By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
The second year of the Michael Ford era is underway.
“I take a breath every day and thank God for the group that we have, and just ask God to give me a lot of wisdom and make sure that we push them,” Baylor track and field head coach Michael Ford said. “Because if we have aspirations of being top 15 in the nation team-wise at the end of the year, indoor and outdoor, then we have to push them a little bit more to get them out of those comfort zones.”
After a strong 2022 season, Baylor track and field looks to build on its success and make a run at some national titles. In the opening weekend at the Corky Classic in Lubbock, the Bears recorded nine national qualifying marks. In the second meet of the season, the MLK Invitational, Baylor finished the single-day gather with multiple gold medals and a new program record.
“The biggest thing that we talked about going into it was just giving good effort and just competing,” Ford said. “As coaches, we see them working out every day and we feel good about certain people, how they look in practice, and then when the lights come on people shy away from it, but we stepped up
As added motivation and reward for all of the Bears going out to perform at any given meet, the coaching staff has implemented a new “Performers of the Meet” that comes with a championship style belt.
Junior sprinter Kavia Francis was one of the first to receive this belt after opening up the season with a personal best (23.50) in the 200-meter dash, her time being good enough for fifth in the nation. Francis’ expectations go beyond just her this season, as she said she expects big things from the team as a whole this year and that a top 15 spot is waiting for the team.
“This is a topic that we’ve been talking about…” Francis said. “The team that we have right now is so much better than before. And I’ve been here for three years now. So right now we have a great team, and I think that we can do exceptionally great things this year.”
In his first throw as a Bear, freshman Gary Moore immediately broke the program’s weight throw record with a 63-4 to set the tone for his arrival. The two-time high school state champion said he wants more than just individual success for the season.
“We talked earlier in the season, doing better than we did last year,” Moore said. “I’m kind of new here, so I don’t know the traditions and stuff like that. But I know in high school I had a lot of team success so, I kind of want to bring that here and just contribute as much as I can to us placing well.”
The team continues the fresh season on Jan. 27 with a two-day meet in Fayetteville, Ark., for the Razorback Invitational.