By Savannah Pullin
Once again, Baylor’s track and field athletes proved they can hold their own on a national stage.
The team traveled to New York City to participate in the New Balance Collegiate Invitational at the Armory Track Center over the weekend.
On the first day of competition, the Bears claimed two victories — junior Skylar White in the shot put and freshman Patrick Schoenball in the 1,000-meter race.
White, who already claims the top 10 performances in the shot put in Baylor history, broke her own school record on the first day of competition.
White tossed for 56-10 and automatically qualifies for this year’s NCAA Indoor Championship. She also holds tight to her sixth-place national ranking.
As a native German who has only been in America for a month, Schoenball was introduced to Baylor track in grandiose fashion.
“Seeing New York was amazing for me,” Schoenball said.
When asked about his competition at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational, Schoenball seemed surprised by what he had experienced.
He said the competition was easier than expected.
“I waited the whole time for one guy for pace, but the last lap I think they all fell back except me and Gavyn (Nero),” he said.
Schoenball’s teammate, junior Gavyn Nero, ran hard in the last lap to finish behind Schoenball in second place.
Schoenball won his first 1,000-meter race in a Baylor jersey with a time of 2 minutes, 23.68 seconds, which shot him to the top of the Big 12 standings.
The women’s team proved to be continually spinning out winning athletes when sophomore transfer Erin Atkinson and freshman Rachel Johnson both won their events on Saturday.
Atkinson broke her own school record in the women’s weight throw to win the event.
This is the third meet in a row Atkinson has broken a school record she set. Atkinson threw for a mark of 67- 9, keeping her second in the Big 12 and seventh in the NCAA.
Johnson snatched her second Baylor win in the 3,000-meter run, beating out top runners from Toronto, LSU and Clemson. She finished with a personal best time of 9:28.27, and was followed in fifth place by teammate senior Cate Westenhover.
Overall, head coach Todd Harbour said he is happy with his team’s success, but still wants to see more.
“You always have an area you can improve in,” Harbour said.
Harbour said he and his coaching staff are still trying to get the endurance runners back to their prime.
“We’re not where we want to be as a team, but we’ve got a lot of people stepping up in different meets. Every week someone else is stepping up,” he said.
With the help of their coaches, the athletes continue to improve every week. So what makes the Baylor coach staff so successful?
One hundred and fifteen years of combined experience. Baylor is the only school in the country that has every one of its coaches as a graduate of its program. They all ran track for Baylor, and they all know what it’s like.
“We’ve all been through what these guys have been through, so we know where they’re at and what they’ve got to do. It’s no mystery,” Harbour said.
On Saturday, the team will travel to College Station for the Texas A&M Open, a familiar facility Harbour said he is excited about revisiting.