March 13, 2004
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Baylor sophomore Jeremy Wariner led wire-to-wire to clock a time of 45.39 in the 400 meters, the fastest time in the world this season, then helped the top-ranked 4x400 team to the collegiate record as the Bears claimed two national titles on the final day of competition at the 2004 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships Saturday at Randal Tyson Track Center.
Wariner becomes the first Baylor quarter-miler to win the indoor title since Brandon Couts won gold in 2000, and breaks Couts' old school record of 45.53 set back in 1998. Deon Minor twice won the indoor crown in the 400 in 1992 and 1995. Junior Darold Williamson ran a 45.89, one-tenth of a second off his season-best, to finish fourth behind Wariner, TCU's Jerry Harris (45.52) and Arizona State's Jason Barton (45.56). Wariner and Williamson each earned All-America honors for their performances.
"I was surprised I ran so fast and that I got the world's leading time," Wariner said. "I knew I had to get the lead in the first 200 meters and I had to get to the break before everybody else. The first 200 I felt comfortable, I had to keep up the pace and use my foot speed, and I ended up getting it in the end."
When it appeared the Bears might be upset as they dropped back to third, Williamson ran a clutch anchor leg in the relay, bringing the Bears from well behind then vaulting to the front down the final straightaway. Sophomore Jamen Saziru led off, followed by Wariner and freshman Mark Teter. The Bears' time of 3:03.96 breaks the collegiate and NCAA meet record of 3:04.25 set by Oklahoma in 1997 and the school record of 3:04.46 set by Bayano Kamani, Zsolt Szeglet, Floyd Thompson and Couts in 2000.
It is Baylor's sixth national title in the 4x400 relay and the 20th straight year the relay has earned All-America status. The Bears also won national championships in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1998 and 2002.
Senior Jordan Willmann broke her own school record by scoring 4,033 points to finish eighth and earn All-America honors in the pentathlon. Willmann's best showings were in the shot put, where she had the second-best mark at 12.54 meters (41-1 ?), and in the 800 meters, where she ran the second-fastest time at 2:17.13.
Because they were among the Top 8 Americans in their respective events Friday night, senior Kyle King and juniors April Holliness and Lakadron Ivery earned All-America honors. King finished 13th in the 5,000 meters, Holliness placed 10th in the long jump and Ivery was 10th in the 60 meters.
In the team standings, the men finished tied for sixth with Purdue at 25 points. LSU (44.5) claimed the team title, followed by Arkansas and Florida, which tied for second at 38, Texas (31) and Michigan (28). The Bears tied their highest point total at the indoor championships, when they had 25 to finish 3rd in 1985, and it's their highest finish since placing fourth in 1996.
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