NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Lipscomb Lady Bisons track and field team will compete for the final time this season as a team at the Atlantic Sun Conference Track and Field Championships. The meet takes place Friday and Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla.
The event sets up as a way to get more individuals the times and marks needed to reach the NCAA National Preliminary Round.
“Usually we are trying to score every point we can and place higher every year but with our women’s team, especially with our distance squad, it sets up a little differently,” Bill Taylor, director of cross country and track and field, said. “We are trying to get people into the preliminary rounds. We haven’t gotten times that we are looking for. Some of our focus on the women’s program has shifted on to what is best for the program long term as opposed to what is best in this specific conference championship.”
The Lady Bisons welcome back Dani Walker after injury derailed her outstanding season due to a stress fracture. Although she has had a lengthy layoff, Taylor believes the junior will pick up where she left off at.
“Her recovery has been going very well. Her cross-training has been going extremely well. Dani is a competitor and is going to do great. We have big goals and she won’t miss a beat. She has invested too much – both before and since the injury.”
Walker enters the championships highly ranked in numerous events. She has the top time in the steeplechase, second in the 1,500-meter run and third in the 800-meter run. Throughout the season, Walker picked up three-straight athlete of the week awards and was named the Most Outstanding Performer at the A-Sun Indoor Championships.
Kendra Lobley enters the meet as the defending champion in two events. However, she will look to defend her title in just one event, the 5,000-meter run.
“Kendra is a little beat up and won’t look to repeat as champion in the steeplechase,” Taylor said. “She will run the 5,000 and face pretty tough competition from within her own team. I won’t consider it a success or not a success with her if she wins or doesn’t win.”
Instead Taylor is looking for goals and certain marks to consider a success.
“We are looking for things other than that to evaluate her success on. She has other goals and is looking to accomplish those and that isn’t dependent upon winning the conference championship.”
Lobley enters the championship with the top time in the 5,000-meter run but the Lady Bisons hold seven of the top-10 spots. Madelin Talbert, Tessa Hoefle and Minna Fields each hold the following 2nd, 3rd and 4th positions, respectively.
Looking to repeat as an all-conference performer in the javelin, Taylor Mason enters the weekend with the second-best time this year. She posted a toss of 38.93 meters at the Vanderbilt Black and Gold Invite.
The Lady Bisons have several others who are highly ranked in the A-Sun this season including Katie Bunker who has the second-best time in the 1,500-meter run and the fourth-best in the 800-meter run.
Alex Newby owns the top-time in the 10,000-meter run. Her time of 37:42.92 was set at the Raleigh Relays. Teammates Renee Menzie and Missy Dowd are ranked third and fifth, respectively.
In the throws, April Terry is ranked second in the shot put with a toss of 13.5 meters and ranks fifth in the hammer throw with a throw of 47.53 meters.
“We have a great team environment,” Taylor said. “People rally and we are known for our support for each other. No matter how we go about the conference meet, we want to score as many points as possible. We want to go to that next level – being aware of your position, getting another spot and gaining another second.”
Events begin Friday at 8 a.m. with the women’s heptathlon. The final event on Friday is at 7:55 p.m. with the men’s 10,000-meter run. Saturday kicks off at 8 .m. with the men’s decathlon and finishes up at 8:45 p.m. with the women’s 4X400 relay.