By Marquis Cooley | Reporter
Baylor indoor track & field competed at the 2021 Big 12 Indoor Track & Field Championships on Friday and Saturday at Texas Tech’s Sports Performance Center in Lubbock.
“It was the typical track & field weekend where you have some unbelievable performances and you have some disappointments that end up impacting your team’s championship finish,” head coach Todd Harbour said.
Senior Tuesdi Tidwell and junior KC Lightfoot were able to sweep the pole vault titles. Tidwell recorded a pole vault of 14-4 (4.37m) to win her first-ever conference championship. Lightfoot won his third-consecutive Big 12 indoor pole vault title, setting the conference meet record with a mark of 19-4.25 (5.90m).
“We haven’t ever had two in the pole vault, both men and women, win Big 12 titles,” Harbour said. “Even with all of our history, we’ve never had wins in the same year on both sides. That was big.”
Freshman sprinter Ackera Nugent made history by recording a time of 7.91 in the 60-meter hurdles on Friday to earn a Baylor indoor record and tie the best U20 60-meter hurdles mark in world history. Nugent now holds the top time in the NCAA this season and is tied for eighth in the world. In the finals on Saturday, Nugent ran a time of 7.98 to place second, while senior hurdler Kennedy Bailey finished sixth with a time of 8.33.
“Ackera, obviously – school record, meet record, everything,” Harbour said. “World junior record, as well. What can you say about that one? That was impressive.”
On the men’s side of the event, sophomore hurdler Deshaun Jones, after joining the team in January, won his first Big 12 Championship with a personal-best time of 7.86. Sophomore Elijah Morris took seventh with a time of 8.02.
Freshmen Lily Williams and Chris DuPree both ran personal-bests to place second in the women’s and men’s 600 yards. Williams ran a time of 1:20.88, while DuPree ran a time of 1:08.59.
Junior thrower Cole Hardan broke his own school record in the weight throw with a mark of 61-10.25 (18.85m) to place fifth.
Junior distance runner Celia Holmes took sixth in the women’s mile with a time of 5:04.91, and senior distance runner Mazie Larsen finished eighth in the women’s 1,000 meters with a time of 2:59.99.
Junior high jumper Alyssa Miller put up four personal bests in the pentathlon to earn a fifth-place finish with 3,792 total points. Her performance was the fourth-best pentathlon score in school history. Miller also placed fifth in the women’s high jump with a season-best mark of 5-8.75 (1.75m).
Senior middle distance runner Aaliyah Miller broke the Big 12 meet record in the 800 meter with a time of 2:02.98 to take first place. Miller is the Big 12 record holder for the 800 meter in both indoor and outdoor.
Arria Minor blazed to a third-place finish in the women’s 200 meters after winning heat one with a personal-best time of 23.03. The sophomore from Denver, Colo., scored six points for Baylor while Mariah Ayers followed in fifth place (personal-best 23.54) to add four points.
In the 400 meter, freshman Kavia Francis and sophomore Hasani Barr both ran personal-bests to place fourth. Francis ran a time of 52.86 in the women’s 400 meter, while Barr ran a time of 46.65 in the men’s.
Seniors Sydney Washington, Demitra Carter and Caira Pettway all placed in the women’s 60 meters. Washington placed fourth with a time of 7.47. Carter with a time of 7.57 took seventh, and Caira Pettway finished eighth with a time of 7.61. In the men’s 60 meters, sophomore Kamden Jackson placed fourth with a time of 6.68.
The women’s 4×400-meter relay of Kavia Francis, Arria Minor, Aaliyah Miller and Lily Willams, ran a Big 12-best 3:31.90 to take home the victory.
“To close it off with the 4×4 to run like that, that’s a big four-second drop for them,” Harbour said. “Those ladies ran incredible, all four of them. Arria and Aaliyah, Kavia led off a great leg, passed it off and they were running from the front and then put Lily in the fire and she’s about as tough as there is. It was just a great, great effort.”
The women’s indoor team finished fifth with 93 points while the men’s team tied for eighth with a score of 51.
“It’s tough when you’re looking at team vs. individual performances,” Harbour said. “We had some outstanding performances, but we needed a few more of them. We won’t make excuses, but we’re trying to recover, get a few guys healthy and be the team that we need to be for outdoors.”
Baylor track & field will close the indoor season March 11-13 at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. The Bears are currently slated to take 11 student-athletes to nationals.