by Marquis Cooley | Reporter
Baylor track and field returned to Waco for a home meet on the Brazos River Saturday for the 2021 Baylor Invitational at the Clyde Hart Track and Field Stadium. Being at home gave the Bears a boost as the team earned multiple first-place finishes and plenty of top-eight finishes throughout the day.
“We’re comfortable here,” junior hurdler Elijah Gifford said. “This is where we train every day, so definitely used to the conditions the facility and just the entire environment of it.”
The meet kicked off with the women’s javelin in which freshman Brooke Botha placed seventh with a throw of 114-01 (34.78m). Freshman Chris Stoudt followed up her performance in the men’s event with a throw of 176-06 (53.80m) to earn him a third-place finish.
Junior Cole Hardan got fourth-place finish in the men’s hammer throw with a throw of 176-09.25 (53.88m), while sophomore Samone Turner finished seventh with a throw of 152-08.25 (46.54m) in the women’s event. Hardan was able to come back and get the win in the men’s shot put with a throw of 59-09 (18.21m).
Freshman Mikayla Deshazer was the runner-up in both the women’s shot put and women’s discus. Deshazer had a throw of 46-10.75 (14.29m) in the shot put and a throw of 174-08 (53.25m) in discus.
In the women’s high jump sophomore Moorea Long and senior Frances Rice were both able to finish top-eight as Rice finished eighth with a jump of 5-03.25 (1.61m) and Long tied for fifth with 5-05.25 (1.66m).
Juniors Caira Pettway and Alex Madlock both put up strong performances in the women’s long jump with Madlock winning the event and earning the eighth spot in school history with a jump of 20-01.5 (6.13m) and Pettway finishing third with a jump of 19-02 (5.84m). Madlock also placed fourth in the women’s 100m with a time of 11.92.
“It was definitely a confidence booster coming back from a minor back injury,” Madlock said. “For like two and a half years I’ve been jumping off my left leg, trying to make my triple jump stronger, and I told my coach I want to switch back to my right because I want to be competitive. We definitely weren’t expecting that 20-footer … it was just a testimonial to kind of trusting the process and just going for something even if you don’t know what you’re capable of.”
In the men’s 100m freshman Kamden Jackson’s time of 10.32 earned him third place while junior Isaiah Cunningham finished sixth.
In the women’s triple jump senior Jacinta Fisher placed seventh with a jump of 38-06.75 (11.75m) while freshman Koi Johnson finished fourth with 40-05.50 (12.33m).
Junior KC Lightfoot continued his dominance in the pole vault picking up another victory, this time with a jump of 18-09.25 (5.72) to set a stadium record. Freshman Ben Conacher placed third with 17-04.50 (5.30m) while in the women’s pole vault, freshman Alex Kubicek placed fifth with 13-01.50 (4.00m).
The Bears dominated in the 1,500-meter race as eight runners from both men’s and women’s placed in the top-eight. Sophomore Celia Holmes led the way in the women’s 1500-meter leading wire to wire to win the event with a time of 4:36.24. Junior Madelaine Johnston finished second while freshman Lily Jacobs and sophomores Sadie Hamrin and Mazie Larsen took fourth through sixth. In the men’s, sophomore Ryan Day took second with a time of 3:55.80, as freshman Kade Hulett and junior Connor Laktasic placed third and fourth.
The wins continued in the hurdles as freshman Ackera Nugent blazed her way to a first-place finish in her 100-meter hurdles debut with a time of 13.23. Junior Kennedy Bailey took third with 13.65 while sophomore Alyssa Miller finished sixth. The 110-meter hurdles was incredibly tight. Freshman Elijah Morris came in third with 14.13 to finish right in front of junior Deshaun Jones who placed fourth with 14.14.
Gifford’s time of 52.70 earned him the victory in the men’s 400-meter hurdles. Morris was able to get third in the event with 53.79.
“With this being my last year running, I just wanted to go and defend the house and do whatever I needed to do to get the win,” Gifford said. “The key word this week was consistency, so we were just trying to follow the race plan and the result ended up in a win, so it was good on all fronts.”
Baylor had three Bears finish top-eight in the men’s 400-meter as well as in the women’s 400-meter. Junior Howard Fields III placed fourth with 46.43. Freshman Hasani Barr finished sixth while senior Ryan Croson came in seventh. On the women’s side freshman Kavia Francis won the event with a time of 53.29 while senior Aaliyah Miller placed third with 53.87. Freshman Mariah Ayers also made the top-eight with a fifth-place finish.
The Bears picked up another win in the women’s 800-meter due to junior Morgan Stewart running a time of 2:10.29 to place first. Freshman Chloe Gangnath finished sixth with Holmes following her in seventh. In the men’s side, freshman Jesse Hernandez finished sixth.
Baylor took the top two spots in the women’s 200-meter as freshman Arria Minor won the event with a time 23.33 and junior Sydney Washington ran 23.63 for second. Junior Demitra Carter finished fourth and freshman Lily Williams came in seventh. On the men’s side, senior Maxwell Willis’ time of 21.06 earned him a fourth-place finish.
The 5,000-meter race ended the individual events for the meet. Jacobs took first place with a time of 17:13.54. Fellow freshman teammate Kate Avery came in eighth. On the men’s side, sophomore Ryan Hodge also placed eighth.
In the relays, Baylor was able to take the top two spots in the women 4x100m as the ‘A’ team of Pettway, Ayers, Washington and Carter won the event with a time of 44.36 and the freshman filled ‘B’ team of Nugent, Minor, Cierra Wash and Francis followed right behind with a time of 45.19 to take second.
The team of Williams, Washington, Ayers, and Minor were able to run a time of 3:38.92 to win the women’s 4×400-meter race. In the men’s side, Baylor ran three teams, all placing in the top-eight. The ‘A’ team of freshman Dillon Bedell, Barr, Croson and Fields III got third place with a time of 3:05.29. The ‘B’ team and ‘C’ team took fourth and seventh to finish off the meet.
Baylor track and field will be back in action on April 16-17, at home once again, to host the Michael Johnson Invitational.