April 14, 2003
WACO, Texas -
Baylor freshman Jeremy Wariner earned both Big 12 and Trackshark Athlete of the Week honors after an outstanding meet on Saturday at Arizona State's Sun Angel Classic.
Wariner was running in the open 400 for the first time since cramping up en route to finishing seventh in the quartermile finals at the NCAA Championships almost a month ago. The freshman from Grand Prairie, Texas was impressive in his first outdoor 400 race, clocking the fastest time in the nation so far this year. With a 45.13, he easily won the first collegiate heat of the race and was the overall 400 champion, defeating World Champion Avard Moncur, who finished second with a time of 45.50 running for Auburn Elite. Wariner's time was the fastest 400 race by a Baylor athlete since Brandon Couts clocked a 44.72 in May of 2000.
"I was really just going out to see where I was at and to see what I need to do in training. I was just trying to run my race to see what I needed to improve on," Wariner said. "I'm still not where I want to be. I have more conditioning and more training to do."
Wariner was not done after the open 400. In the final event of the night, he anchored the men's 4x400 relay. The Bears got a slow start, but Darold Williamson gained ground on the second leg, and Brian McDonald continued to move the Bears closer to the front of the pack in the third leg. Wariner took the baton with the team in third place, significantly behind the leading Arizona State Sun Devils, who had won every men's 4x400 race they had competed in this season. With a blazing split of 43.72, Wariner nearly chalked up the come-from-behind victory, but the Bears finished second with a time of 3:04.68, just shy of the Sun Devils (3:04.44).
"Obviously it was a great opening meet for him to run the open 400 for the first time outdoors," head coach Clyde Hart said. "But, he realizes that he still has some improvement to do in his conditioning. I think that is a compliment to him and to our program."
Both the open and the relay times easily exceeded the NCAA regional qualifying standards. Wariner is the first Baylor track and field athlete to earn either Big 12 or Trachshark honors this season. Fellow freshman Angela Marvin earned conference accolades during cross country season. Barbara Petrahn was the last track and field athlete to earn the conference award, doing so in May of last year.
Wariner and the rest of the Bears will entertain the home crowd this weekend, hosting the Michael Johnson Classic Friday and Saturday, Apr. 18-19. Field events begin at 3:30 p.m. Friday with the pole vault and the hammer throw. The 3,000-meter steeplechase also will be contested on Friday with the women starting at 8 p.m. followed by the men at 8:15. The field events kick off the Saturday action at 9 a.m. with the running prelims scheduled for noon and the finals starting around 6 p.m.