EUGENE, Ore.. – It was a history-making run for the Lipscomb track and field team. Freshman Madi Talbert became the first LU athlete to compete at the NCAA Championships in the national finals on Thursday evening in Eugene, Ore.
Talbert competed in the 3000-meter steeplechase finishing 12th in her heat in a time of 10:41.98. Her time was 23rd out of 24 competitors.
“Madi had an amazing season,” Bill Taylor, director of cross country and track and field, said. “She earned her trip to nationals. I’m very proud of her and I know everyone is. This was a lot for a freshman to bear. She surprised everyone to qualify by moving up 30 places in the East rankings to do it.
“She was the ‘first’ for Lipscomb, with all the press and expectations that come with it, and she did it all alone. There is nothing wrong with that. Someone had to be the first and we are happy about the press. Madi handled it better than I could ever have expected from a freshman."
The Charlotte, N.C., native entered the preliminary round two weeks ago ranked 42nd in the East Region and moved up to 12th place to earn her place in the national finals.
Although Talbert didn’t move on to the final round on Saturday, Taylor was not disappointed in the results.
“Her race didn’t go well,” Taylor said. “She was very tight and her barriers were rough. She will look back at this and realize what could have been. If she had a three second PR, she would have gotten into finals. She will learn a ton from this experience and will be far better for it.
Just by moving onto the national stage, Talbert was a winner as a freshman. The experience she gained will be valuable for the future.
“I said all along that this would be a positive no matter what happened,” Taylor said. “I meant it. Now, I don’t want her to race like that again, but I don’t think she will.
“She has talent, has shown great focus and composure, and knows how to be a champion. We have the team environment along with the training and coaching to help her continue to develop.”
Emma Coburn of Colorado entered with the top time and finished first overall in 9:46.76. Talbert opened the race and took the lead in the first turn. She held the lead for just over a lap before fading into the pack.
“Madi will be back at nationals,” Taylor said. “Wiser and with experience and hopefully with a bunch of teammates. She will score here and I think she can win it. We’ve got work to do in the meantime and a very exciting cross country season to have fun with first.”