April 8, 2017
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
"I've been telling people this week I was going to break it, so I had to go by the school record board to make sure I knew exactly what it was," said Hicks, emphasizing the word "was."
Throwing before a crowd of 1,285 in Saturday's Baylor Invitational at the Clyde Hart Track & Field Stadium, the senior uncorked a school-record throw of 56 feet, 9 ¼ inches - easily topping the six-year-old school record of 56-3 ¾ set by White.
"She set the bar really high," Hicks said of White. "I've just been working really hard, buckling down, basically throughout all four of my years. But this year specifically, just to make sure that anything I do I execute it well. And it paid off with that big throw. I had a bigger one, but I'm nosy and I fouled it on accident. It was about 17.5 (meters). But hey, that means there's more in the tank. It was just a blessing today."
With winds gusting up to 34 mph, the conditions weren't the best for any of the 15 teams competing at Saturday's meet.
But, it didn't keep Baylor from winning seven other event titles and posting six runner-up finishes in the first of the Bears' two home meets. They will host the Michael Johnson Invitational April 22, with a field that includes Notre Dame, Miami and all the top programs in Texas.
"This was a great crowd today. I can't even imagine what we're going to have for the Michael Johnson in two weeks," coach Todd Harbour said. "The wind is a friend to some and it's not to others. That's how you have to look at track and field. Overall, it's `Did you get better as a team this week? Did you accomplish some things? Did your athletes compete hard? I thought they did a great job."
While Hicks' school-record shot put highlighted Saturday's results, freshman All-American sprinter Maxwell Willis wowed the crowd with an eye-popping time of 10.08 to win the 100 meters.
Fifth in the 200 at last month's NCAA Indoor Championships, Willis had the "best start I've ever had" in Saturday's final heat of the 100 and easily beat Arkansas junior Kenzo Cotton. A seven-time All-American, Cotton placed in both the 60 and 200 at the NCAA Indoors.
"When I first came out here, I didn't really want to run 100 percent," Willis said, "because I knew if (the wind reading was not legal), then it was pointless. So, when I got over here, I was just like, clear everything out of my head, it's time to work. I just cleared my mind, said a little prayer and I showed out." In the previous heat, when junior Malik Wilson clocked a personal-best time of 10.23, the wind reading was a blustery 5.0 m/s. But, it calmed down enough for Willis' time to be wind-legal (2.9 m/s) and the third-fastest in the country this year.
"That 10.08, that was fast," Harbour said. "And it was a two-point (wind), so he's got a nice legal mark there."
A year ago, then-Baylor freshman Wil London came up just short in a duel with former Olympic gold medalist Jeremy Wariner, finishing second in the 400 meters.
While Wariner failed to finish his heat this time, stopping midway through the final curve, London captured his first Baylor Invitational title with a personal-best time of 45.46 despite running into a strong headwind over the last 100 meters. His time ranks second in the nation, while senior George Caddick closed strong for a personal-best and runner-up time of 45.80 that's the fifth-best.
Ranked in the top five nationally on both the men's and women's sides, Arkansas ate into Baylor's typical domination of its home meet with eight event titles for the men and 13 overall.
That included a 1-2 finish by twins Alexis and Victoria Weeks in the pole vault with stadium-record vaults of 14-8 ¼. Baylor senior and NCAA Indoor runner-up Annie Rhodes tied for fourth with a best clearance of 13-6 ½.
It was Bennett's second straight year to win the 200, with the sophomore sprinter posting a season-best time of 22.76 that ranks fifth nationally.
Because of the windy conditions, Bennett said, "This is a day where I just wanted to focus on some main things. One, because it's so windy; and two, because the competition. It was good but it wasn't what I'm really used to it. So, I knew I had to just focus on the things that I really wanted to work on."
Bennett also ran on the 4x100 relay with Kiana Horton, Leticia De Souza and Jhane' King that posted a winning time of 44.32. The men's 4x100 relay crew of Wilson, London, Antwuan Musgrove and Willis had some bobbled exchanges but still finished second in 39.45 behind an Arkansas team that finished third in the nation last year.
The mark of consistency, Hawn has had three straight 400-meter hurdle races under 58 seconds, running a 57.45 on Saturday despite battling strong headwinds at the finish.
Hicks added a runner-up finish in the discus with a toss of 163-6, joining a list of silver medalists that included Horton in the 100 (11.49), De Souza in the 400 (52.86), Ryan Womack in the men's pole vault (17-0) and the women's 4x400 relay (3:37.50).
WACO, Texas - Baylor track and field athletes recorded eight event wins at the Baylor Invitational Saturday inside Clyde Hart Track & Field Stadium.
In the meet's third-year at the state-of-art-facility on the Brazos River, the Bears battled 14 other teams in front of 1,285 fans on a windy day.
Senior Cion Hicks starred for BU as she set the school record in the shot put with a heave of 56-9.25 [17.30m]. The Copperas Cove, product fouled on her first attempt and then popped the BU and stadium record throw on her second toss. Hicks' mark is fourth-best in the NCAA for 2017. She improved on her personal best mark of 56-1 [17.09m], which she set at the 2016 Big 12 Championship, while bettering the school record mark (56-3.75 [17.16m]) of Skylar White from 2011.Hicks also finished second in the discus later in the day with a best throw of 163-6 [49.85m].
After coming up just short in last year's 400-meter race at the meet, Wil London left no doubt in racing to the 2017 quartermile crown in 45.46. The sophomore controlled the race through the opening 200 meters and then held off teammate George Caddick as the pair ran into a strong headwind over the final 100 meters. Caddick, a senior, still carded a personal-best time of 45.80 en route to a runner-up finish. London's time is second-best in the country, while Caddick's is fifth.
Freshman Maxwell Willis wowed the crowd with a time of 10.08 to win the 100-meter dash. Willis' time was a personal best and third-fastest in the country currently with the wind a legal 2.9 m/s.
For a second-straight year, Taylor Bennett won the Baylor Invitational 200-meter crown. The sophomore Bear blazed down the back stretch to finish in 22.76, which was a season-best time and the fifth-fastest in the NCAA for 2017.
Matt League carded a victory in the 1,500 meters with a personal-best mark of 3:54.42. Kiana Hawn upped her streak to three-straight races in which she has run under 58 seconds as she won the 400-meter hurdles in 57.45.
In the first event contested on the day, multi-event athlete Chase Hood captured the javelin title with a personal-best throw of 200-2 [61.02m].
Baylor also had numerous runner-up finishes on the day, including Kiana Horton in the 100 meters with a time of 11.49, Letica De Souza in the 400 meters (52.86) and Ryan Womack in the pole vault with a best clearance of 17-0 [5.18m].
Despite a difficult first handoff, the men's 4x100-meter relay of Malik Wilson, Wil London, Antwuan Musgrove and Maxwell Willis finished second in 39.45.
The women's 4x400-meter relay of Victoria Powell, Jhane' King, Rachel Toliver and Leticia De Souza clocked a time of 3:37.50 to finish second.
TOP QUOTE #1
"We always try to improve. Sometimes improvement is in one event area. Sometimes it's in another. The wind is a friend to some and it's not to others. That's how you kind of have to look at track and field. Overall, it's, `Did you get better as a team this week? Did you accomplish some things? Did your athletes compete hard?' I thought they did a great job." - head coach Todd Harbour on the meet