Two track stars keep Baylor success going

By Savannah Pullin

Rules are made to be broken. The same could be said for records.

The Baylor track program has a strong past. It has presented at least one top 20 performance every year since 1980 and lays claim to 2004 Summer Olympic gold medalist Darold Williamson and world-class track star Michael Johnson.

Sophomore transfer Erin Atkinson and sophomore Hunter Brook both proved last weekend they are ready to fill those shoes. Both Atkinson and Brook broke Baylor school records while competing in Arkansas.

Atkinson threw for 67-6 1/4 in the women’s weight throw. To put that into perspective, the average giraffe is 16-20 feet tall. She essentially threw further than the length of three giraffes laid on top of each other.

The throw was far enough to win the meet and move her into sixth in the NCAA.

It was also enough to shatter a school record to which she already held the title.

Atkinson transferred from Southern Illinois after last season.

“I transferred for a lot of reasons,” Atkinson said. “This is just a better place for me. It’s a better environment.”

Atkinson said a lot has changed since she’s been at Baylor., including her maturity.

“I’ve really grown up and been able to listen to my coaches more,” Atkinson said.

It seems as if head coach Todd Harbour predicted Atkinson’s record-breaking weekend during an interview last week.

“Erin Atkinson’s ready to pop a big weight throw,” Harbour said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what she does.”

Atkinson said she had been training hard, but did not have any special expectations.

“I knew I threw it far, but I didn’t know how far. I can’t really convert meters into feet in my head,” Atkinson said.

Like Atkinson, Brook also broke a record that he held beforehand. Brook had broken the school heptathlon record early last season, but it was broken by sophomore teammate Henry Vildosola.

Brook reclaimed the Baylor heptathlon record with a score of 4,944 points, a 322-point improvement on Vildosola’s record.

During a heptathlon, Brook competes in seven events, including the 60-meter spring, long jump, high jump, 1,000-meter run, and other events.

Brook, a Houston native, finished in 18th place in the heptathlon last season at the Big 12 Championship.

In high school, he competed in multiple events, including hurdles, jumps and running, but he did not start competing in the heptathlon until he came to Baylor.

Brook’s calm and confident demeanor with the media seemed to match perfectly with his competitive strategy.

“I just went up there wanting to do exactly what we did in practice,” Brook said.

Like Atkinson, he looked at this meet like every other competition.

He said he went out there ready to perform and do his best, not even thinking about breaking a record.

To prepare for the meet, Brook said started going to bed early, eating right, and really thinking about the meet and the benefits he could bring to his team.

He also prayed multiple times throughout the week and before the competition.

Brook’s strategy for competing is simple. He takes one event at a time and focuses solely on that performance.

“Once you start thinking about it, that’s when you start messing up,” said Brook. “The hardest thing to do is to forget about the event you just did.”

Brook said he did not look at the points total at all throughout the entire meet.

“I was just excited to be done with it more than anything, especially after the 1,000. It was tough,” Brook said.

When he found out he had broken a Baylor record, he said he was pretty excited and shocked, but still wanted to do better.

“You can’t have a perfect meet.”