NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb track and field teams took a break from organized workouts over spring break but were held accountable for individual workouts with the Vanderbilt Black and Gold Invite on the horizon.
“This weekend’s meet is the start of the new season for us,” Bill Taylor, director of cross country and track and field, said. “Spring break is over and we’ve had indoor season and a few outdoor meets. This is the time to perform big, to move up in the A-Sun rankings to secure those marks for the preliminary round of the NCAA I National Championships.”
The Black and Gold is a two-day meet beginning Friday at 4 p.m. with field events and Invitational running events at 6 p.m. Saturday kicks off at 10 a.m. for field events and 11 a.m. for running events.
The Black and Gold Invite has several area teams along with schools from BCS conferences. Highlighted by host Vanderbilt, the meet will see Austin Peay, Belmont, Bradley, DePaul, Louisville, Loyola (Ill.), Memphis, Miami (Ohio), Michigan, Middle Tennessee State, Ohio State, Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky.
Lipscomb garnered two athletes of the week this week from the Atlantic Sun Conference as Dani Walker claimed her third-straight award and Gemikal Prude earned his first of the outdoor season.
Walker, who has yet to lose an outdoor race this season, won the 800-meter run at the Jerry Quiller Classic last week in a time of 2:07.66. Walker owns the second-best time in the country in that event. Previously this outdoor season, Walker ran a school-record 10:32.95 in the steeplechase which is the top-time in the country. Both of those times are faster than what it took to qualify for the NCAA National Preliminary Round last year.
Walker will run her first 1500-meter run of the year in the invitational section Friday night.
“Dani has obviously had a stellar season so far,” Taylor said. “She is racing at a new level and has been leading a practice effort that far exceeds anything I’ve seen from a women’s distance squad.
“We need more of our women rising up like that too. It is going to happen soon, I can see we are on the verge. We just need a couple more girls to take the mental leap.”
Prude crossed the magical seven-foot mark high jumpers en route to winning his field athlete of the week. Prude jumped 2.14 meters at the Samford Invite to win the event and post the eighth-best jump in the NCAA this season. His jump has qualified for the NCAA National Preliminary Round every year since the inception of the format.
“What a breakthrough getting over seven feet,” Taylor said. “He opened up a whole new world now and it’s clear he can keep going higher.”
Brenna Thompson won the 400-meter run in the Jerry Quiller Classic in a time of 57.82 seconds, more than a second in front of second place.
“Brenna is building on a great freshman season last year,” Taylor said. “I think she will drop at least two more seconds off the 400.”
Tucker Peabody picked up a pair of victories at the Samford Invite in the 100 and 200 meter dashes. Peabody has the top-time in the A-Sun in the 200 with a time of 21.28 seconds.
“Tucker has been good,” Taylor said. “As good as he has been I think he and the rest of us are waiting for him to take another step. He is close.”
Peabody set the meet record last year in the 100 with a time of 10.99 seconds. He has already surpassed that time this year with a 10.69 second run at the Samford Invite.
“Although it feels like we have a lot of season left, we only have four meets after this weekend, prior to the A-Sun Outdoor Championships,” Taylor said. “There isn’t much time now and our athletes need to really focus in on what they want to achieve before the season is over.”
Entrance into the meet is free for fans which is held at on the campus of Vanderbilt. Live results can be found on the web at www.cfpitiming.com.