Young, promising track team bursts into 2012 season

By Savannah Pullin

Last weekend, Baylor track headed to College Station in hopes of continuing Baylor’s athletic success.

That’s exactly what the team did. The Bears brought home seven wins from the Texas A&M Invitational, with six coming from the women.

Everyone on the team wanted to see at what level they were performing with their first meet back from Christmas break.

“I’m always anxious as a coach to see where everyone is at,” head coach Todd Harbour.

He certainly found out just how prepared his athletes are for the upcoming season.

Newcomer Blake Heriot, a sophomore who transferred from Florida, took his first run as a Baylor Bear.

“I wasn’t getting better at Florida, and I wanted to contribute at some team,” Blake said.

Heriot contributed to Baylor immediately when he brought home first place in the men’s 400-meter race with a time of 47.60.

There are many newcomers and transfers this year looking to make an impact on their new team, including freshman Rachel Johnson.

Johnson, a freshman from Plano, made a huge splash when she made her premiere on the track. Johnson ran in the women’s 3,000-meter race and recorded a time of 9:31.60, which ranks her fourth in the NCAA and fifth-best all-time at Baylor.

“It feels really great,” Johnson said. “I know God’s given me a great ability to run and I just want to do it to glorify him.”

In addition to Heriot and Johnson, sophomore Tiffani McReynolds finished first in the women’s 60-meter hurdles and currently ranks fifth in the NCAA with a time of 8.32.

Junior Skylar White now ranks third in the NCAA after she recorded a distance of 54-5 1/2 in the women’s shotput, and Erin Atkinson broke a Baylor school record when she dominated the women’s weight throw with a distance of 59-7 3/4.

Senior Jessica Ubanyionwu took first at the women’s triple jump with a distance of 41-4 1/4.

Harbour said he was very realistic about the situation despite the team’s success.

“We competed very hard, but there are still some things we need to work on,” he said.

One thing that seems to have helped Baylor prepare for this meet, and will surely help to carry them through this season, is the team dynamic.

With so many young athletes, there may be some concern about the relationships between the newcomers and the veterans.

Harbour said it is not an issue.

“They all seem to mesh really well,” he said.

“All the upperclassmen are so nice, and they’re all so sweet and we all support each other,” Johnson said.

Though she is only a freshman, Johnson said she does not feel pressure to validate her ability.

“I don’t feel like I really need to prove myself on the team as much as I feel like I need to be a part of the team and be scoring for them as much as I can and help out the team as much as I can, because all the people on the team work so hard,” Johnson said.

Heriot has the same feelings about the team dynamics out on the track.

“We’re all a family and everybody helps out everybody. Everybody stays on everybody,” Heriot said.

This supportive and encouraging environment may help the team to come together this year and push each other to succeed.

Another encouraging factor for the team comes from being a Baylor athlete during what is being called “The Golden Years” of Baylor Athletics.

“It motivates you to do better because we want to be just as good as football or basketball,” Heriot said.