By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
Baylor cross country underwent a coaching change in the offseason as former track and field and cross country head coach Todd Harbour retired. Baylor decided not to retain associate head coach Jon Capron, which opened the door for Michael Ford to hire David Barnett as the new head coach. After spending four seasons as head coach at Auburn University, Barnett said he is happy to be at Baylor and that being able to work in a school that shares his faith was a big “piece of the puzzle” when choosing Baylor. He shared his hopes to stay at Baylor for a long time.
“People at Baylor, it matters to them. It isn’t a place you go to for four years,” Barnett said. “It’s not a four-year decision, it’s a 40-year decision.”
“It’s been a pretty smooth transition, all things considered,” Barnett said. “It’s been no complaints so far.”
In just his second week of practice, Barnett explained he is still getting settled in because the “timelines are hectic.” Barnett said everyone around him has been very helpful and personable in this transition. He said he appreciates all of his seniors and all of them have been very helpful and “really engaged.”
“I can talk about it, but they have to be the ones actually about it,” Barnett said.
There are high expectations for Barnett and the Baylor cross country team this season. However, personal bests and accolades aren’t Barnett’s biggest priority. Barnett said he is mostly focused on making sure his runners make the most of every opportunity and leave Baylor with no regrets. He said it’s human nature to be okay with being at your best by the end of the season, but he wants his runners to be focused on being at their best everyday and capitalize on every possible opportunity.
“It’s easy to think about the end of the season results,” Barnett said. “But what about today’s practice, or today’s meet? Make the most of every opportunity.”
Barnett has had a lot of success in his career as a cross country coach. His former athletes at Auburn combined for 15 school records, as well as being part of multiple top 10 and top 15 team finishes nationally. His accomplishments bring confidence to the team going into this season. Barnett thinks it will make it easier for his athletes to trust him and his process going forward as it’s not his “first rodeo.”
“He is a really smart coach,” freshman runner Alaina Zamorano said. “I was really impressed with how much he knows.”
“I think he had a really big impact on me,” sophomore runner Chloe Gangnath said. “He made me think ‘Do I want to be good or do I want to be great?’”
Gangnath said everyone on the team has entered this season with open minds and positive attitudes. To her it seems like everyone has the mutual feeling of a “fresh start.” Gangnath said she has confidence in Barnett and that he has been a great leader for them.
“He is giving us all the tools we need to be great, we just have to follow him,” Gangnath said.