Track & field prepares for Big 12 Indoor Championship

Baylor freshman Isaiah Cunningham and senior Malik Wilson compete in the 60 meter sprint against Miami and Michigan at the Power Five Invitational in Ann Arbor, Mich. Photo Credit: Baylor Athletics

By Ben Everett | Sports Writer

Baylor track and field heads north for the 2018 Big 12 Indoor Championship today and Saturday in Ames, Iowa.

For the first time ever, the women’s team will go into the meet as defending champions.

Head coach Todd Harbour said he still relishes the championship from last season.

“I’ve gone back and relived some of the moments from last year,” Harbour said. “It was so much fun to experience that with a great staff and great group of young ladies that have worked so hard.”

The women have been ranked as high as No. 12 this season, but because of injuries, currently sit at No. 74.

Injuries to junior sprinters Leticia De Souza and Taylor Bennett as well as sophomore distance runner Lindsey Bradley have put a damper on Baylor’s title hopes.

Harbour said the injuries are part of the sport and the team must compete with who they have.

“You go in with what you got,” Harbour said. “You can’t feel sorry for yourself and you just got to do it. It is what it is.”

The Lady Bears are returning eight All-Big 12 performers from last season, including first place finishers in senior Kiana Hawn and junior Kiana Horton. Hawn and Horton teamed up to take first in the 4×400 meter relay in 2016 with Bennett and then senior Olicia Williams, and with Bennett and De Souza in 2017. Hawn added a first place finish in the 600 yard race in 2017.

In addition to losing three key athletes to injuries, the Lady Bears graduated their top-three field event competitors in Annie Rhodes, Brianna Richardson and Cion Hicks.

Horton said the Lady Bears are approaching the Championship like they can win it all despite being shorthanded.

“We’re going in with confidence that we can definitely do it again,” Horton said. “We lost a lot of seniors last year, but we haven’t let that stop us during the offseason.”

Among the others who placed last year for the Lady Bears are sophomore Alison Andrews-Paul (6th: 800m, 7th: DMR), junior Alex Lord (7th: High Jump), sophomore Aaliyah Miller (4th: 1,000m), sophomore Victoria Powell (7th: DMR), sophomore Gabby Satterlee (7th: DMR) and sophomore Anna West (4th: 3,000m, 7th: 5,000m).

The men, who finished seventh last season in Ames, return six All-Big 12 performers to the event.

Junior Wil London is currently the only Baylor athlete who has qualified for national competition. London has the second highest mark in the Big 12 in the 400m race, having posted a 45.95 at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 10.

London and Harbour said they have not decided if he will compete at the Big 12 Indoor Championship, as he is battling a hamstring injury.

“Right now we’re just taking it easy,” London said. “I’ve already qualified for nationals so we’re just going to chill out now. We’re doing everything we can to make sure I’ll be ready to go [for nationals].”

Other athletes who placed for the Bears last year include junior Caleb Dickson (2nd: 4×400, 5th: 600m), junior Danny Leland (6th: DMR), sophomore TJ Sugg (7th: Mile), sophomore Maxwell Willis (1st: 200m, 2nd: 60m, 2nd, 4x400m) and senior Malik Wilson (6th: 60m).

The Indoor Championship kicks off at 10 a.m. today with the women’s pentathlon and runs through 5:25 p.m on Saturday.