Track and field hosts Baylor Invitational

Aaliyah Miller of Baylor competes in the womens 800 meter run at the 2018 Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships in Ames, Iowa. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics.

By Ben Everett | Sports Writer

Baylor track and field hosts the 2018 Baylor Invitational at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Clyde Hart Track and Field Stadium in Waco.

The men’s and women’s track and field teams will compete against athletes from Abilene Christian, DePaul, Incarnate Word, Minnesota, Oklahoma Baptist, Oral Roberts, Oregon State, Prairie View A&M, Southern Methodist, Texas Southern, North Texas, UT-Arlington and UT San Antonio.

The Bears are coming off of a strong performance at the Texas Relays, garnering five top-three finishes in Austin.

Baylor head coach Todd Harbour said a home meet against quality opponents will make for a good follow up to the Texas Relays.

“This is a good meet for us,” Harbour said. “It’s what we need right now coming off of Texas Relays. There are some good teams coming.”

The Bears return 15 top-three finishers from last year’s event — six on the women’s side and eight on the men’s.

In women’s, junior Kiana Horton (2nd: 100m, 1st: 4x100m relay), junior Taylor Bennett (1st: 200m, 1st: 4x100m relay), sophomore Jhane’ King (3rd: 400m, 1st: 4x100m relay, 1st: 4x400m relay), senior Kiana Hawn (1st: 400m hurdles), sophomore Victoria Powell (1st: 4x400m relay) and junior Megan SaxvanderWeyden (3rd: javelin) all return to defend their placements from last year.

Junior Leticia De Souza, who placed first in two events at the 2017 Baylor Invitational, and sophomore Lindsey Bradley will not participate this year due to injuries.

Harbour said the absences of Bradley and De Souza are a big hit to the team.

“We’re still without Lindsey Bradley and [Leticia De Souza],” Harbour said. “Those are two pretty big ones. Both of them All-Big 12 performers and [De Souza] is All-American. We’re hoping to get [De Souza] back. She’s training right now.”

On the men’s side, sophomore Maxwell Willis (1st: 100m, 2nd: 4x100m relay), senior Malik Wilson (3rd: 200m, 2nd: 4x100m relay), junior Wil London (1st: 400m, 2nd: 4x100m relay), sophomore Devin Meyrer (1st: 3000m), junior Antwuan Musgrove (2nd: 4x100m relay, 3rd: 4x400m relay), junior Caleb Dickson (3rd: 4x400m relay), junior Blaine Listach (3rd: high jump) and junior Ryan Womack (2nd: pole vault) will all compete this year after placing in last year’s event.

Freshman pole vaulter Riley Richards, who grew up in Waco, said being able to compete at Baylor is a dream come true.

“I remember coming to track meets growing up,” Richards said. “Watching the people compete at [Michael Johnson Invitational] and the Baylor Invitational and it’s just so surreal to actually be at the school that I was a fan of growing up.”

Richards, who recorded a college-best 17′ 0.75″ at the Texas Relays in March, said he is confident heading into the Bears’ first home meet.

“I think I’m going to peak at the right time,” Richards said. “I think all of the training that we’ve been doing for the past couple months has really paid off. I feel confident.”

Sophomore runner Aaliyah Miller said competing at home boosts confidence because of the familiarity with the facilities.

“We practice here every single day,” Miller said. “So we kind of know the ins and outs of it. Knowing that it’s your home, you kind of get a little more confidence going into it.”

After the Baylor Invitational, Baylor will host the Michael Johnson Invitational starting at 9 a.m. on April 21 in Waco.