|2017 Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championship
Friday-Saturday, Feb. 24-25, 2017
Ames, Iowa | Lied Recreation Center
|Notes | Championship Central | Live Results | Live Video | Heat Sheets|
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Multi Events: 10 a.m.
Field Events: 3 p.m.
Running Events: 3 p.m.
Multi Events: 11 a.m.
Field Events: 12 p.m.
Running Events: 1:30 p.m.
For all the latest updates from the conference championships follow Baylor Track and Field on Twitter @BaylorTrack.
WACO, Texas --Baylor returns 22 All-Big 12 performers to the 2017 Big 12 Indoor Championship hosted by Iowa State at the Lied Recreation Center in Ames, Iowa, including 8 who have won Big 12 Indoor titles.
Heading into the Big 12 Indoor Championship meet, the Bears have 40 event marks (18 men & 22 women) among the top 10 in the conference.
The Bears have five league-leading marks, including Taylor Bennett (200m), Aaliyah Miller (800m), Maggie Montoya (3,000m), women's 4x400-meter relay and Max Willis (60m).
Baylor's women also own 5 second-best conference marks from Leticia De Souza (400m), Lindsey Bradley (5,000m), Annie Rhodes (pole vault), Cion Hicks (shot put) and the distance medley relay.
On the men's side, the Bears have a pair of runner-up league times from Zak Curran (800m) & Rhys Phillips (60H).
The BU women enter the meet ranked No. 7 in the latest USTFCCCA rankings, which is the best of any Big 12 team and ties a program high. Baylor currently would have 7 entries into the NCAA Indoor Championships (Bennett, De Souza, Miller, Rhodes, Hicks and both relays).
Nationally as a team, the men are ranked No. 73. The Bears would currently have just one entry to the NCAA Championships field (Willis).
At last year's Big 12 Indoor meet in Ames, Baylor's women collected two event titles and tallied 69.28 points, while finishing 6th. The men produced one Big 12 crown, placing 8th with 44.5 points.
The Baylor women have now finished in the top four of the team standings in four of the last five years, while the men will look to finish above seventh for the first time since 2013.
Each squad has four athletes that have previously stood on top of the podium at an indoor conference meet, including returning 4x400-meter relay champions George Caddick, Caleb Dickson, Wil London and Brandon Moore for the men and Bennett, Kiana Hawn and Kiana Horton for the women, while Brianna Richardson captured the 2015 triple jump crown, before missing all of last season with injury.
TOP QUOTE #1
"The thing that makes me think we have a realistic shot to win a Big 12 title on the women's side is that we have nine seniors. So we have a very old mature group and we have some young ones that are providing strong firepower. We have a shot at it now we just have to go up there and perform well." - head coach Todd Harbour on the women's team
TOP QUOTE #2
"On the men's side, the guys are working to get a few more qualified for the NCAA meet. Our 4x4 relay got bumped out last week, but we expect them to run well at conference. The men have to take care of their business to get to nationals. They may not have the firepower to challenge for the team title, but we can have a good meet by getting some more bodies to nationals." - Harbour on the men's squad
Live results of the 2017 Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championship can be found at Big12Sports.com. FloTrack will live stream the action. A recap and results can be found at the conclusion of each day of competition at BaylorBears.com. For photos/results and highlights follow @BaylorTrack on Twitter and Instagram.
Quarter-Miler U. Spreading Wings to 800 Meters
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Baylor came by its "Quarter-Miler U." moniker quite honestly, with gold medalists in three straight Olympics, seven individual NCAA champions and another 21 national titles in the 4x400 relay.
Don't look for it to change to "Half-Miler U." anytime soon, but a trio of newcomers in the 800 meters shows that Baylor track and field is spreading its wings in other areas.
Freshman Aaliyah Miller has already broken the school record and ranks fifth nationally with the 2:02.89 time she ran two weeks at the Iowa State Classic, grad transfer Zak Curran ranks second among Big 12 men (1:48.75) and freshman Alison Andrews-Paul is the fifth-ranked woman in the league (2:07.6) going into this weekend's Big 12 Indoor Championship in Ames, Iowa.
"You knew what you were getting," Baylor coach Todd Harbour said of Miller, a silver medalist at last summer's World U20 Championships. "But, to go and do what she's done indoors - she's already improved on what she did last year outdoors - the sky's the limit for her."
Baylor's not completely devoid of tradition in the 800. Olicia Williams was third at the NCAA Indoor Championships just two years ago, while Chris Gowell was a three-time All-American on the men's side. But, this group takes it to another level.
After finishing his undergraduate work at Longborough University in the UK, Curran said it was actually Baylor's 400-meter tradition that caught his eye.
