Baylor track and field’s freshman duo vaults way into nationals

Alencia Lentz and Molly Haywood will represent Baylor track and field at the NCAA DI indoor track and field championships in Boston. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Tyler White | Sports Writer

As the track and field indoor season winds down, Baylor prepares to send some of its best athletes to the NCAA Indoor National Championship. In this group, two freshmen have been making a large impact on the team: pole vaulters Alencia Lentz and Molly Haywood.

Throughout the entire season, both freshmen have been going head-to-head in competitions, right on the heels of each other. Since the fall, they have been able to push each other in practice as they compete for better scores.

Brandon Richards, assistant track and field coach and pole vaulters coach, said being able to coach the two athletes has been a blessing. He said after their performance in the Big 12 Championship, they are focusing on making sure they are taking care of themselves and not putting too much stress on their performances.

“Being freshmen, they’re both putting undue pressure on themselves,” Richards said. “So there’s a little bit of that that goes on strategy-wise — just the workouts, learning when to tone them back when they need it.”

After breaking the meet record, tying the program record and taking home the title in the Big 12 Championship, Lentz said it was a surreal experience. She said it was great to show what her training had prepared her for.

“I obviously want to do well even though I am still a freshman, and so it was just like a surreal moment, like being able to actually perform at the meet what I’ve been working on in practice, and it really showed,” Lentz said. “It’s just really fun to go out there and have a good meet.”

Haywood, after placing not far behind Lentz in the Big 12 Championship in third, said she enjoyed being able to go out and represent Baylor. She said it has been great to take the friendly competition in practice and use it to compete at meets, which has enabled her to qualify for nationals.

“I’m super thankful the Lord’s given me this opportunity,” Haywood said. “Just to go to nationals as a freshman — it’s crazy. Doesn’t happen very often, but I’m super excited to go out there and put all the training out there and see how it goes.”

During both practices and meets, Haywood and Lentz push each other to the next level as they try to outperform each other. However, Lentz said they are also each other’s biggest supporters, which gives them a unique dynamic of friendly competition and encouraging support.

“She’s my best friend. We’re roommates. It’s awesome,” Lentz said. “But I also want to beat her, and she knows that, and she knows she wants to beat me. It’s fun getting to have that competition in practice as well as at the meet, but we also both want each other to do well. So I’m rooting for her right after I go, but it’s been really fun just to have that person with me.”

With so many years left, Haywood said she is excited to continue to learn from the coaches and grow in the sport. She said she wants to strive for big goals and taller bars.

“I love the coaches here, so I think just getting to continue to learn from them,” Haywood said. “There’s so many things that I want to be able to learn from them and continue to progress in my vault, so just being able to see it evolve over the years and go out there and clear some really big bars.”

Likewise, Lentz said she wants to continue to refine her technique. She said she wants to remain humble, grow in understanding and show how her training has prepared her.

“Just showing what I can do and trying to stay humble and know I have a lot to learn, and there’s a lot of different techniques that I need to perfect or get close to,” Lentz said. “Just going to coach with the questions I have and just trying to learn as much as I can, because I know that there’s still a lot for me to do in this sport.”

Richards said the two have yet to reach their full potential in the sport. Since they’re just freshmen, he said he’s excited and blessed to continue to work with them and help them strive for more success in the future.

“The next four years are going to be a blast because they’re going to jump so high,” Richards said. “Just have to keep them healthy and keep doing the smart things. They’re going to be Olympians one day.”

Tyler White is a senior Journalism major from Yorba Linda, California, with minors in religion and philosophy. He is most looking forward to developing his writing and reporting craft in the Lariat and to work alongside other writers. As a member of the Baylor Coed Cheer team, he enjoys supporting all Baylor sports. After graduation, he plans on going to grad school and eventually working in publication for the music industry.