EUGENE, Ore. - On the second day of the NCAA Championships, the Baylor track and field team had four entries claim qualifying spots in event finals on Thursday at Hayward Field.
For the 34th time in the last 35 years, the Baylor men's 4x400-meter relay team will appear in the finals of the NCAA Championships after finishing second in its heat and automatically qualifying with a season-best time of 3:05.64.
Seeded 22nd out of the 24 teams entering the meet, the quartet of Blake Heriot, TJ Holmes, Drew Seale and George Caddick have the eighth-fastest time going into Saturday's final. Taking the baton in third place, Caddick dropped back to fourth on the final curve before passing two runners down the stretch with an anchor leg of 45.46.
Baylor was perfect in the 200 meters as both of its NCAA participants qualified for the finals. First on the men's side, senior Everett Walker produced a time of 20.64 to win his heat. That mark was fourth-fastest on the day.
For the women, sophomore Ashley Fields was left to sweat out a spot in the finals as she took fourth in the final heat with a time of 23.27. Luckily, Fields' heat was the fastest of the day, giving her the eighth-fastest time and the final qualifying spot. She bested ninth-place finisher Ashton Purvis of Texas A&M by .01 to get the chance to race on Saturday.
After missing out on the finals of the 100-meter dash on Wednesday, Tiffani McReynolds came back to take second in her heat of the 100-hurdles and qualify for Saturday's finals with a time of 13.11. That mark was the seventh fastest time overall for the four-time Indoor All-American, who is searching for her first outdoor honor.
To close out the decathlon competition, senior Henry Vildosola used personal bests in the 110-meter hurdles (15.27) and pole vault (15-5, 4.70 meters) to jump three spots in the overall standings and finish 17th with 7,202 points. That point tally left Vildosola just 70 points away from a 16th-place finish, which would have allowed him to claim second-team All-America honors.
Just as they did on the first day, the Bears had a few near misses.
Baylor women's 4x400-meter team of Alyssa Nichols, Fields, Olicia Williams and Raena Rhone was fourth in the opening heat with a time of 3:33.96 that stood up as the second-fastest non-auto qualifying time until the last heat. Kansas State's third-place time of 3:33.12 was just enough to bump Baylor to ninth overall.
Also failing to advance to the finals were sophomore Bryce Grace in the men's 110-meter hurdles (13th, 13.96) and senior Mariah Kelly in the 1,500 meters (19th, 4:23.63).
McReynolds is a four-time All-American indoors, including three runner-up finishes in the 60-meter hurdles. But this is the first time she's reached the finals at the outdoor meet.
Holmes (400 hurdles, 4x400 relay) is in position to earn a pair of All-America honors as a freshman.
Vildosola posted three career-bests out of the 10 events - the long jump (23-3 ¼), 110-meter hurdles (15.27) and pole vault (15-5) - and the third-best point total in school history (7,202 points)
STAT OF THE DAY
.01 - The difference in time between Baylor's Fields (23.27) and Texas A&M's Ashton Purvis (23.28) to determine the final qualifying spot in the women's 200 meters.
TOP QUOTE #1
"Overall, it was a great day. If we could have just snuck our women's 4x400 relay in there, that would have topped it off." - head coach Todd Harbour on the second day of the NCAA Championships
TOP QUOTE #2
"What do you say about Henry? He was seeded 24th coming in and finished 17th. What a warrior he is, and what a special athlete he's been for our program." - Harbour on senior team captain and decathlete Henry Vildosola
Baylor athletes will return to Hayward Field for the third day of the NCAA Outdoor Championships on Friday. Brianna Richardson will start things off with the triple jump competition at 3:25 p.m. PT (5:25 p.m. CT). Running finals will begin at 4:33 p.m. PT (6:33 p.m. CT) with TJ Holmes in the 400 hurdles.
To stay current on all things Baylor Track, follow the team on Twitter: @BaylorTrack.
COMPLETE BAYLOR RESULTS
Q or q = Advanced to event finals
4. Everett Walker (SR) - 20.64Q
8. Ashley Fields (SO) - 23.27q
19. Mariah Kelly (SR) - 4:23.63
9. Nichols, Fields, Williams, Rhone) - 3:33.96
8. (Heriot, Holmes, Seale, Caddick) - 3:05.64Q
7. Tiffani McReynolds (JR) - 13.11Q
13. Bryce Grace (SO) - 13.96
Decathlon #6 - 110m Hurdles
17. Henry Vildosola (SR) - 15.27 (personal best)
Decathlon #7 - Discus Throw
18. Henry Vildosola (SR) - 120-4 [36.68m]
Decathlon #8 - Pole Vault
9. Henry Vildosola (SR) - 15-05 [4.70m] (personal best)
Decathlon #9 - Javelin Throw
13. Henry Vildosola (SR) - 176-5 [53.78m]
Decathlon #10 - 1500m
7. Henry Vildosola (SR) - 4:39.31
Decathlon Final Standings
17. Henry Vildosola (SR) - 7,202 (third best in school history)