Lindsay Walton is a walk-on wonder

Senior cross country runner Lindsay Walton placed third at the Bear Twilight Invitational to open up the fall on Aug. 30 at the Heart of Texas Soccer Complex in Waco. Walton shaved a minute off her previous Twilight run in 2018 by finishing the 4,000-meter women's race in 13: 36.4. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

Slow and steady wins the race and after walking on to Baylor’s cross country team as a freshman, slow and steady is how Peoria, Ill. senior Lindsay Walton became one of the Bears’ best runners.

Being a walk-on is a difficult journey for any athlete no matter the sport. For Walton it was a “slow progression” to the top, but the senior said she felt she had the potential to improve over time.

“We came in with a lot of super-fast girls and I don’t ever think that I was like gunning for them but I definitely didn’t want to come in as a freshman and just like never improve and never get faster,” Walton said. “Cross country is such a sport where if you put in hard work and you get lucky and you don’t get injured […] you can make a lot of improvement, so I think that I kind of tried to exploit that a little bit.”

Walton ran cross country for two years at Peoria Christian School where she won the individual conference title and was named MVP and captain as a high school senior. She also played soccer for four years, earning the Silver Boot award for having the most assists her last year as a Charger.

Coming to Baylor and joining the cross country team was a whole different monster than running for her high school team. Walton said she did not know what to expect but that she took everything in, learning from it so that she could return the next year better prepared.

After running in four meets in the fall of 2016 and competing in two track meets in the spring of 2017, Walton trained all summer to get better. As a sophomore she raced in five meets, completing her best 5K finish at the Ken Garland Invitational in 23rd place and placing 20th at the TCU Invitational during the 2018 track season.

And still she continued to train that summer and the summer after that.

Associate head coach Jon Capron said that Walton never stops working to improve.

“The coolest part about Lindsay is that […] it’s been just hard work on her end,” Capron said. “We talked by email probably every other week this whole summer, and so when I’m getting that kind of feedback over the summer, I know she’s putting that work in because she wants to talk.”

Every sport has its challenges but for a distance runner with the kind of perseverance that Walton has, staying healthy is the biggest priority. According to Capron “trying hard sometimes is its own worst enemy.” Runners have to know when to set a limit because one bad step could can set them back.

“That’s the biggest thing that they have to go up against in their progression because everybody wants to get better,” Capron said. “Everybody knows how to make that happen but the patience that’s required of it to make it happen over time because if you reach too quickly, it’s a little bit like Icarus. You get a little bit too close to the sun too fast and flame out.”

Walton had suffered a few small injuries here and there but had to deal with a stress reaction last year, missing part of track season. She came back her senior year to open the fall with third-place finishes in the Bear Twilight Invitational and the Texas A&M Invitational but had to sit out the team’s last meet in Arkansas due to illness.

Despite the small hiccups, Walton wants to continue to improve, taking everything that she can control to reach her full potential until she’s satisfied with what she’s achieved. Being a walk-on is difficult in any sport, but Walton said that succeeding requires “drive.”

“I would say that if you really want it, I think doors will open for you. If you put in the effort and work, and if you stay healthy,” Walton said. “Talent definitely has a big impact on it but if you slowly build, I think you’ll reach further than you think you could.”