Baylor track and field looks to build momentum at Michael Johnson Invitational

The Michael Johnson Invitational will feature three top 25 squads on the men's side (No. 5 Texas Tech, No. 11 Oklahoma State and No. 20 Baylor), as well as four ranked teams on the women's side (No. 9 Texas Tech, No. 12 Nebraska, No. 12 Oklahoma State and No. 25 Baylor). Lilly Yablon | Photographer

By Tyler White | Sports Writer

Baylor track and field is gearing up to host the Michael Johnson Invitational this weekend. With 22 schools in the home meet, the Bears are using it as an opportunity to prepare for championship season, according to head coach Michael Ford.

Ford said the Michael Johnson Invitational is a great chance for athletes to tune up in their events and prepare for the Big 12 Championship in early May, which is followed by nationals. He said it’s always great to have a strong home crowd for this event, and he said it allows the students to gear up for the most critical time of the year.

“We’ll try to run as much as we can for the locals to see a lot of our student-athletes,” Ford said. “And then also it’s almost like a sad time too, because some of the seniors who haven’t competed — or the ones that have competed a lot — this is technically their last home meet. And so it’s always just good to honor the senior group.”

With so many schools coming to Waco for the meet, Ford said it’s an opportunity for the athletes to compete against a variety of others in their respective events.

“We’ve always had really good competition at our home meet,” Ford said. “And so for us to get 22 schools — it’s probably a little bit more than I would like — but when you have some schools from Texas, then you have some schools from the Midwest and up east that want to come to it, you let them in.”

Despite there being two meets before the Big 12 Championship, Ford said his squad is focused on using the meets to prepare for the final few weeks of the season.

“I think the big thing is just getting mentally ready for conference,” Ford said. “Like I always tell them, you have certain opportunities to compete. If you have two opportunities this weekend, let’s use the two opportunities, because you won’t get them back.”

Junior sprinter Laurenz Colbert said he’s confident going into the home meet. Colbert will run in the 200- and 100-meter dash, as well as being a member of the 4×100 men’s relay team.

Colbert added that the relay team has developed a lot of chemistry and that it is continuing to work hard to drop its time while moving into championship mode.

“I feel like we have a good shot at winning or placing high at conference and even placing really high at nationals,” Colbert said. “I feel like since we’re more developed and we have good chemistry between everybody on the relay team, it just makes us a really good team and better than most, because we have really good communication skills, and we have a real friendship between each one of us.”

Colbert said the relay team is focused on getting closer to the program record, of which he was the opening leg. The 2022 team clocked a time of 38.87 at the Arkansas Regional.

Colbert ran the second leg of this year’s fastest one (39.19), which was set at the Clyde Hart Classic on March 22 in Waco.

Although Ford described this meet as a “tuneup,” Colbert said the group is also focused on remaining consistent.

“Since we’ve been real consistent this whole season with our relay, I feel like this week might be a good week that we could possibly drop faster or run even close to our school record,” Colbert said.

The Michael Johnson Invitational is set to run Friday through Saturday at the Clyde Hart Track and Field Stadium in Waco. The event kicks off with the women’s hammer throw at 11 a.m. on Friday. Saturday’s events will begin at the same time.

The meet will end with the men’s 4×400-meter relay around 4:40 p.m. on Saturday. Ford will honor the senior class at approximately 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.

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.