By Maleesa Johnson
The track and field team is hosting its first home meet of the season in the Baylor Quad Invitational today, an all-day outdoor event at the Hart-Patterson Track & Field Complex.
The invitational meet will start at 11 a.m. with running events commencing at 1:30 p.m. The meet concludes at 5:20 this evening with the 4×400-meter relays.
After a successful indoor season, the Bears began their outdoor season last weekend at the TCU Invitational. There, the team claimed twelve titles and recorded multiple personal bests. This weekend, the athletes have an opportunity to take a break from travel and enjoy a meet at their own facility.
“It’s always nice to be at home,” head coach Todd Harbour said. “We’ve always had good performances here. I don’t think we’ve ever walked away from a meet where we felt that it was just bad. We’ve always felt pretty good.”
In the previous years, Baylor typically served as a host for one meet per season. Today’s meet will mark the first of three home meets this season.
“We’re definitely excited to be at home versus traveling somewhere,” Harbour said.
The Baylor Quad Invitational meet will host competitors from North Texas, SFA, TCU, and the women’s squad of SMU. Currently in USTFCCCA [The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association] rankings, the Bears hold 13th place for the women’s team and 28th for the men.
Senior hurdler Christina Holland is first in the nation for the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 59.17 seconds, a time which earned her the title at the TCU meet. However, Holland said that remaining number one is not her main goal. She said she is mainly looking to earn a title at the Big 12 meet.
“I’ve got bigger goals,” Holland said. “I really don’t want to jinx myself, but my goal this season for outdoors and for the Big 12 Championships, for home, for my senior year I would like nothing more than to win the 400 hurdles. I know I have to do a lot to get there. I have to stay focused and can’t get distracted with rankings. I just need to keep pushing myself and trusting my faith.”
Approaching this meet, Baylor’s throwers sit well in the rankings. Junior thrower Erin Atkinson placed first in the hammer throw event with a school-record toss of 63.32m, giving her the second-best mark in the NCAA this season.
Senior thrower Skylar White took top honors in the discus with a throw of 53.44m, which ranks third in the country this season. For the men, sophomore thrower Desmine Hilliard placed third with the second-best mark in school history at 55.51m.
Starting his first season with the Bears well, junior thrower Blake Mayberry placed first in the javelin event with a throw of 63.27m.
Both of Baylor’s 4×400-meter relays earned titles as well last weekend. The women’s relay team consists of sprinters Idia Omogiate, Ashley FieldsFields, Holland, Raena Rhone and is sixth in the nation with a time of 3:41.49. The men’s relay team of sprinters Justin Allen, Isaiah Duke, Joe Barb and Richard Gary is ranked third nationally after running the event in 3:10.06.
Running along current Bear track athletes, former Baylor All-Americans Marcus Boyd, Zwede Hewitt and Jeremy Wariner will also be running this weekend. Last month, Wariner and Boyd took first and second, respectively, at the USA Indoor Championships for the 400-meter event.
After hosting today’s meet, Baylor will travel to Austin next week to participate in the Texas Relays, which begin on March 27.