By Ben Everett | Sports Editor
Baylor cross country competes at the Joe Piane Invitational on Friday in Notre Dame, Ind., after taking a three-week break.
The Bears last competed at the UTA Invitational on Sept. 7 in Arlington after opening the season at the Bear Twilight Invitational in Waco on Aug. 31.
Baylor associate head coach Jon Capron said the team is ready to get back to competing against other schools after a three-week hiatus from competition.
“We’ve had a pretty good training block that’s been a little bit of a grind,” Capron said. “They are excited to not be training. I think once they get a sniff of fall, they are going to feel pretty good about their fitness. I don’t know the full forecast, but I know it’s going to be cooler than here. We’re just excited to get somebody else to race other than ourselves, and just ready to compete.”
Thirty-seven schools will be in attendance for the women’s race, with 31 lined up on the men’s side. Competing teams include Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Iowa, LSU, Oklahoma and host Notre Dame, among others.
Sophomore Brooke Gilmore said the Bears are ready to get back to the course and look forward to facing so many schools.
“We’re so ready. We’ve been practicing really hard and coming together as a team,” Gilmore said. “It’s something we look forward to because we get to go out there and compete against really good competition.”
Capron said the way the schedule has turned out, the women’s team has been pit against really good teams.
“The ladies are going to go up against some of the better teams in the country right now,” Capron said. “They’re going to have their hands full, but I think we’re going to be able to hold our own.”
The invitational opens with the blue division women’s 5K at noon and then men’s 5-mile at 12:45 p.m.. The gold division will run at 2:15 and 3 p.m., respectively. The Baylor women will run in the blue division.
Redshirt sophomore Aaliyah Miller was added to the cross country roster this week. A track athlete, Miller last ran a cross country meet in 2016 for the Bears. Capron said Miller has been working on distance running with track head coach Todd Harbour.
“[Aaliyah Miller] has been working with Coach Harbour, mostly,” Capron said. “Based on some of her workouts, we dropped her into a workout Monday and she fit right in. She’s kind of a new addition to our racing roster. She’s been on the cross roster, but she might be a pretty helpful addition when you have a girl that has her ability level and her speed and applying that to a cross country race. As long as she has the fitness, and that’s what Coach Harbour has been working with her on, there’s no telling how much she can help us.”
The Baylor men will compete in the gold division at 3 p.m. on Friday. Capron said the men should be able to hold their own against the bevy of schools competing in the invitational.
“The guys should be in great shape,” Capron said. “They’re going to be in a different division than the ladies are, but I’m really excited about their opportunities to get a little confidence and work amongst a group they should be able to compete really well with.”
Capron said he expects his runners to have a lot of success given the cool Indiana weather.
“From the bottom all the way to the top, I’m looking for everyone to have a personal record-type day,” Capron said. “This course is fast, the cool weather is going to inspire some of us, and I really am expecting great performances.”
The Bears will get a week off following the Joe Piane Invitational before running in the NCAA Pre-Nationals on Oct. 13 in Madison, Wisc.