COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Baylor women's distance medley relay battled to a runner-up finish and Erin Atkinson broke her own weight throw school record to lead Baylor on the first day of action at the Big 12 Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas.
"It was a typical Big 12 Indoor Championships, and we went out there and fought really hard as a team," head coach Todd Harbour said. "We had a lot of great things to happen today. The girls in the DMR did a great job of battling and Erin (Atkinson) had another school record. She did a super job in a great weight throw competition."
In the team races, Baylor is sitting seventh on the women's side and has nine qualifiers to carry over from Friday. The men did not score on the first day, but have 11 qualifiers that earned a spot into Saturday's finals.
For the women, the distance medley relay, Atkinson's weight throw and Jessica Ubanyionwu's long jump each scored points. In the DMR, Cate Westenhover took the 1,200-meter leg out and put BU into the lead. Diamond Richardson and Mariah Kelly followed on the next two legs to keep the Lady Bears in the lead, but Rachel Johnson's good effort on the anchor mile fell just short, ending with a time of 11:21.29.
In the field events, Atkinson broke her own school record for the fourth time this season, unleashing a third-place toss of 68 feet, 4.5 inches to earn her first-career all-Big 12 honors. Ubanyionwu, who had only competed in the long jump a handful of times, set her personal best by more than four inches with a fifth-place leap of 19-3.5.
Baylor had a very efficient day on the track in qualifying, moving 20 of 32 total entries through the preliminary rounds, including nine of 12 in the middle-distance events.
"These Big 12 meets are tough, but we got a bunch qualified for Saturday," Harbour said. "I think we are ready to have a really good day (on Saturday)."
Junior Brittany OgunMokun took the top qualifying spot in the women's 800 meters, coasting to the finish with a time of 2:14.26. Junior Lizzy Whitney will join her in the finals after earning the final qualifying spot with a time of 2:17.60.
Senior Cate Westenhover, the lone mile entrant on either side for Baylor, nearly had a career-best to qualify third-overall. Her time of 4:48.47 was a season best and fell less than two seconds from her career mark.
In the 1,000 meters, Mariah Kelly and Patrick Schoenball will each represent their squads in the finals. Kelly turned in a career-best, and became the fifth-fastest individual in BU history, with a time of 2:49.78. Her time was also the first Baylor women's performance under 2:50 in the event since Erin Bedell in 2006. Schoenball, meanwhile, was rock-solid in his race, qualifying fourth at 2:24.55.
The men's and women's 600-yard races will each have two representatives in the finals. On the women's side, Michelle Nwachukwu ran the seventh-best individual time ever at Baylor of 1:22.14, and Christina Holland won her heat at 1:26.94, to each qualify. For the men, it initially appeared as though only Drew Seale's fifth-place time of 1:10.82 would qualify for BU, but after a disqualification, Joe Barb moved into the eighth spot to qualify at 1:12.93.
In the sprints, two men and two women each earned final berths in multiple events, along with a host of others earning qualifying spots. For the women, Tiffani McReynolds and Christina Holland were each beneficiaries of only an eight-person field in the 60 hurdles and didn't have a preliminary round. McReynolds also qualified eighth in the 60 meters with a time of 7.47 and Holland won her heat of the 600 yards to qualify at 1:26.94.
On the men's side, sophomore Blake Heriot led a trio of both 200-meter and 400-meter qualifiers. The Florida transfer was the third-fastest 400-meter qualifier with a career best of 47.31 and the sixth-fastest 200-meter qualifier with another career best of 21.22.
Junior Everett Walker also qualified for Saturday's finals in two events, running season-bests in both the 60 and 200 meters. He was fourth overall in both races, turning in a 60-meter time of 6.75 and a 200-meter time of 21.12. Both times were the fastest of the year for any of the Baylor men.
Also qualifying in the 200 meters was Zwede Hewitt with a career-best time of 21.19, while Justin Allen and Dennis Scruggs rounded out the trio of 400-meter qualifiers. Allen qualified seventh with a season-best of 47.68, while Scruggs slipped into the eighth spot at a season-best of 47.72. Scruggs' qualifying spot came at the disqualification of Hewitt, who was disqualified for multiple steps on the lane line after turning in what would have been a career-best of 46.98.
"It was disappointing to see some of those guys get disqualified in the 400s, but they came back and ran amazing with Zwede in the 200 and Diamond in the DMR," Harbour said. "I am really proud of the team as a whole today. It is always fun to see the fight that the Big 12 Championships bring out in an athlete."
Baylor will be back on the track at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium at Texas A&M on Saturday. The final day of the Big 12 Indoor Championships will begin at 3 p.m.
Total Qualifiers (20/32)
Cate Westenhover (Mile), Tiffani McReynolds (60m; 60 Hurdles), Christina Holland (600y; 60 Hurdles), Michelle Nwachukwu (600y), Brittany OgunMokun (800m), Lizzy Whitney (800m), Mariah Kelly (1,000m)
Everett Walker (60m; 200m), Woodrow Randall (60m), Drew Seale (600y), Joe Barb (600y), Blake Heriot (200m; 400m), Justin Allen (400m), Dennis Scruggs (400m), Patrick Schoenball (1,000m), Zwede Hewitt (200m)
COMPLETE BAYLOR RESULTS (Q or q = qualified for Saturday's final)
8. Tiffani McReynolds (SO) - 7.47q
19. Justine Charbonnet (SO) - 7.71
20. Idia Omogiate (JR) - 7.74
4. Everett Walker (JR) - 6.75Q (Season best)
8. Woodrow Randall (SR) - 6.81q (Season best)
19. Idia Omogiate (JR) - 25.00
4. Everett Walker (JR) - 21.12q (Season best)
5. Zwede Hewitt (SR) - 21.19q (Career best)
6. Blake Heriot (SO) - 21.22q (Career best)
10. Dennis Scruggs (SR) - 21.65 (Career best)
14. Woodrow Randall (SR) - 21.79
10. Alyssa Nichols (SO) - 55.17 (Season best)
11. Raena Rhone (FR) - 55.27
-- Diamond Richardson (SR) - DQ
3. Blake Heriot (SO) - 47.31Q (Season best)
7. Justin Allen (JR) - 47.68q (Season best)
8. Dennis Scruggs (SR) - 47.72q (Season best)
-- Zwede Hewitt (SR) - DQ
5. Christina Holland (JR) - 1:26.94Q (Won heat)
8. Michelle Nwachukwu (SO) - 1:22.14q (Career best; No. 7 all-time at BU)
5. Drew Seale (JR) - 1:10.82q
8. Joe Barb (JR) - 1:12.93q
9. Philip Raaf (SR) - 1:13.10
7. Mariah Kelly (SO) - 2:49.78q (Career best; No. 5 all-time at BU; First BU woman to break 2:50 since 2006)
4. Patrick Schoenball (FR) - 2:24.55Q
18. Jonathan Tijerina (FR) - 2:30.88
Mile - Women's Prelims
3. Cate Westenhover (SR) - 4:48.47Q (Season best)
Distance Medley Relay
2. Baylor (Westenhover, Richardson, Kelly, Johnson) - 11:21.29
10. Baylor (Tijerina, Raaf, Bostick, Knorr) - 10:09.76