By KJ Burkley | Reporter
The Baylor cross country finished in 7th place at the 2019 Big 12 Championships Saturday morning at Cottonwood Creek Golf Course in Waco.
Junior runners TJ Sugg and Connor Laktasic led the men’s team placing 32nd and 39th respectively. Sugg recorded a sub-25-minute time of 24:55.5 for the 8,000-meter course, seven tenths off from averaging five minutes flat per mile. Following Laktasic, who finished at 25:09.,1 was junior Ryan Day (53rd) punching in at 25:45.0, freshman Ryan Hodge (56th) with 25:55.3 and freshman Cal Johnston (65th) at 26:18.2.
In the women’s 6,000-meter championship race, senior Lindsay Walton took 32nd overall with a time of 21:47.6, averaging 5:50 a mile. Following in pursuit was sophomore Celia Holmes (42nd) running 22:08.8 and senior Gabrielle Satterlee (49th) clocking in at 22:15.1. Junior Sarah Antrich (51st) rounded out the top four, finishing with a time of 22:21.1.
Both teams improved in placing from last year’s Big 12 Championships where the men finished 8th and women 9th overall. But even with beautiful racing conditions and hosting the championships in their backyard, associate head coach Jon Capron felt that both teams didn’t break the ceiling of expectations, but said he was still proud of the performances, especially on the women’s side.
“We did OK, didn’t really exceed expectations too much,” Capron said. “But that said, still some pretty good performances. I thought Lindsay was brave and got up there and got in the mix. If you look at where she was last year to this year, I think she’s probably cut her place in half. Lindsay ran great, Celia ran well, Gabi held on and Sarah, its only her second race of the year but she was in our top five.”
On the men’s side, the Bears ran vigilantly against the fast competition, but top three team finishes by Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Texas proved to be too much for Baylor. Capron emphasized that some of the Bears that ran today might have not been in their prime due to recovery from injury.
“On the guys side, we were a shade off from the pack,” Capron said.” It was a little bit fast for us. They hit their time split, but it was just not enough it get us where we needed to be. We were a little off, because some of those people that you get them back from injury or sickness, it takes a little while to get them all the way back.”
The game plan for the Bears was to turn on the after burners during the second half of the course to catch Big 12 foes near the end, but Laktasic said that the front pack held their own the whole time.
“We knew that they would go out really fast at the start of the race, and the start of this race was downhill which is somewhat unique to this course,” Laktasic said. “So going into that we thought that they would not have as much in the tank the second half of this race and that’s where we would come back and start to do some damage. But they were able to hold it and run well. I just don’t think we anticipated that. So we will have to change some things, go out quicker with them and hold on.”
Baylor’s next appearance will be at the 2019 NCAA South Central Regional Championship in two weeks. Capron believes that the endeavor of Saturday’s race will only benefit both teams as postseason racing swiftly approaches.
“I’m proud of their efforts, proud of their work and putting it out on the line today. We held our own,” Capron said. “We kind of held serve a little bit, but didn’t really over-exceed expectations. I think they know that, but we got another race, and I think regionals is going to set up well to end this season where we want to.”