Oct. 11, 2012
WACO, Texas - In its final race before the Big 12 Championships, the Baylor cross country team will be split between two locations on Saturday.
Seven members of the women's squad will travel to Louisville, Ky., for the NCAA Pre-Nationals Invitational, while nine other women's runners and 15 men's athletes will journey to the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival in Fayetteville, Ark.
The seven-member NCAA Pre-Nationals team of Haleigh Blackwell, Courtney Cox, Kim Kirby, Leah Frazier, Rachel Johnson, Mariah Kelly and Bree Schrader will compete on an eight kilometer course at E.P. `Tom' Sawyer State Park. The race featuring a total of 39 teams will begin at 9:15 a.m.
"We are just trying to get in another solid performance," head coach Todd Harbour said. "It is always nice to get some of the girls some experience on the course where you are going to run the national meet. We are just going to go get after it and compete."
The Baylor women are currently ranked No. 5 in the USTFCCCA's South Central regional rankings and are coming off of a tie for eighth at the Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 29. The Bears are led by sophomore Rachel Johnson, who has paced BU in all three of its races this fall.
"Rachel, Mariah and Bree have been running well," Harbour said. "We just need some help behind them. I think we have some girls that are capable of doing it and they will have an opportunity to show that this weekend."
Saturday's event is a preview for teams to see the course conditions for next month's NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, which will be held at the same location.
At the Chili Pepper Cross Country Festival, the men will compete on a 10,000-meter course at 9:45 a.m., while the women will run at 10:30 a.m. on a 6,000-meter route. It is the same location at which Baylor will compete on Nov. 9 in the NCAA South Central Regional Meet.
The 15-member men's team includes Ben Allen, Jesse Brooks, Matthew Cochran, Matt Galvin, Cameron Gifford, Derwin Graham, Aaron Harbour, JR Hardy, Taylor Jackson, Alex LeRoux, Christopher McElroy, Brad Miles, Kyle Scanlan and Jonathan Tijerina.
"This race will play a big role in who I take to the conference meet," assistant coach Jon Capron said. "The longer distance will help us and the course is fast, which will give our guys some confidence heading to conference."
The men are coming off a 16th-place finish at the Stanford Invitational. Brad Miles has been the top runner for the Bears in two of three races this fall.
The nine other women running at the Chili Pepper event include Kristina Brown, