Mackenzie Barnett and her Lipscomb teammates weren’t fast starters, but they were fast finishers at last weekend’s NCAA Division I Women’s Cross Country National Championships.
Barnett and the Bisons started out near the back of the pack and were in 29th place out of 31 teams after the first kilometer of the 6K (3.8-mile) race. But they moved up to 18th, 16th, 15th and 13th over the next four kilometers before surging all the way to an 11th-place finish.
“It was so much fun,” said Barnett, a junior from Columbus North. “We were so excited. It was the first time that Lipscomb cross-country had ever been to nationals, so we were just trying to run as hard as we could and place as high as we could. Our goal was to be in the top 15, so 11th in the nation, we were just super thrilled about.”
Barnett’s progression through the field closely mirrored that of her team. She was outside the top 150 the first 2K and 141st at the midway point. She was 105th at the 5K before passing 24 runners in the final 1,000 meters to finish 81st in 20 minutes, 33.1 seconds.
Barnett was Lipscomb’s No. 2 runner. Her finish is the fifth-best ever by an ASUN Conference individual at the national championships and the second-best in Lipscomb history behind only the 38th-place finish by teammate Lydia Miller in the same NCAA meet.
“I went out a little conservative and then once we got to 4K and we had 2K left, I was feeling good, so I just made it my goal the last 2K to pass as many girls as I could,” Barnett said. “It doesn’t always happen like that, but on a good day, that’s how it happens. It’s always good to finish strong. Top 100 would have been great for me, so I was super thankful for 81st.”
Columbus North graduate and Lipscomb junior Mackenzie Barnett, left, makes her way through the NCAA Championship Nov. 18 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Photo courtesy of Lipscomb Athletics
The Bisons were ranked No. 25 in the country, so to finish 11th in the NCAA meet was a huge jump.
“It was a great season,” Barnett said. “Our team, just our environment and our team culture is so uplifting and positive. It just made for a really fun and exciting season. I’m just blessed to be a part of a group of girls who are incredible people and incredible runners to train and compete with.”
Last month, Barnett finished seventh in 17:26.1 for 5K (3.1 miles) earn All-Conference honors and help Lipscomb to the ASUN title. The elementary education major also earned Academic All-District honors this year.
Now, the focus turns to indoor track season this winter, then outdoor track in the spring.
“I would love to make it to regional in track,” Barnett said. “That’s the big goal for me. I’m going to run the 10K for the first time this track season, so I’m excited to see how that goes.”