NASHVILLE – With one meet left in her storied Lipscomb track and field career, Madi Talbert is ready to take on the country’s best with her fourth consecutive appearance at the NCAA Division I Outdoor National Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
With three previous appearances at the National Championships under her belt, Talbert comes in with some familiarity of the situation and the venue, Hayward Field. However, the magnitude of the stage can still be a little daunting even to a two-time All-American.
“It's a track, so they're universal,” Talbert said. “Hayward field is a different atmosphere though, with huge crowds and lots of coverage. It is a bit more intimidating than any other race.”
Talbert will be competing in the 3000m steeplechase, an event which she won at the Atlantic Sun Championships with a time of 10:10.93. The win gave her a four-peat in the event at the ASUN Championships.
“Conference is a great set up for Regionals,” Talbert said. “Lipscomb is very fortunate to race our Conference meet in Jacksonville on the same track where Regionals is held. It's a good time to compete well, and get a good confidence booster for the next race on that track. I feel more comfortable there than most athletes because I've raced there twice as much.”
At the East Region Prelims, Talbert came through with an 11th place finish out of a field of 48 runners thanks to a time of 10:04.48.
“The Regionals are tactical races,” Talbert said. “Most races are run for time and trying to get a PR, but the championship races are sometimes run more conservatively, and then tactically. You just want to get a place that qualifies you on to the next level. These races prep you because the championship is run in two parts; the semifinal is tactical as well. You want to run with the intention of qualifying on to finals.”
Both races provided competitive preparation for Talbert as she readies for the National Finals. As the meet approaches, the Charlotte, North Carolina native focuses on facing her biggest personal challenge.
“My biggest challenge is always overcoming doubt,” Talbert said. “It's easy to coast through life and feel at peace with yourself. But when you face big challenges and defining moments, that's when fear and feelings of inadequacy really surface.
“Racing is just a performance, and part of that is clearing your mind and throwing out feelings that deter you from success. By the end of the season your fitness is there, it's the mental game that determines how you do.”
As her time at Lipscomb comes to a close, there Talbert will remember her time with the Purple and Gold fondly.
“I will most remember this experience by the way my teammates loved and lived well. Lipscomb’s environment is very unique; it's hard to imagine finding a team of better people.”
Talbert will race on Thursday at 3:02 p.m. in the semifinals of the 3000m steeplechase.