Baylor XC all in for Big 12 Championship

Baylor cross country's women's team performs a Sic'em before their race to hype themselves up. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer

With the championship season right around the corner, Baylor cross country is gearing up to make a run at some top spots. For the first time this season, head coach David Barnett said he is going with the top five for each team for the Big 12 Championship meet Friday in Stillwater, Okla.

Barnett said the most important thing for the team is just running their best race. After that, it’s important to win the “race within the race,” which is about the third, fourth and fifth runners beating those around them to score points. He said the men’s five is decided, but the women’s fifth spot is still up in the air.

“I’ll go with our top five [men], for sure,” Barnett said. “Ryan Hodge will be our top guy, then we’ll have Ryan Day, Drew Snyder, Philip Roxas and Chris Martinez will be going for the men. They’ve been improving every week, and I feel like we can have a really strong top five and go from there on the men’s side … [For women’s] we’re going to be having Ellie Friesen, a grad transfer coming in, she’ll be one of our top runners. We’ll have Lily Jacobs, Celia Holmes, Hayden Gold. And then, our No. 5 runner is kind of up in the air right now. We have a lot of people competing for that spot. So, a little bit more depth on the women’s side, but they’ve been doing really well.”

The top runner on the men’s team is senior Ryan Hodge. In his last race he hit a personal best and finished 13th out of 250 runners. Coming off of a big personal-record, Hodge said he is confident in himself and the team going into this meet. He said he would like for the team to finish in the top five and for himself to be All-Big 12, which requires placing top 15 individually.

“That was kind of a breakthrough performance,” Hodge said on his last race. “I’m super excited just to finally get a big PR. It’s kind of where I thought that I should be, so to finally be able to put that on paper is really motivating. Moving forward, it’s just a lot of confidence. I’m looking forward to it … The team is really excited. We’re coming around really well. I feel some momentum, kind of like peaking for championship season, which is really what we want to do in the sport. Everybody’s excited, from the top down, just to get out there and mix it up with the Big 12.”

In her first season at Baylor, senior Ellie Friesen has become one of the women’s top runners. She finished fourth in a race this season and hit a personal best in her most recent race. She said this is what the team has been training for all season long. Friesen said her personal goal for this race is finishing all conference as well. For the team, she said she would like for them to be towards the front of the middle of the pack.

“It’s definitely what we’ve been training for,” Friesen said. “The whole entire time, we’ve known that the course was going to be at Oklahoma State, so looking forward to that. We have more depth on the women’s side, so the girls have been having to fight for those positions on the conference team. That’s been really good and really intense for our women’s side.”

Barnett said the team is looking good for track season but wants to focus on the upcoming race. He said the team will go all out before getting a break after cross country season, but will be fully ready for track.

“You definitely want to run the race that you’re in,” Barnett said. “That’s kind of a cliche, but it’s very true. So, right now, the best way to have a good track season is to have a good cross country season. So, if we can maximize our efforts in the fall, that’s definitely going to play itself out in the springtime. So, we’ll take a break after cross country and then reset, but right now we’re just trying to maximize for cross country.”