Cross country set to race through the Bear Twilight Invitational

Baylor men's cross country lines up to race against Notre Dame and Colorado on Sept. 29, 2017 in the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind. The Bears open their season with the Bear Twilight Invitational at 7 p.m. Friday in Waco. Photo credit: Courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Adam Gibson | Sports Writer

The Baylor cross country team opens up its season by hosting the Bear Twilight Invitational at 7 p.m. today at the HOT Soccer Complex. The teams competing will be Baylor, University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), Southern Methodist University (SMU), University of North Texas (UNT), Texas State and University of the Incarnate Ward.

The annual invitational is cross country’s version of an exhibition, and the results will not count toward the rest of the season. Rather than running the usual 8K race that they will run the rest of the season, all of the competitors will run a 6K due to the temperature and it being the first race of the year for the teams.

Associate head coach Jon Capron has been working with the team to help them train for this invitational. He said he is looking forward to watching everyone compete in the first meet of the year and seeing where they’re at.

“I’m really excited to let them go,” Capron said. “I’m excited to see what they can do when they’re kind of at full tilt. We’ve been doing a lot of just tempo work and everything just kind of measured and [we] really haven’t let them go, but I’m really excited to see just how fast they can go, truthfully. At least one lap, so we’ll see.”

Two Waco freshmen, Cal Johnston and Celia Holmes, have run the course before and are ready to compete in their first race of the season. Johnston said he’s nervous for the meet, but he knows the route of the race well enough to go quick.

“There’s always nervousness before a race, but yeah especially the first college meet, the nerves are up more than usual,” Johnston said. “That’s [Midway High School’s] home cross country course. I’ve ran it since I was 12, I used to play soccer there. I know it in and out. It’s nice and flat. It’s going to be fast.”

Holmes had similar feelings to Johnston about her first collegiate race, but said she was looking forward to competing at a course near Baylor and that will be a bit different from her high school career.

“I’m nervous, but I’m mostly excited to be running with the team. It’s just going to be such a cool atmosphere and I’m really excited to be joining in,” Holmes said. “It’s definitely bigger than anything I’ve ever run before so I’m mostly just coming in excited to race against incredible competition, getting pushed by the girls on the team. It’s all pretty new to me, but I’m very excited.”

Capron praised the two freshmen for the talent they bring to the squad. He said he can see them helping the team succeed and also being extremely successful in their individual careers.

“They’re for sure ones who can help, and I don’t want to say they’re over-performing because they’re right where I want them and where I expect them to be,” Capron said. “But it’s a tall order to jump straight onto a collegiate team and be in the hunt, and they are right there.”

Last season at the Bear Twilight Invitational, the Bears had a strong outing, finishing with 11 runners in the top 25 of both the men’s and women’s races. The team finished the season at the NCAA South Central Regional Championships on Nov. 10 in College Station where the men placed ninth overall and the women placed third overall.

Going into her first season and having trained with the team for a couple of weeks, Holmes believes the team can do well this season and will encourage each other to finish in the highest spot they can.

“I think our team can do really well place-wise. I think we’ve all been putting in a lot of intentional miles of effort so I’m excited to see,” Holmes said. “I think we can all push each other to get those top places and I think we’re just open to whatever happens.”

Adam Gibson
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