NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Bill Taylor, director of track & field, announced the addition of eight new freshmen from the class of 2014, along with one transfer joining the women’s cross country program this Fall.
The group will all also run middle distance and distance track for Lipscomb.
“I’m very happy with another terrific class!” Taylor said. “First and foremost, these girls are all a terrific fit with our incredible team and university culture. They are high character, high academics and are great people.
“They also bring a combination of proven talent and great future potential. We have a proven history of developing distance runners, and I am excited to help these girls have fun and run faster than they can imagine!”
As usual, Taylor and his staff have recruited across the country to find the right additions. This class of eight represents seven different states.
Washington state is again well represented with two, while Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, Illinois, Colorado and Tennessee are also represented. In all, the 28 women on the 2014 Lipscomb Cross Country team will represent 13 different states.
“Lipscomb is not like any other NCAA I school in the nation, and our program is very unique,” Taylor said. “We have a goal of winning national championships in cross country, and we get closer to that goal every year. It will happen here.
“However, we emphasize team culture, high character, high academics, service, spiritual growth and personal growth. Some programs have the big name, but we have a genuine culture that emphasizes the whole person in a way you honestly can’t find anywhere else.”
Taylor believes the upcoming freshmen will stand out in more than just athletics while at Lipscomb.
“We are excelling in every area,” Taylor said. “Athletically we are winning conference championships and are on the verge of qualifying the team to nationals. In track we are very strong in distance, and are qualifying athletes to the NCAA I National Championship finals now.
“Academically we have been one of the top NCAA I programs in the nation all seven years I’ve been here. Socially and spiritually we are serving in the community and will take teams on our sixth and seventh mission trips this December (Haiti and Dominican Republic). But the best thing about our program is our team atmosphere. We have a unified, fun and super supportive family team.”
Taylor and the recruiting staff look for athletes who will fit the mold for Lipscomb’s unique team culture.
“We are reaching amazing recruits because they figure out, especially after they visit and see what we are really like, that we offer something very special, something they want in their collegiate athlete experience,” Taylor said. “Plus, it’s fun to draw athletes together from all over the country to learn and grow from each other.”
The 2014 women’s distance class:
Paige Stoner (Pottsville Area High School – Pottsville, Penn., High School Coach: Barb McGinley, Parents: Denise & Daniel Stoner)
(9:37.81 3000m, 10:41.96 3200m, 17:35 5000m, 4:56 1600m)
-Ranked No. 10 in the nation at 3000m this year, after finishing fourth in the historic Penn Relays in 9:37
-4x League and 2x District Champion in the 3200m and 1600m
-National Honors Society member and Spanish National Honors Society Member
-Pottsville Area High School Female Scholar-Athlete
Reason for Choosing Lipscomb: “I never felt so welcomed in a new place in my life! It was evident that the whole team is a very close knit family and it was a family that I could see myself being a part of. I also liked that the team does so many things outside of running together. I found it exciting that the team is very young and full of so much talent that I know there are so many great things coming in the near future!”
Coach Taylor on Paige: “Paige is an awesome person. She has a great positive personality, is a top student, and is a very talented runner. I got to watch her Penn Relays race, and it was very impressive how she made the right moves and ran so tough. She has everything she needs to have an incredible collegiate career and she is going to do some big things here. She is a perfect fit for our program and I look forward to helping her excel and to seeing her impact our team as we strive for big goals.”
Kayla Montgomery (Mount Taber High School – Winston-Salem, PA, High School Coach: Patrick Cromwell, Parents: Alysia & Keith)
(10:32.21 3200m, 17:16 5000m, 5:09 1600m, 9:58 3000m)
-Ranked No. 10 in the nation in the indoor 5000m after finishing 8th in the nation in the New Balance Nationals meet.
-North Carolina Gatorade Runner of the Year
-2013 North Carolina 4A State Cross Country Champion
-2014 Indoor and Outdoor 4A 3200m State Champion
-National Honors Society, National Latin Honors Society, National English Honors Society, National Art Honors Society, AP Scholar with Distinction, President’s Education Award.
Reason for Choosing Lipscomb: “I chose Lipscomb because I really appreciated how the team and coaching staff were willing to take on the risk of having me run for them, even though with Multiple Sclerosis I’m technically not guaranteed four more years of running. I also chose Lipscomb because everyone that I met was extremely welcoming and made me feel at home right away. I’m excited to join the program because all of the girls were extremely nice, and because I can’t wait to see how much I will be able to improve with the help of such a great program. I would also like to help the team reach their goals of winning an NCAA I National title.”
Coach Taylor on Kayla: “Kayla is an inspiration. She has taken something that would stop most people, and has striven for the greatest success. She in a terrific person and she fits perfectly with our culture. She is driven in every area of her life, is an incredible student, and is tough as nails. She is going to do some big things in her running career and she will help us accomplish our team goals as well.”
Katie Sperry (Glenn Allen High School – Glen Allen, VA, High School Coach: Samantha Cancro, Parents: Amy & Joe Sperry)
(17:39 5000m, 10:51 3200m, 5:04 1600m)
-All State Honors in XC, 3200m and 1600m
-District Champion in XC, 3200m and 1600m
-Regional Champion in indoor 3200m and 1600m, and outdoor 1600m
-Fourth at Virginia State Cross Country Championships and runner-up in the state 3200m
-National Honors Society, National Technical Honors Society, National Scholar-Athlete Award, Army Reserve Scholar-Athlete, Marines Scholar-Athlete Award.
Reason for Choosing Lipscomb: “I am beyond excited to begin the next step of my running career with Lipscomb. The team is very welcoming and the family-oriented atmosphere really makes it feel like home. The spiritual aspects of the campus drew my attention from the start. I also enjoy the culture of Nashville and can’t wait to experience all it has to offer. The team at Lipscomb is truly unique and definitely hard to find. They have a desire to never settle for anything less than they are capable of. I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
Coach Taylor on Katie: “Katie brings excellence in academics, a great attitude and personality and a lot of talent to our program. She fits with our culture perfectly. She has also been in a program where she has had to train alone or train with the boys team. Having her training at our level, and with a huge group of fast girls is really going to help her. She has a very bright future here!”
Kacey Kemper (King’s High School – Edmonds, WA, High School Coaches: Rod Wilcox, Daute Gouge, Brent Woodham, Parents: Kim & Keith Kemper)
(4:49 1500m, 5:03 1600m, 2:16 800m, 18:37 5000m)
-2014 Washington State 1600m 1A/1B/2B Champion
-Second in 2014 Washington State Cross Country Championships (top-5 at state all four years)
-Three time Cascade Conference Champion in Cross Country
-Class Valedictorian, National Honors Society
Reason for Choosing Lipscomb: “The combination of a close-knit, Christian running team and a DI program…that’s really hard to find. A great Biology program, study abroad, and Bible and Missions classes (I hope to be a Medical Missionary). I loved what I saw of the team and coaching staff. They all seemed like awesome people that I am so excited to work with! I decided that there was no point in continuing my running career if I didn’t run for a team that offers valuable friendships and leaders, and Lipscomb has just that!”
Coach Taylor on Kacey: “Kacey is another great fit for our program. Obviously I am going to say that about each recruit, or we wouldn’t have recruited them. Kacey has a great personality, a big heart for God and a huge desire to serve others. She is excellent academically. Kacey also comes from a small school in Washington and I know she has a ton of untapped potential that we are going to unlock here.”
Avery Franklin (Maryville High School – Maryville, Tenn. High School Coaches: Landon Harris, Boone Dixon, Nick WHite Parents: Lee & Krysti Franklin )
(18:30 5000m, 2:24 800m, 5:19 1600m, 11:24 3200m)
-Tennessee State Champion 4x800m Relay 2013
-All-State XC 2011, 2012, 2013
-Blount County Champion in 800m, 1600m, 3200m
-Maryville Scholar 2014
Reason for Choosing Lipscomb: “I am excited to join the program at Lipscomb because I really want to improve. I liked the extremely centered Christian environment. I also like the close team and how structured the training is.”
Coach Taylor on Avery: “Avery is a great fit here, she excels academically and will be a valuable member of the team. I’ve watched Avery compete and she is a diamond in the rough. We have a history of helping distance women drop massive time and she can be another of our girls that go from the 18’s to the 16’s. I’m excited to help her grow and run fast!”
