By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
After a seventh-place finish in the Big 12 Cross Country Championships, the Baylor cross country team traveled back to Arkansas Wednesday to prepare for the NCAA South Central Regional Championship which will be hosted by the University of Arkansas at Agri Park on Friday morning.
The Bears look to improve after a tough Big 12 race which they hosted at Cottonwood Creek Golf Course on Nov. 2. and head coach Jon Capron hopes his team can take a step back up.
“This is a much bigger meet,” Capron said. “They’re going to have to move through those packs and get out a little quicker and not be intimidated by the fact that there are people in front of them and use that as motivation.”
With the women’s team already ranked eighth regionally, the men’s team will work towards earning a ranking this weekend as well. With an extra two kilometers to push through, Capron said he hopes the men can get out there quickly enough not to miss the main group but also conservatively enough that they can endure the length of the race.
“If you get out too fast, it’s hard because it’s just this never-ending onslaught of people coming past you and that’s really hard mentally.,” Capron said. “And that’s why I’m really encouraging them to get out a little bit aggressively but also intelligently.”
The team will also hope to pack up as they run in order to push each other and hold each other accountable throughout the race. Having already run the course at Chile Pepper, freshman Ryan Hodge said the extra 2,000 will play into the Bears’ strategy for regionals.
“I think we’re prepared for it, and we definitely have to see it coming, so when we pass the eight [kilometer mark] we know we don’t want to be totally gassed like we would normally be in a race,” Hodge said.
The women’s team will look to break into the top 25 as well. They will have a “little less traffic” ahead of them according to Capron. He said that senior Lindsay Walton, sophomore Celia Holmes, senior Gabby Satterlee and junior Sarah Antrich all have a good chance at finishing in good scoring positions.
Holmes, who led the women at Chile Pepper and finished 42nd in the conference meet, said she will have to be faster out of the gate.
“I need to get out a little bit quicker in my race,” Holmes said. “I’m going to run uncomfortably the while time which is not something that I normally do. My goal is to just get out hard and keep moving through the pack and vacuum up as many girls as I can throughout the run.”
Baylor will compete in the regional meet Friday with the women running at 11 a.m. and the men’s race beginning at noon. Fans can follow the race through FlashResults.com.