By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
Baylor track and field hosted its final home meet of the season with the Michael Johnson Invitational Friday and Saturday at the Clyde Hart Track and Field Stadium in Waco. The two-day meet brought a few Baylor legends back and showed off some current Bears as well.
The big story going into the meet was surrounding the men’s 4×400-meter relay group of sprinters. The event has consistently been one the green and gold perform well in, and this year’s group has been pushing the limits of greatness.
“You feel the energy out here, especially with the relay, just the way it ended today,” former Bear Jeremy Wariner said. “A few years ago, we were finishing second, third or fourth in the relay. … They’re getting the relay back to where it used to be. I think they’ll be able to go sub-3:00 for the first time for us. This group can do it.”
The group hit 3:00.61 earlier in the season, just shy of the school record, 3:00.04. Consisting of sprinters senior Hasani Barr, sophomore Nathaniel Ezekiel, graduate student Matthew Moorer and junior Dillon Bedell, the pairing came close again Saturday, running a 3:01.55, which was nough to win their event but not quite for the record.
“We wanted the record,” Bedell, who ran in the anchor position, said. “This race showed that we can run with people and we know how to win when it matters. It’s not always about time. This is quarter-mile U, to learn from these legends here, we said before the race, ‘We’re not losing, we’re definitely not going to lose in front of the legends.’”
The women’s 4×400 group almost did the same, but placed second in their event. Junior hurlder Gontse Morake, sophomore sprinter Imaobong Uko, sophomore sprinter and hurdler Jasmine Gryne and senior sprinter Mariah Ayers ran a season-best 3:29.75. Individually, Uko won the women’s 400, beating out Adidas pro Shiann Salmon, on the way to another season best with a 51.66.
Sophomore thrower Prosper Nnamdi also took home gold in men’s javelin, throwing for 254-3 to win his event. Freshman thrower Makayla Long hit two new personal records in the hammer throw and the shot put, where she took third place with a 52-3¾.
Senior jumper Koi Johnson, on her birthday, took fourth in the women’s long jump, and won silver in the women’s triple jump with a 43-0½.
Graduate student distance runner Noah Monroy was the first Bear to take first in their event on Friday when he took gold after a 14:28.91 5,000 meter race.
Up next, the Bears hit the road for the LSU Invitational in Baton Rouge, La., for their last meet of the regular season.