Top finishes give Bears wave of momentum
By Lindsay Cash
Baylor’s most outstanding runners from past and present were featured on the home track last weekend at the Michael Johnson Dr Pepper Classic. World-class competitors watched as Baylor athletes and 18 other schools competed at the Hart-Patterson Track and Field Complex.
Baylor rounded up eight wins as an elite crowd of alumni reunited, signed autographs and cheered on the athletes in their footsteps.
Michael Johnson’s presence at the meet was one to be remembered. Johnson stood alongside Olympians Jeremy Wariner, Sanya Richards-Ross, Darold Williamson and Reggie Witherspoon.
“It’s such a neat thing to be a part of such an elite Baylor tradition. There were memories through the decades all meeting in one place,” Coach Todd Harbour said.
Along with the presence of Baylor Legends Raymond Pierre and the women’s 1991 4-x-800-meter relay team, it was a reunion weekend for alumni.
“We had a reunion tent that evening for people to meet with one another. There was actually a good crowd there, despite it being Easter weekend,” Harbour said.
Each of the field event winners set personal bests and moved into the NCAA’s top 10. Walla Walla, Wash., senior Nick Lyons in the javelin broke his record for the second weekend in a row, making that the second best throw in the country. His toss hit 257 feet, 2 inches.
“Nick had good conditions and took advantage of it. He popped out an outstanding throw,” Harbour said.
In the discus, DeSoto sophomore Skylar White was busy moving from 13th to seventh place as she tossed at a career best of 178-3. In the triple jump, El Paso junior Jessica Ubanyionwu moved to sixth in the NCAA with her career-best leap of 43-2.5.
Wind was an intense factor during the field events, but White pushed through the conditions.
“I’m at home. I don’t care about the weather elements,” White said with a smile.
Individually on the track, the men claimed three titles, with career bests from Bartlett, Tenn., junior James Gilreath in the 800 meters and Texas City junior Whitney Prevost in the 200 meters. Repentigny, Quebec, freshman Gabriel El Hanbli joined them in victory lane in the 400-meter hurdles.
Gilreath is tied for 12th-best in the NCAA with a time of 1:48.54. Prevost’s final time was 20.70, with New Orleans junior Woodrow Randall close behind finishing in third place, at 20.80.
El Hanbli finished at 51.05 in the men’s 400-meter hurdles, steadily surging toward the finish. He was the former Canadian national champion in this particular event.
“Our men had really solid performances. With the men now ranked 10th and women 12th in the NCAA, we are in the pool of making the top four. Both teams are closing in on it, and if we keep our goals in front and our people healthy, I really think we’ve got a shot at it,” Harbour said.
For the women, Killeen senior Tiffany Townsend ran her first 200 of the season and placed fourth with a time if 23.25. Kansas City freshman Tiffani McReynolds placed second in the 100-meter hurdles at 13.02 and landed fifth in the 100 meters at 11.37. DeSoto junior Diamond Richardson landed a season-best, placing fourth in the 400 meters at 53.37.
In the women’s 800 meters, Landover, Md., junior Brittany OgunMokun finished third at 2:09.18, followed closely by Littleton, Colo., junior Leigh Ann Ganzar in fourth at 2:10.57.
Harbour’s outlook on the conclusion of the season is positive and upbeat. The team travels to participate in the Drake Relays this weekend. This site is one of Baylor’s most successful performance spots in history, and Harbour and his squad say they are geared to move into the top four by season’s end.