Baylor cross country closes out season with 11th and 17th finishes.

Freshman runner Taylor Whitfield competes in the NCAA South Central Regional on Nov. 12 at Cottonwood Creek Golf Course in Waco. Whitfield placed 52nd as she returned to action after missing almost a month due to injury and illness. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer

Baylor closed out their cross country season on home turf Friday with 11th and 17th teams finishes for the women and men.

Sophomore runner Lily Jacobs once again led the women’s team, finishing 50th in the 6k with a time of 22:19.9. Freshman runner Taylor Whitfield, returning to action after missing almost a month due to injury and illness, ran a 22:14.8, following Jacobs in 52nd. Not far behind them was senior runner Ellie Friesen who came in 60th with a time of 22:29.6. The women’s team scored 300 total points in their 11th-place finish.

“I can’t say I felt great,” Jacobs said. “It definitely was improvement from conference. I think we were all wanting to bounce back. It was kind of a hot day, overall, but it was fun to be at home. And I think it was a good way to end the season. It wasn’t horrible, I think it could have been a little more aggressive. But, all credit goes to Taylor (Whitfield), our second runner. She was out for about a month and had the race of her life today. So, super proud of her.”

Senior runner Ryan Hodge finished highest among all Baylor runners, and placed his highest ever in regionals, coming in 34th with a time of 32:06.9 in the 10K. Senior runners Philip Roxas (32:58.3 and personal best) and Ryan Day (33:22.5) came later with a 64th and 82nd-place finishes. In their 17th-place finish, the men scored a total of 389 points.

“After the [Texas] A&M meet when I broke 24 [minutes], that really put it on my mind that I belong up here,” Hodge said. “To be able to have that in my mind and continue going into this meet, that was my motivation, ‘I do belong up here.’ Once again, when it’s a 10K, that extra 2K really does play a factor. I do think with time it’ll come.”

Head coach David Barnett said the team is now looking forward to track season where he can see multiple runners making an impact.

“A lot of these guys aren’t going to be 5K or 10K guys on the track,” Barnett said. “I’ve seen a lot of development this fall from a mental standpoint, especially on the men’s team. They’ve been working towards big things. The women are going to have some track athletes as well, but on the men’s side our top-3 are all going to be able to score points on the track. I can already see it coming together for people on the track. I’m looking forward to that.”