Cross country cruising along

Baylor’s junior Eric Anderson competes during the Baylor Twilight Invitational at the HOT Soccer Complex in Waco on September 1, 2015. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Baylor Athletics

Jordan Smith | Sports Writer

The Baylor men’s and women’s cross country teams are looking to take the glory in their next meet as they travel to Fayetteville, Ark., for the NCAA South Central Region Championship on Friday.

Baylor women’s cross country team finished fifth at the 21st-annual Big 12 Cross Country Championship Saturday in Lubbock. The Baylor men finished seventh at the Rawls Golf Course at Texas Tech.

Senior distance runner Peyton Thomas said the team is ready to put the last meet behind them and get the next meet underway. It’s talking about the whole team and their performance at the conference meet.

“I think that was just a really rough race for everyone, and regionals being in Arkansas will be really fun. It’s a great course, and I think we are all just really excited to race fast, and we have all put conference behind us. It just wasn’t a great race,” Thomas said.

Thomas said the course conditions will be in their favor, as opposed to their last meet.

“I think we will run really well there. There are not too many curves or turns or anything to worry about to where it will affect a change in speed, a change in pace much, and it’s great because you can see where your opponents are really well,” Thomas said.

Some Bears did well, however, in the conference meet, junior distance runner Eric Anderson led the way for the team with a 31st place finish in 26:31.4. Anderson is confident that, with the next meet, his team can get back up in the rankings and get into the top four in the nation.

“The rankings are just kind of subjective until you put it all out there. Running can be difficult to see where everybody is if you haven’t run against each other yet,” Anderson said. “So, I feel like we will be ready to bounce back, and we will just prove that ranking may be a little bit off. We are trying to get in that four or five position for regionals, and if somebody slips up, perhaps we can jump in that second spot at nationals.”

Baylor Bears women’s cross country head coach Todd Harbour said it is important to focus, especially for this regional meet coming up.

“We have got to run smart,” Harbour said. “After running not so smart at conference, we just got out of our race, and we have got to get back to ‘Ladies you are gonna have to run smarter. If you do, we are ok.’ Arkansas is not that better than us,.”

Harbour wants to go full force, but does not want to risk injuring his players or taking away the energy they will need for nationals.

“We would go after them and try to win the region. It would be fun, but I don’t think it’s worth it to run too hard at regionals – and with some of the girls that I have got, this is a young group,” Harbour said. “They are not an old, veteran team that has been through a lot of battles and running regionals and nationals. They are ready for them. Mentally, they know what they can do.”

Baylor looks to dominate and rank as high as possible at the NCAA South Central Region Championship this Friday in Fayetteville, Ark. Start time is set for 10 a.m.