EUGENE, Ore. - Fueled by a fifth-place finish by Everett "Tiny" Walker in the 200 meters and Tiffani McReynolds' fourth-place showing in the 100-meter hurdles, the Baylor men's and women's teams both tallied top-15 finishes on Saturday at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The Baylor men had their best showing in six years, scoring 21 points to finish eighth overall in the final team standings and first among the Big 12 teams. It was their 11th-most points ever at the NCAA outdoor meet, and best finish since a tie for seventh with 27 points in 2008.
After failing to score at last year's meet, the women came back to record five All-America performances and tallied 17 points to finish 14th. It was their fourth-highest point total ever, and best finish since tying for 10th with 21 points in 2009.
Earning All-America honors in an individual event for the first time in his career, Walker got out to a blazing start in the men's 200-meter final and tired a little down the home stretch to finish fifth in a career-best time of 20.42. Florida's Dedric Dukes won in a sizzling time of 19.91 that ranks as the fourth-best all-time at the NCAA meet.
Stuck in a tough lane assignment in the inside lane, sophomore Ashley Fields struggled to make up the stagger around the curve and finished seventh in the 200-meter finals in a 23.20 clocking that ranked as her third-best of the season. Texas A&M's Kamaria Brown edged home-team favorite Jenna Prandini of Oregon and the Aggies' Olivia Ekpone in a photo finish in 22.63.
McReynolds, a three-time NCAA runner-up in the indoor 60-meter hurdles, made it to the 100-meter hurdles final at the outdoor meet for the first time in her career. She clipped a couple hurdles, but still ran a wind-aided (2.8 m/s) time of 12.78 to finish fourth.
That was off her school-record time of 12.59, but ranks as the third-fastest in program history. Arkansas State's Sharika Nelvis, the reigning NCAA indoor champion in the 60-meter hurdles, won in 12.52.
In Baylor's final event of the meet, the men's 4x400-meter relay team of Blake Heriot, TJ Holmes, Drew Seale and George Caddick lowered its season-best for the second straight time and finished seventh in 3:04.89. That group was seeded 22nd coming into the NCAA Championships with a time of 3:06.24 and squeezed into the finals for the 34th time in 35 years with a time of 3:05.64.
The freshman duo of Holmes (45.9) and Caddick (45.26) both posted sub-46.0 splits, while Seale and Heriot picked up their sixth and fifth All-America relay honors, respectively.
Texas A&M missed the NCAA meet record by just one hundredth of a second at 2:59.60. In the final team standings, the A&M women edged Texas, 75-66, while Oregon won the men's title with 88 points.
BAYLOR'S FIRST-TEAM ALL-AMERICANS
Men: Trayvon Bromell, freshman (1st, 100 meters); Everett Walker, senior (5th, 200 meters); TJ Holmes, freshman (4th, 400 hurdles, and 7th, 4x400 relay); Blake Heriot, senior (7th, 4x440 relay); Drew Seale, senior (7th, 4x400 relay); George Caddick, freshman (7th, 4x400 relay)
Women: Rachel Johnson, junior (3rd, 3,000 steeplechase); Tiffani McReynolds, redshirt junior (4th, 100-meter hurdles); Brianna Richardson, sophomore (6th, triple jump); Ashley Fields, sophomore (7th, 200 meters); Erin Atkinson, senior (8th, hammer throw)
After scoring a combined three points (all by the men) at last year's NCAA Outdoor Championships, Baylor's men (21) and women (17) scored 38 points at this year's meet. That's the most combined points since tallying 41 (27 by the men, 14 by the women) at the 2008 meet.
Baylor had a total of 11 student-athletes earn All-America honors in nine different events. Freshman TJ Holmes was a two-time All-American, running the second leg on the 4x400 relay and finishing fourth in the 400-meter hurdles on Friday.
A four-time indoor All-American in the 60-meter hurdles, including three runner-up finishes, Tiffani McReynolds earned her first outdoor All-America recognition with her fourth-place showing in the 100-meter hurdles.
Baylor made a dramatic improvement from the NCAA Indoor Championships, where the men and women finished 22nd and 27th, respectively.
STAT OF THE DAY
8 - Baylor's men placed eighth in the final team standings with 21 points, which was their most points and highest finish since 2008 (T-7th, 27 points).
38 - Combined number of points scored by the Baylor men (21) and women (17) after netting just three points total at last year's NCAA Outdoor Championships.
TOP QUOTE #1
"This meet forces you to be absolutely perfect, and I thought we came close. We weren't quite there all the way; had a couple of ninth-place finishes, a couple of relays that could have gotten in. But that's just the way this meet is. It's unforgiving. To be top 10 on the men's side - the No. 1 team from the Big 12 this year - that's outstanding. Our ladies fought hard, battled, just scrapped all the way. It was a big effort from both of our groups."- head coach Todd Harbour on Baylor's top-15 finishes at the NCAA Championships
TOP QUOTE #2
"We've got a great group of seniors. I can't say enough about the leadership that they've given us for four years. We've had a couple of years up here that haven't gone well, so it was good to get back to where we need to be. This is where we expect to be. We were eight points away from being a podium team (top four nationally, so you can do the what-if - the 4x100 relay (not making it to the finals); what if we had (indoor national triple jump champion Felix Obi). But we competed hard, and we've got some outstanding underclassmen coming back next year. That's a good thing." - Harbour on the overall performance at the NCAA Championships
Baylor will send a select group of athletes to the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships June 26-29 in Sacramento, Calif., and the USA Junior Track and Field Championships on July 5-6 in Eugene, Ore.
To stay current on all things Baylor Track, follow the team on Twitter: @BaylorTrack.
COMPLETE BAYLOR RESULTS
5. Everett "Tiny" Walker (SR) - 20.42 (career-best)
7. Ashley Fields (SO) - 23.20
4. Tiffani McReynolds (JR) - 12.78
7. (Heriot, Holmes, Seale, Caddick) - 3:04.89 (season-best)
8. Baylor, 21 points (best point total and finish since 2008
14. Baylor, 17 points (best point total and finish since 2009)