By Grace Smith | Broadcast Reporter
On Friday the Baylor cross country teams will head to the Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence, Kan., to compete in the Big 12 Cross Country Championships.
Head coach Jon Capron said the team is racing better than ever. The course will be tough, but with numerous personal records at the Bears last meet in College Station, Capron said he is excited to have “benchmarks within the conference.” Capron’s hope is to have the teams they have already beat put in the rearview mirror and for Baylor to focus only on the teams they haven’t.
“Racing is exciting, because it’s not promised in this season,” Capron said. “Any time we get to travel and put ourselves up against our conference, we’re excited to do it. We’re as excited as ever and as prepared as ever.”
The men’s team will be missing two of their top three runners in junior Ryan Day and Ryan Hodges, but senior Connor Laktasic, junior Cal Johnston, senior Jeremy Meadows, junior Philip Roxas, freshman Zach Zawatski, freshman Jackson Mazzei and sophomore Carson Yarbrough are ready to run.
At each of the two previous meets, Day has been the team’s lead runner and was the runner-up behind Laktasic at the season-opening dual meet. Laktasic said he feels disappointed that his teammates won’t have the opportunity to compete.
“It’s tough seeing them just as a teammate and as a person sacrificing so much and working so hard and then having those opportunities taken away from them,” Laktasic said.
The Bears will have their work cut out for them as they’re set to compete against three USTFCCCA top-30 teams. Capron said there will be teams that will definitely test Baylor on the men’s side.
“The guys’ side is going to be some tough sledding,” Capron said. “I think there are still some teams we can stay ahead of, but there may be some teams that we’ve raced and beaten already that will be a tough challenge without some of the guys that aren’t going to be available.”
The women’s team will be in full force with freshman Lily Jacobs, junior Celia Holmes, senior Sarah Antrich, junior Mazie Larsen, junior Sadie Hamrin, freshman Kendall Mansukhani, freshman Anna Garner, junior Lauren Ammons, sophomore Chloe Gangnath and senior Madelaine Johnston.
“On the ladies’ side, there are some really good teams up top,” Capron said. “We’re going to be fighting for that 5-6 slot.”
The men’s 8K race will begin at 11 a.m., after the women’s 6K which is set for 10 a.m. The big meet will be televised on delay via Big 12 Now on ESPN+. Live results will be provided by Prime Time Timing.