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Distance, relays big for Lipscomb at Auburn

Saturday, April 07, 2012
by Colby Wilson

AUBURN, Ala. – At one of the bigger tune-ups before the conference meet, Lipscomb track and field put together a number of solid marks that will hopefully translate into top finishes at the Atlantic Sun Outdoor Championships, April 20.

Sophomore Dani Walker continues to improve in the mid-distances after injury robbed her of much training during indoor season. She finished second in the 1500m run with a school-record 4:32.76s run, and followed it up in the 800m with an impressive 11th-place, 2:14.35s mark.

“Dani’s 1500 was a big race for her today,” said Lipscomb assistant coach Luke Syverson. “She had been struggling a bit so it was good for her to get a good race in.”

Walker also helped break the women’s 4x400m record, running the second leg of a race that featured senior Valerie Winkler, freshman Brenna Thompson and junior Sara Stephens. They finished 12th with a 3:52.34s mark.

The 4x400m relay team of freshmen Matthew Deery and Colin Dempster, sophomore Kenny Smith and junior Bobby Bassett finished ninth; the Bison set a school record with a 3:16.13s mark, breaking the mark that had stood since 1976.

“The 4x400m is my favorite event in track,” said Lipscomb head coach Bill Taylor. “It’s the foundation on which a program is built, so I’m thrilled to see both the men and women break school records.”

Syverson was impressed with Walker’s relay contributions.

“Dani came back and gave us a big lift in the relay,” Syverson said. “Both 4x400 teams have set themselves up well for conference. It was very exciting for the men to break an older record.”

Also in the women’s 1500m, sophomore Katie Bunker came in fourth at 4:33.71s; she also eclipsed the former school record.

In 3000m run action, sophomore Alex Newby shattered her personal-best with a 9:59.87s mark, becoming just the fourth Lady Bison to break the 10-minute barrier. She finished third.

“Our women’s distance team posted some very exciting results for us at Auburn,” Taylor said. “So happy with Dani and Katie in the 1500; that’s big!

“I’m also very excited for Alex Newby breaking the 10-minute mark in the 3000m run. That’s a big confidence boost for her.”

In the women’s 3000m steeplechase, freshman Minna Fields finished less than two seconds off the school-record with an 11:07.91s mark; she came in third. Junior Emily Longden was fourth at 11:16.83s.

“Minna is the third different women’s competitor in the last three years to get within two seconds of the record,” Taylor said. “And that was in her first-ever attempt at the steeple! Emily Longden’s personal-best was big for her confidence as well.”

Freshman Colin Dempster earned a nice tenth-place finish in the men’s 400m dash with a 48.34s mark. That is one second behind Jim Bloomingburg’s 1976 school record.

In the field, sophomore O’Neisha Smith placed sixth in the invitational high jump with a 1.70m (5’ 7”) height; she attempted the school record but was unsuccessful.

Freshman Houston Ward finished ninth in the discus with a personal-best 47.68m (156’ 5”) toss.

“Very big day for Houston,” Syverson said. “He had been stagnant in his throws the last few weeks, so this was a breakthrough for him.”

In late Friday night action at the Stanford Invitational, freshman Kendra Lobley lowered her school-best 5000m time to 16:41.84s, finishing 13th in her section. Sophomore Tessa Hoefle was also 13th in her heat of the 5000m, finishing at 17:13.75s.

“Kendra ran another great race on Friday night,” Taylor said. “The Stanford 5K was a big learning experience for both Kendra and Tessa. Adjusting to the feel of big and fast races is really important.  Both girls learned a lot that will make them much better in the future.

"Kendra's newest school record led a nice list of new school marks.  And she performed at an elite level at the best regular season meet in the nation.  It's another big step for our program.”

The Lipscomb track and field teams will be in the Nashville area Saturday, when they compete at Tennessee State’s Boston Moon Classic.