JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Five members of the Lipscomb track and field squad competed in the NCAA Division I East Region Preliminaries over the weekend, each hoping to turn in yet another top notch performance to add to an already successful season.
Senior Madi Talbert led the way for the Bisons by qualifying for a fourth consecutive Outdoor National Championship in the 3000m steeplechase, a feat that had not previously been accomplished in school or conference history.
"Madi accomplished something very special by qualifying for her fourth consecutive NCAA Division I National Championship finals,” Lipscomb Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Bill Taylor said. “Not many have done that. I know the whole Lipscomb community is excited and proud.”
The Charlotte, North Carolina native finished 11th out of 48 runners thanks to a blazing time of 10:04.48.
"It's pretty amazing how she has developed from a high schooler with a 3200m PR of 11:31, to a four-time NCAA Division I National Finals qualifier, two-time All-American so far, Olympic Trials qualifier, and a a runner with a PR of 9:50 for the 3000m Steeplechase,” Taylor said. “That's quite a journey and should be an inspiration for our athletes that it doesn't matter where you come from, big things can happen if you believe in yourself.”
Talbert has twice earned All-American honors in her previous National Championship appearances, and will look to add to that total this season.
Senior Gemikal Prude made the last leap of his historic Lipscomb career. Despite not qualifying for the National Championships, the Florida native closed out his career with an expectedly strong season.
"Gemikal had another great year, and though he didn't qualify for Nationals this year, he has made such a huge mark on our program,” Taylor said. “He has had quite a career, and I will miss watching him jumping over a foot higher than his own height.”
With both Talbert and Prude’s historical careers nearing their end, Taylor is both proud of what they accomplished and excited to see how their success will impact the future of the program.
"Madi and Gemikal are proof we can do amazing things at Lipscomb, and we can compete with the top of the NCAA Division I. It's the end of an era in a sense, with both being seniors. After Madi finishes up at National Finals, it will be time to start a new era.
"Our goal, and my hope, is that we take what Madi and Gemikal have started, and we build on that. They are special athletes for sure. We have many more special athletes that have the ability to get there too. Who will be the next group to carry us forward? That's a very exciting question. It's time for the next group to step forward."
Sophomore Wayne Newman competed in two events in Jacksonville. He finished 30th in the 110m hurdles, just six spots outside of National Championship qualifying range, with a time of 14.26 seconds. In the 400m hurdles, he finished 34th with a mark of 52.75 seconds.
"Wayne did some very special things this year,” Taylor said. “Taking down both outdoor hurdle records was big. He broke Charlie Lyle's 400m hurdle record from 1976 by over a second. That record was one of the oldest remaining records. Wayne is so close to getting to Eugene, and I expect his desire is even greater today than it was yesterday.”
In the 10,000m, juniors Barbara Lee Ball and Sally Larson placed 26th and 41st, respectively. Ball ran a time of 35:31.15, while Larson finished in 36:34.02.
"Barbara Lee and Sally had a strong season, especially in the 10,000m,” Taylor said. “I know they have learned more, have more experience, and are ready to be key contributors for the team again next year. They will be ready to have a terrific senior season starting in the fall.”
As most of the Purple and Gold begin to look toward next season, everyone’s eyes will be on Eugene, Oregon on June 8-11 as Talbert will compete in one final National Championship.
"Most of our athletes are already preparing for next year,” Taylor said. “At the same time, we will all be rooting for Madi in two weeks. She has a great opportunity to finish strong and set the bar a little higher again. She is sparking the imagination and belief of her teammates. It's a great time to be a Bison."