NASHVILLE – It was a busy weekend for the Lipscomb track and field squad as the Bisons competed in three different meets over the course of three days: the Mt. SAC Relays in California, the Bison Outdoor Classic in Pennsylvania, and the Austin Peay Invitational in nearby Clarksville, Tennessee.
“This was a really great weekend for the team, as we continued to see more breakout performances,” Lipscomb Director of Track and Field Bill Taylor said. “We've felt it building, both in our previous competitions and our practices. There has been a plan all season, and it is nice to see it coming together at the right time.
"Even more exciting to me is the number of young runners setting big PR's. So many of our breakthroughs have been underclassmen.”
The successful weekend was bolstered by strong performances at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, California, a nationally-renown track meet.
Senior Wayne Newman finished second in the 110m hurdles with a time of 14.18 seconds. He also competed in the 400m hurdles, placing seventh with a season-best time of 52.49 seconds. He currently ranks first in both events in the ASUN standings.
"Wayne Newman continues to impress, this time running his season best in the 400m hurdles,” Taylor said. “He also had a great performance in the 110's.”
Sophomore Ryan Speer finished 11th in the 800m with a 1:51.15 mark, breaking his own school outdoor record in the event. The time is now the second-best mark in the ASUN.
"Ryan Speer ran another great 800m, setting a school record in the process,” Taylor said. “As fast as he has run, he is so close to a major breakthrough at that distance. It is going to be exciting watching him race over the last few meets of the season.”
Senior Jacob Poyner placed 15th in the 1500m with a time of 3:49.35 and 26th in the 5000m with a 14:20.48 mark, both of which are new personal records. He now sits in the top three for both events in the ASUN.
Senior Juan Gonzalez finished 20th in the 5000m with a time of 14:14.64, a new school record and the top time in the ASUN. He now owns the top conference time in two events, as he still sits first in the 10,000m.
"Juan Gonzalez ran another great race, breaking his own school record in the 5000m,” Taylor said. “Jake Poyner also ran a great PR in the 5000m, after running a PR in the 1500m. Great work by those two upper-classmen.”
At the Bison Outdoor Classic, freshman Courtney Brenner led the way with a second place finish in the 5000m. Her time of 16.33 is a new personal record and currently leads the ASUN.
"Courtney Brenner was possibly the biggest breakout performance of a weekend with tons of great performances,” Taylor said. “She dropped 43-seconds off her previous best 5000m and destroyed the sub-17 minute barrier.
“More than that, she raced smooth and relaxed, and made brilliant moves. She was gutsy and confident and owned the race. It was so exciting to watch. Her time will be close to qualifying for the NCAA I National Championship Prelims. She probably needs about 4-5 more seconds to be safe.”
Junior Kacey Kemper placed fifth in the 800m and 20th in the 1500m. Her times of 2:11.56 and 4:32.39 were both new personal records and both rank second in the ASUN.
"Kacey Kemper ran two tactically intelligent races, getting heat wins in both the 1500m and the 800m,” Taylor said. “Both races were PR's for her. Her racing is perfect. Kacey has unlimited potential from 800m to 5000m. It is fun watching her rise up and become a major force on the track.”
Sophomore Clare Losito finished third in the 3000m Steeplechase, setting a new personal record of 10:35.59 which ranks second in the conference.
"Clare Losito continues to run PR's in the 3000m Steeplechase,” Taylor said. “Her time of 10:35.59 is probably about 5-6 seconds away from getting her in to the NCAA I National Championship Prelims. She is so close. It has been very fun watching her get better every week, at everything she does.”
Sophomore Brent Leber finished 25th in the 10,000m with a time of 30:27.37, which broke his personal record and nearly set a new school record. He ranks second in the ASUN now in the event. John Green posted a school freshman record time of 31:26.90 in the same event.
"Brent Leber's performance certainly challenges Courtney for biggest breakout,” Taylor said. “Brent dropped 1-minute 17-seconds off his 10,000m PR, running the second fastest time in school history and a sophomore record.”
Sophomore Katie Sperry finished 21st in the 5000m with a time of 18:03.16, while fellow sophomore Hannah Owens set a new personal record time of 17:26.12 in the 5000m.
"I was also impressed with Hannah Owens and Katie Sperry in the 5000m,” Taylor said. “Hannah set a nice PR. She is going to be really good.
“Katie Sperry has been very sick for a long time, and actually has to wear a brace because she coughed so hard she pulled a muscle. Despite all that, she ran super tough and just missed a PR. She is close to a big breakthrough, especially after we get a few consistent weeks of training in.”
Freshman Kaleb Kunes placed 19th in the 3000m Steeplechase with a time of 9:29.26, which is a new personal record.
Sophomore Andrew Ayers turned in a new personal record time of 1:55.84 in the 800m, while freshman William Kachman broke the 15-minute barrier in the 5000m with a 14:57.76 mark.
"Will Kachman broke 15-minutes in the 5000m, the third freshman on our team to do that this spring,” Taylor said. “The men's distance squad is doing some great work, and I think a lot of these guys are also on the verge of something even bigger. We've got seven freshmen or sophomores who have run 15:10 or faster already. The future looks very bright.”
At the Austin Peay Invitational, seniors Katie Bianchini (4:42.11) and Barbara Lee Ball (4:45.60) placed fourth and ninth, respectively, in the 1500m.
Sophomore Sam Woodford finished third in the 3000m Steeplechase with a 11:27.10 mark.
"At Austin Peay, Sam Woodford ran her first ever steeplechase,” Taylor said. “While her time doesn't turn heads yet, she has the potential to be another amazing steepler here. If she commits to the event and puts in the hard work, she will be at National Prelims by next year. I love the steeple strength and development we continue to show.”
Senior Abbey McMurray turned in season-best marks in the 100m (12.50 seconds) and 200m (25.49 seconds).
At the Bryan Clay Invite, freshman Ahmed Amaar ran the 200m in 21.69 seconds, good enough for the top mark in the ASUN. He is also tied for the conference lead in the 100m.
As the regular season begins to wrap up, Taylor believes his squad is ready to make even more of an impact than they already have this year.
"I've been stressing tactical intelligence and gutsy racing with the women's distance squad,” Taylor said. “At the beginning of the season, I knew we had to improve in those two areas in order to take the program to the next level. It is also crucial for each individual to be ready for the biggest races and the post-season.
“In some ways that meant stepping back to emphasize those aspects. Sometimes it's not an easy process because it means prioritizing learning and sacrificing a bit in the short term, to get something much bigger and better in the longer term. I'm so impressed with the progress that has been made in those two areas. It is resulting in big breakthrough performances.
“More than that, I see a level of guts and confidence that we have needed. The team is excited. The attitudes are great. They see that these tactics work. Their confidence is growing. They feel the energy and the excitement building. We have big goals, and I see belief in those goals that makes me even more excited for our future.”