By: Lindsey Miner
In the 17th-annual Big 12 Cross-Country Championships at the Jimmy Clay Golf Course in Austin, the Baylor men’s and women’s teams placed seventh and eighth respectively.
The men’s team earned its highest finish this weekend since 2004. Junior Brad Miles led the Baylor team with a 44th-place finish, covering the 8,000-meter course in 25:24.1.
The women’s race was highlighted by sophomore Rachel Johnson’s All-Big 12 finish. Johnson had Baylor’s 19th All-Big 12 performance in the 17-year history of the event.
“Rachel did very well,” head coach Todd Harbour said. “She got out quickly and put herself in a good position. Anytime you can be all-conference in this conference, it is outstanding.”
Miles finished Saturday with his best 8,000-meter time this season. In all four of his races this fall, Miles has been the top runner for the Bears. Seniors Taylor Jackson, Blake Niccum and Ben Allen were the next three finishers for Baylor, followed by freshman Kyle Scanlan who topped off the five scoring positions for the men’s team.
Jackson finished in 53rd with a time of 25:59.9. Niccum earned 57th and Allen finished right behind him in 58th. Niccum completed the course in 26:20.0 and Allen a couple paces behind at 26:24.7. Scanlan came in 61stwith a time of 26:36.5.
“It means a lot to me that all my training is paying off and I can be a leader and example for the younger guys on the team,” Miles said.
The Baylor men finished in seventh with 216 points behind Texas Tech’s 154 points. The men placed directly ahead of Kansas State’s 233 point finish.
The seventh place finish for the men was the highest since 2004 and ties for the fourth highest in program history. Oklahoma State won the men’s title for the sixth year in row. Five of Oklahoma State’s runners were within the top 10 finishers, totaling 24 points.
“We haven’t had a meet this season where we’re really pleased with the finish,” Miles said. “The whole team was on the same page at the race and we were beating everyone we needed to beat.”
The women’s team was led by the All-Big 12 performance of Johnson. Johnson completed the 6,000-meter course in 21:17.8 for a 13th-place finish. The last time a Baylor women’s runner finished in the top 15 was in 2009 when Erin Bedell placed eighth.
“I’m just really thankful God gave me this great opportunity to glorify Him,” Johnson said. “As a team, we had some tough injuries during the season and this weekend didn’t finish as high as we would have liked to, but we’ll come back with a lot of motivation.”
Sophomore Mariah Kelly was the next finisher for the women’s team. Kelly finished in 27th with a time of 21:44.0. Fellow sophomore Bree Schrader came in next (22:18.6) in 44th place and senior Leah Frazier also finished in the top 50 with a 49th place finish (22:29.9). The final scoring position for Baylor was filled by sophomore Courtney Cox with a time of 23:26.8 to finish 69th.
The top five Baylor finishers combined for a 183 point total, behind Kansas’ 173 point finish and ahead of Oklahoma’s 229 points. The women of Iowa State took the title for the third straight year with five of theirscoring runners in the top 15, tallying 34 points.
The next event for both Baylor teams is the NCAA South Central Regionals on Nov. 9 in Fayetteville, Ark. The men’s and women’s teams will select their top seven runners to compete with the hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Championships on Nov. 17 in Louisville, Ky.