By Lindsey Miner
The Baylor cross-country team opened the season this past Friday night, Aug. 31, at the Bear Twilight Invitational in Waco.
The women claimed a first-place victory, and the men earned second.
Competing against Baylor were cross-country teams from Angelo State, Dallas Baptist, Tarleton State, TCU, Texas A&M and the SMU women.
Sophomore Rachel Johnson earned the top spot in the women’s 4,000-meter race with a time of 13:28, 12 seconds ahead of second place.
Three other Lady Bears finished in the top 10, sophomores Erin Hegarty and Bree Schrader. Hegarty took fourth overall with a time of 13:58.8 and Schrader got fifth at 13:59.6, giving the women a team score of 38 points.
Johnson, Schrader and Hegarty finished relatively close to their positions last year, but all beat their own individual times from the previous Bear Invitational.
Junior Mariah Kelly was the fourth-fastest Lady Bear and came in ninth overall with a finish of 14 minutes, 9 seconds.
Sophomore Karlee Kleiber was the final addition to the Baylor top five women with a 19th-place finish and a time of 14 minutes, 45 seconds.
“Rachel ran a really smart race,” Baylor cross-country head coach Todd Harbour said. “The game plan was to go out and respect this heat a little bit and not get over your head early. She looked like she had a lot left and she still ran a really good time. That’s one of the fastest 4K’s I can remember us running. To do that and still look pretty easy, that’s a good sign for her.”
Tuesday afternoon Johnson claimed the first Big 12 runner of the week award for the 2012 season.
This conference recognition has not been given to a Baylor woman since 2008.
On the men’s side, junior Brad Miles finished in fourth place in 19:00 in the 6,000-meter race.
Two additional Baylor men joined Miles in the top eight, giving the men a team score of 38 points and a second-place finish behind Texas A&M’s 37 team points.
Junior Ben Allen and sophomore Matt Galvin joined Miles in the top eight overall times. Allen finished in seventh at 19:08.6, and Galvin placed eighth with a time of 19:09.8.
“I think I ran really well considering this summer and training,” Miles said. “Our guys looked solid today and everyone else is really pleased with how they did.”
Assistant head coach Jon Capron, who primarily handles the men’s team, attributed their success to off-season training.
“This is all about them being dedicated and diligent over the summer. I’m really proud of where they ended up,” Capron said.
Both Baylor men and women will compete next weekend at the UTA Season Opener on Saturday in Arlington.
The Baylor men return to Arlington as defending champions.
Last year, Miles took top honor, winning by 14 seconds.