On the first day of the NCAA Outdoor Championships, Baylor track and field sophomore Wil London advanced out of 400-meter semifinal action at Hayward Field Wednesday.
The Waco, Texas, product was the only one of BU's six entries in semifinal races on the track to qualify for event finals on Friday.
Despite getting off to a good start, London fell back in the middle part of his race. He then made his move with 175 meters to go and cruised up to fourth with 100 meters remaining. On the dash to the finish line, London closed well to take third in his heat with a time of 45.19. At that point, he was second of two time qualifiers for the final, but had to survive a third heat in which the third-place finisher could not be faster than his time. After a slow third heat, London was officially through to his first outdoor 400-meter final with the seventh-best time overall. The Waco, Texas, product was 14th in 400-meter preliminary action a year ago.
For only the fourth time in the last 38 years, Baylor’s 4x400-meter relay did not advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships final. Chris Platt, London, Caleb Dickson and George Caddick finished third in their heat and 10th overall with a time of 3:04.20. Platt (47.01) handed the stick off to London fifth and at the break-in point the Bears were over 10 meters behind the lead pack. Just as he had done in his individual race, London (44.59) used a strong final 200 meters to take the lead with 75 meters left on his lap and handed the baton to Dickson with a three-meter lead. Dickson (47.06) held that advantage until the latter stages of his leg when he was passed by Auburn and Arkansas. Facing a .71 second deficit to Arkansas on the anchor, Caddick (45.32) closed the gap and nearly got past the Razorbacks to claim an automatic qualifying placing, but he came up just .10 seconds short.
Four other BU entries on the opening day also did not to get through to the semifinal round.
Before anchoring the 4x400-meter relay Caddick, running out of lane seven in the second of three 400-meter heats, had a solid opening 200 meters, but coming off the final curve the senior was near the back of the pack and didn’t have his normal strong close as he took seventh in his heat and 16th overall in 45.89.
Freshman Maxwell Willis was the lone men’s athlete to qualify in two individual events. However, he missed advancing to the finals in both. In the 100 meters, the freshman got off to a solid start, but was unable to maintain that advantage in the early stages of the race finishing sixth in his heat and 14th overall in 10.18. In the 200 meters, the Upper Marlboro, Md., native was in a pack of three runners battling for third coming off the final curve, but he did not get to the front of that group and finished fifth in his heat and 18th overall in 20.64.
To open the day, the men’s 4x100-meter relay of Malik Wilson, London, Willis and Ian Braxton finished 20th in a time of 39.62. Despite missing out on advancing to Friday’s finals, the Bears’ 4x1 relay made its seventh appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the last eight years.
• London is Baylor’s first men’s athlete to qualify for the 400-meter final at the NCAA Outdoor Championships since LeJerald Betters was third in 2008.
TOP QUOTE #1
"Today, Wil lived for another day. I know he still has a better race in him. I know he knows that too, but he is in the finals and we will see what happens on Friday. He is the last man in, so it is all above him and he just has to beat some people, which I think he will." - director of track and field Clyde Hart on Wil London
Baylor's women's athletes will be in action Thursday at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. BU's first event will be the pole vault with Annie Rhodes starting at 5 p.m. (7 p.m. CT). Six more entries, the 4x100-meter relay, Taylor Bennett (100m & 200m), Kiana Hawn (400h), Cion Hicks (shot put) and the 4x400-meter relay will be in action later in the evening.
To stay current on all things Baylor Track, follow the team on Twitter and Instagram: @BaylorTrack.
COMPLETE BAYLOR RESULTS
Q or q = Advanced to Event Final
100 Meters Semifinal
14. Maxwell Willis (FR) - 10.18
200 Meters Semifinal
18. Maxwell Willis (FR) - 20.64
400 Meters Semifinal
7. Wil London (SO) - 45.19q
16. George Caddick (SR) - 45.89
4x100-Meter Relay Semifinal
9. Baylor (Malik Wilson, Wil London, Maxwell Willis, Ian Braxton) - 39.62
4x400-Meter Relay Semifinal
10. Baylor (Chris Platt, Wil London, Caleb Dickson, George Caddick) - 3:04.20