,” said Taylor. “She is fairly young in the sport, so I expect her to make some big leaps forward in the next year or two. I am so proud of Catherine.
“The first half of the season was really a struggle for her and she was very frustrated. She could have let that frustration derail everything for her. Instead she relaxed, focused and let herself run fast. I know she learned a ton about herself and about what it takes to succeed. That knowledge is going to help her and the team the next three years. She was an incredible example that perseverance and a positive attitude can make all the difference.”
With the young talent on the teams Taylor is expecting an even higher level of success for the 2009-2010 season.
Caitlin Anderson, Carolyn Latham and Jenny Randolph served as team captains.
Earning A-Sun Academic All-Conference team honors were Caitlin Anderson, Catherine Beals, Paloma Floden, Carolyn Latham, Ashley Lehman, Jenny Randolph, Shannon Shoemake, Louisa Van Batavia, Valerie Winkler.
Beals earned All A-Sun honors for the 3000m Steeplechase.
“I believe a great foundation has been set,” said Taylor. “Now we need to continue to develop all these young athletes we have, while we work hard to bring in the right recruits in the future. We need to increase our women’s roster. We also need to build an elite distance program while we continue to expand our Track & Field program to be well balanced and championship level in every event. It’s a tough, yet very fun building process.
“We’ve come so far in the two short years I’ve been here. The sky is the limit for us. This is such an incredible school. It is a unique place to grow in every aspect. There aren’t many NCAA Division I programs that are as serious about athletics, academics, high character and using this sport to grow in Christ. Word is spreading, excitement is building within and without, and the best is definitely yet to come. We’ve barely scratched the surface.”