Baylor track & field opens the 2019 indoor campaign Saturday (distance events Friday) at the Ted Nelson Invitational in College Station, Texas.
“We have a lot of student-athletes that I’m really excited to see compete for the first time,” head coach Todd Harbour said. “Some of our freshmen. We don’t have as many as we did last year. We’re a little bit more of a veteran team. When you have as many conference champions and All-Americans as we have coming back, it’s a good group.”
The Bears are sending 63 student-athletes to the season opener, with 11 competing Friday and the remaining 52 getting things started on Saturday.
“They are ready,” Harbour said. “We have a bunch of them ready to go. I’m excited to see all of them across the board. From the field to what we have on the track. The freshmen are excited to go.”
Things will get started for Baylor Friday with the distance medley relay and 5,000-meter races. Associate head coach Jon Capron is looking for the Bears’ cross country runners to build off the fall season and take another step forward in the indoor/outdoor seasons.
“Somebody like Sarah Antrich, I really expect her to take another step forward,” Capron said. “Celia (Holmes) overperformed for her status as a freshman. I’m really interested to see what we can do with her PRs. Connor (Laktasic) had a great cross country season, and I really expect him to translate that cross fitness into a good 5K. J.B. (Sandlund) has been working really hard, and we’re going to let some of the freshmen who didn’t get to compete during cross go indoor a little bit. I’m excited to get to indoor and use it as a build towards outdoor.”
Saturday is an event-filled day across the board that includes sprints, hurdles, quarter miles, distance, horizontal/vertical jumps, throws, middle distance, multi-events and relays.
Associate head coach Mike Ford’s sprint crew returns All-Americans Kiana Horton and Maxwell Willis, and he’s expecting more success in 2019.
“You start with Kiana,” Ford said. She’s had a really good fall, so I’m expecting a lot from her this year. This year she’s a little more comfortable with the 200m/400m double, so I’m looking forward to seeing what she does. Maxwell has had another good fall. He’ll run the 60m and 200m this weekend. He’s had his best fall, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do.
“The sophomore kids that we have, Sydney Washington has had a really good fall also,” Ford added. “She’s stepped up and is a lot more mature. Kennedy Bailey will run really fast in the 60m hurdles this upcoming year. She’s put in the work. Also, Isaiah Cunningham has battled some injuries, but he’s been training really hard.”
This season’s quartermiler group is one with a lot of depth, returning All-Americans Wil London, Howard Fields III, Caleb Dickson, Antwuan Musgrove, Victoria Powell, Aaliyah Miller, and Leticia De Souza. Director of Track & Field Clyde Hart is optimistic about the Bears’ outlook heading into indoor.
“We have a good situation,” Hart said. “We have a mixture of returning veterans such as Wil London, Howard Fields III and Caleb Dickson, plus Jayson Baldridge. Last year, we had three critical injuries that slowed us down. This year at this point, we have good depth. We have a freshman that has showed great promise in fall training, Matthew Moorer. He’s going to help us to add to the group we have returning. We have a pool of 6 to 8 kids that we can draw from, and certainly we’re going to depend very heavily on London and Fields.
“On the women’s side, Victoria Powell is our mainstay over in that group. There are a couple of the 800-meter runners that will help us on the relay.”
In the horizontal and vertical jumps, associate head coach Stacey Smith is ready to see what her student-athletes can do.
“I expect Jalen (Seals) to jump well this weekend,” Smith said. “Alex Madlock is another one. Both of them were all-conference last year, and I expect big things from them this year. My high jumpers, Alex Lord is back. I’m looking forward to seeing what she does after having to sit out last year in outdoor.
“For freshmen, I’m looking to see how they’re going to do. Moorea (Long), Jacinta (Fisher), Abena (Ofori), and Kelli (Silcox). This first meet, we just want to get through healthy. This first meet is like a trial. It’s our preview to see how the rest of the season is going to go.”
In the pole vault, the Bears return two student-athletes who were all-conference as freshmen, and assistant coach Brandon Richards has high hopes for the newcomers as well.
“The ones that have the actual experience from last year are Tuesdi Tidwell and Riley Richards,” Richards said. “They have the conference experience, and they went to the NCAA first regional rounds. KC (Lightfoot) being a freshman, he has all the technique and the good forces behind him. He’s standing to have a really good year. He’s been jumping really well in practice.
“The mindset right now is keep working on technique. I just want them thinking about the process. I’m not putting any expectations on them, no pressure, but I would not be surprised if every single one of them does a personal best this year, or this Saturday.”
Assistant coach Jeff Chakouian has a new group in both throws and multi-events, and he’s looking for them to build the foundation for the future.
“It’s kind of a new territory for us because our whole group is really young,” Chakouian said. “On the throws side, Amani (Dotson) is a senior. Samone (Turner) and Cole (Hardan) both redshirted last year. So there are people that we’re trying to get in and travel, and hopefully get some points out of at the conference meet. We have to make sure they compete well and then make adjustments. I’m looking forward to the next four years competing with them because I think they’ll be a good foundation to build the throws program.
“When you look at the multis, it’s pretty much the same scenario. Tiffani (Peacock) is our sophomore, and this is the first year she’s done the multi all year. I have three people who have never had a full year of multi training. Alyssa (Miller) is someone we’re looking for to be top 3 or 4 at the conference meet, with Tiff and Megan (Daley) really right there pushing her. We’re really young, and it’s the group that’s going to set the foundation for our multi tradition.”
For updates on the Ted Nelson Invitational, there will be live results athttp://flashresults.com/2019_Meets/Indoor/01-11_TedNelsonFriday/ [flashresults.com] (Friday) and http://flashresults.com/2019_Meets/Indoor/01-12_TedNelsonSaturday/ [flashresults.com](Saturday).
“This is the first meet back from a long fall and Christmas break, and you just want to stay healthy and try to get some work in,” Coach Harbour said. “If anything comes beyond that, that’s a bonus. It’s kind of like a glorified scrimmage for football. It’s a little bit more than that. It’s like your first game. We’re excited and ready to go, but we’re going all the way to June. You kind of have to temper it a little bit. Don’t get too up, too down. Let’s get some work in and see where we’re at. We have Iowa next week, and then Texas Tech and that’s a big one. This first one is a good meet. It’s a good measuring stick to show us where we are.”