March 1, 2007
Baylor University senior sprinter Reggie Witherspoon (Marietta, Ga.) has earned Big 12 Conference Indoor Performer of the Year honors for the second straight year while Baylor's Nichole Jones (Spring, Texas) earned the league's Indoor Freshman Performer Indoor of the Year award in a vote of conference coaches, the Big 12 office announced today.
"Reggie's (Witherspoon) performance was just amazing," said second-year Baylor track and field coach Todd Harbour. "To win this award in consecutive years in the Big 12 Conference is a pretty significant accomplishment. He's done an amazing job the past two years and we are very proud of what he's accomplished."
Witherspoon becomes the first male in Big 12 Conference history to repeat as Indoor Performer of the Year and the third to win consecutive Indoor High-Point Scorer awards, following Baylor's Brandon Couts (1999 and 2000) and Nebraska's Frank Tolen (2002 and 2003). He won his second consecutive Big 12 indoor 400 title in 45.91, the nation's fastest time in that event this season, to lead a 1-2-3-5 finish by the Bears. Witherspoon then tied the nation's fastest 200 meter time in taking gold for the second straight year with a time of 20.73. It marked the second consecutive year he swept the Big 12 indoor 200 and 400.
With Witherspoon's accomplishment's last weekend in Ames, Iowa, Baylor student-athletes have now taken gold in the men's 400 meters at the Big 12 indoor eight times in the meet's 11-year history, including each of the past four years.
Jones, who graduated a year early from high school to enroll at Baylor in the fall of 2006 and is a 17-year-old, made her first Big 12 Conference meet a memorable one by winning the 1,000 meters in a Baylor- and meet-record time of 2:45.68. She also anchored the Baylor distance medley relay team to a third-place finish.
"Nichole's (Jones) performance was almost as impressive as Reggie's, especially when you consider that she should be a senior in high school," Harbour said. "The 1,000 is a new race for her, but we felt she could run that fast and she did. It is a good distance for Nichole."
Jones is the first female in school history to earn a Big 12 Conference award for indoor track and field success.
Nebraska's Gary Pepin was named Men's Coach of the Year for the eighth time, while Texas A&M's Pat Henry earned his first Big 12 Women's Coach of the Year accolade. Texas Tech's Sally Kipyego claimed Women's Indoor Performer of the Year, while Kansas' Jordan Scott was the men's Freshman Indoor Performer of the Year. All voting was conducted by the Big 12 coaches following the 2007 championship last weekend.
Pepin, in his 27th season as Nebraska's head coach, led the men's team to its eighth victory at the championship meet. Under Pepin's guidance, his men's and women's athletes have combined for 106 individual Big 12 and 18 individual NCAA titles since 2000. He has coached 170 men's conference champions thus far.
After winning 27 team national championships at LSU, Henry started coaching Texas A&M in 2004 and claims his first Big 12 Indoor Coach of the Year honor this season. His team finished 37 points ahead of second-place Texas.
Kipyego earned the individual high-point winner on the women's side with 22.5. She accumulated her points by winning the mile (4:38.18), the 3,000 meter (9:11.41) and for her performance in the distance medley relay (11:18.07), where she ran the final leg and came from behind to win. Both of her individual event times automatically qualified her for NCAA competition.
Scott cleared 5.32 meters in the pole vault and scored 10 points for Kansas. His vault was a NCAA provisional qualifying height.
Baylor will send its women's 4 x 400-meter relay team, as well as four individuals to the Last Chance Meet at Fayetteville, Ark., March 2. Junior Jeremy Jackson (Round Rock, Texas) will qualify for nationals in the 60-meter hurdles while freshman Trey Harts (Lake Charles, La.) hopes to improve his 200 meter provisional qualifying time.
Freshman Danielle Bradley (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and junior Lauren Hagans (Little Rock, Ark.) will both run the 800 meters. The 2007 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships will be held March 9-10 at Fayetteville, Ark.