"I wanted to pursue my education a bit further, and hopefully still do track, and I've always wanted to come to the States," said Curran, who won the 800 title at last year's British University Championship and will represent Ireland at next week's European Indoor Championships in Serbia. "I was researching Division I universities with good (400 and 800) programs, and Baylor came up. They wanted me, and I only had one year of eligibility, so I was quite fortunate to come in."
The hardest part for Curran was surviving the Texas heat in the fall, a different training regimen and being so far from home.
"I have my girlfriend back home, and that's probably the hardest thing," he said. "But so far, so good. If I can run a personal best outdoors, I'll be so happy with the move."
Curran has already set a PR indoors, winning his heat at the Iowa State Classic in 1:48.75, a time that ranks 10th all-time at Baylor, second in the Big 12 and 30th nationally. He will be back on the same 300-meter oval for this weekend's meet in Ames.
"We've brought him along a little bit slower," Harbour said of Curran. "I think he's ready to run a really big time. He ran well last week up at Iowa State, but I think his best races are all out in front of him. He's going to have to run 1:47 to win it, but I like his shot at it. He's in great shape and he's healthy."
As Harbour suggested, Miller's early performances haven't been a surprise. She was a five-time state champion at McKinney Boyd High School, winning three straight 800-meter titles and one each in the 400 and 1,600.
But, it was her showing at last summer's USA Junior Championships and the World U20 Championships in Poland that turned heads. She earned a spot on the World team with a second-place finish at the national meet, running a then personal-best time of 2:02.96, and followed that up with a silver medal at the World Championships.
"That was pretty new for me, going out of the country for the first time and racing some of the fastest people around the world," Miller said. "It forced me to grow up a little bit, but I think what I got out of it was pretty nice. This last year was such a big transitional time for me."
It's been a smooth transition, though. Miller won the 800 in back-to-back meets at Texas A&M and then broke Williams' two-year-old indoor school record (2:03.21) with a second-place showing at Iowa State with a time of 2:02.89.
"The race went out so fast, I was getting kind of nervous, but I just tried to stick up with the pack," she said. "Then, when I got to the finish line, I was obviously very dead and tired. And when I saw the time, I was like, `Wow, that's like the times I hit at the peak of the outdoor season.' I was like, `This training is paying off.'''
It helps, of course, that she's training with one of the top freshman half-milers in the country. Andrews-Paul represented New Zealand and made it to the 800-meter semifinals at the World U20 Championships and has a season-best time of 2:07.6.
"She definitely keeps me on my toes," said Andrews-Paul, who also ran the 800-meter leg on the distance medley relay that posted the third-best time in school history and 10th-fastest nationally (11:05.68) at last weekend's meet at Notre Dame. "I think we have a good partnership, because we both understand the journey we're on and that we're on it together and on it as individuals as well. We're here for self-improvement, as well as improvement for the team."
Andrews-Paul said she kept pinching herself at the World Championships.
"To put on the black singlets (for New Zealand) is just something I've been dreaming about since watching the Olympics when I was like 5 years old," she said. "I remember thinking, `I want to be one of them.' To get the chance to put them on and represent your country, it was amazing."
While Baylor should fare well in the 800 meters on both sides, the women's team matched its highest-ever national ranking at No. 7 and has a chance to unseat Texas and win its first-ever conference championship.
"We had a chance this fall and just didn't quite hit on that day," Harbour said of a fifth-place showing at the Big 12 cross country meet. "But, I think this team is a little deeper. The thing that makes me think we have a shot is we have nine seniors. So, we have an old, mature group, and then we've got some good young ones that are providing some energy and pretty strong firepower on the ladies' side."
Other than Miller, Baylor individuals ranked first in the Big 12 in their respective events include sophomore Taylor Bennett in the 200 (23.0), senior Maggie Montoya in the 3,000 meters (9:12.89) and the women's 4x400 relay (3:32.09). Additionally, the Bears have strong scoring potential in the field events with the senior trio of Cion Hicks in the shot put, Annie Rhodes in the pole vault and Brianna Richardson in the triple jump.
"Of the 23 ladies we're taking, they've all been either all-conference or they're ranked in the top eight right now," Harbour said. "That's pretty remarkable. We've never come close to that. That's why it looks like we have a shot if we just perform well."
The Big 12 Indoor Championships begin Friday with multi-events at 10 a.m. and running and field events at 3 p.m. On Saturday, the running event finals start at 1:30 p.m. Live video streaming is available at www.flotrack.com, with up-to-the-minute results at http://results.deltatiming.com.