Brianne Hoglin (Classical Academy – Monument, CO, High School Coach: Alan Versaw, Parents: Jennie & Brian Hoglin)
(57.7 400m, 2:20 800m, 19:35 5000m)
-State Cross Country qualifier 2011, 2012, 2013
-State Track qualifier 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
-2013 State Champion at 400m
-Member of 6 state championship teams
-Team Captain and Track Most Inspirational
-Academic All-State, National Honors Society
Reason for Choosing Lipscomb: “I am very excited to join the team at Lipscomb because I believe it will be an excellent opportunity to improve as an athlete an grow as a person. It seems to me as a gem with wonderful teammates and a great environment. It was the school I visited where I felt the most at home and where I found people who felt the same about running and life in general as I do. I chose the school because it had everything I was looking for and that includes a team I am beyond excited to run with.”
Coach Taylor on Brianne: “Brianne has a terrific personality and a positive attitude. She has a great leadership background and is excellent academically. I’m not honestly sure what to expect from her in Cross Country, which is kinda fun. In track I expect she will be primarily 400/800 and might try a 1500 at some point. So in some ways Cross Country is primarily for strength building. But she is also coming down from altitude, and we have a habit of getting dramatic improvements, so I feel very positive about her potential in Cross Country as well. She’s a great addition to our program in every way.”
Kinzie Icayan (Richland High School - Richland, WA, High School Coach: Jay Bartlett, Parents: Shanda & Cesar Icayan)
(2:22 800m, 5:25 1600m, 19:51 5000m)
-Honorable Mention all-area 1600m 2013
-Mid-Columbia Student-Athlete of the Year for Spring sports
-District qualifier in 800m all four years
-Academic Team State Champions 2013
-Outstanding Newcomer Award in XC junior year, Coaches Award in Track
Reason for Choosing Lipscomb: “So many reasons!!! When I visited the team was SO welcoming. A ton of the girls have already reached out to me to make sure school was going well and that if I ever needed anything to just let them know. I cannot wait to get to know them all better, it’ll be like having a ton of big sisters! They were really positive and encouraging too. You could just tell that they loved being around one another. My number one reason for choosing Lipscomb was obviously to run there, but the school itself was awesome. The buildings were super pretty and the number of majors they offer gave me a lot of academic options. The fact that God is always at the center of everything they do is another major contributor to why Lipscomb was so appealing. Coach Taylor, Coach Jenny and the rest of the team was awesome and I can’t wait to run for them. In last years recruiting press release one of the girls said that she felt that if she didn’t go to Lipscomb (after visiting), she would be missing out on something really special. I couldn’t really understand what she meant by that until I visited Lipscomb myself and I couldn’t agree more. “
Coach Taylor on Kinzie: “Kinzie is, of course, another great fit. I really like her sense of humor…of course I’m a northwesterner, and we have a slightly different sense of humor in the northwest J. She brings very strong academics, a great personality and a big desire to get better. Her times coming in aren’t where most of our recruits are, but that isn’t a bad thing. We develop and improve runners like no other program in the nation. While we are signing top national recruits these days, we also have a roster and a history full of upper 19-minute runners that run in the 16’s for us, and I love working with both. It will all depend on Kinzie’s belief and desire. I know she has the ability and it will be fun to help her discover it. “
Grace Dean (transfer from Olivet Nazarene University. Lakes Community High School – Lindenhurst, IL, Coaches: Keith West & Matthew Rife, Parents: Bryan & Beth Dean)
(17:38 5000m, 38:24 10,000m, 10:25 3000m, 5:00 1500m)
-NAIA All-American in Cross Country 2012
-Illinois State Champion 4x800m Relay 2012
-Illinois All-State Cross Country 2011
Reason for Choosing Lipscomb: “Because of all the success I have seen and heard about the program, and the girls on the team. I am excited to run with them and develop relationships with them. Also, the Christian environment and location of the school.”
Coach Taylor on Grace: “Grace is super nice and has a lot of potential. She ran very well for Olivet her freshman year and for whatever reason didn’t have as much success this past year. Sometimes a change of environment can make a huge difference and I know she can excel here. She’s a long distance runner with experience already in the 10,000m. We can really build on that. She’s a great fit and had a good understanding of the unique culture at Lipscomb, as her sister attends Lipscomb. If she takes a deep breath, resets, and buys in to what we are all about and how we do things, she is going to crush her personal bests!”