By Maleesa Johnson
Baylor track and field is sending 10 athletes and one relay alternate to the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., this weekend.
Altogether, the team is scheduled for six events, including three individual women’s events, two individual men’s events and one men’s relay.
On Feb. 23 and 24 at the Big 12 Indoor Championships, 28 members of Baylor track and field earned 39 All-Big 12 honors.
This included two All-Big 12 honors earned by 15 of the competitors for the women’s team, and 19 All-Big 12 accolades earned by 13 of the men.
After a fourth-place finish at the Big 12 Indoor Championships, with a record-setting six event titles for Baylor, the Bears have been buckling down for one of the biggest meets of the season.
“You always want to try to place as high as you can,” head coach Todd Harbour said. “We’ve had a lot of success indoors over the years, a lot of top four finishes. We’re ranked 25th and 27th, so it’s always nice to try to exceed those expectations and exceed your rankings.”
If these athletes perform to the caliber that they have in past NCAA Indoor Championships, it should be a successful meet for Baylor.
Six returning competitors have earned All-America honors previously for this meet, including Justin Allen, Blake Heriot, Drew Seale, Erin Atkinson, Tiffani McReynolds, and Skylar White.
Of those athletes, Atkinson, Seale and McReynolds have made All-American status within the last two seasons.
“I feel good,” Harbour said. “We’ve got a good group, you know, veterans. Skylar [White] has been there before and done it, Erin [Atkinson] was there; they were both All-Americans last year. Blake [Heriot] knows what it’s all about, so we’ve got a good group going. We’ve got some young ones too; this will be Felix [Obi]’s first time.”
After returning from an injury last year, junior hurdler Tiffani McReynolds has had a successful season thus far.
She has the second-best mark in the NCAA for the 60-meter hurdles this season with a time of 8.02. Two weekends ago, she won her third straight Big 12 title and has yet to lose a 60-meter hurdle event this season.
Additionally, McReynolds holds all top ten records for Baylor in this event.
“I feel a lot better practice-wise than I did last week and the week before conference,” McReynolds said.
During her freshman year, McReynolds placed second at the NCAA Indoor Championships. This year, she is going into the event as No. 2 in the nation.
“I’m really excited,” McReynolds said. “Hopefully I can go ahead and take the title this year.”
One of the athletes to earn a title at the past Big 12 Championship was junior sprinter Blake Heriot, who has big hopes for this meet.
He won the 200-meters with career-best time of 20.77, the ninth-fastest mark in school history and the fifth-best in the NCAA this season.
His title earned Baylor its sixth Big 12 Indoor title in the 200-meters and Baylor’s first title in this event since 2009.
“I’ve been so excited this week,” Heriot said. “Hopefully I can get the win and score more points for the team. Those are the things I want to accomplish.”
Additionally, Baylor’s throwers, Atkinson and White, will join the team for this meet with a combined five wins for the season so far. The men’s 4×400-meter relay team also joins the ranks.
Unfortunately, the team will have to compete without senior sprinter Everett Walker due to an injury.
Obi, a triple jumper, is Baylor’s highest-ranking male entering the NCAA Championships.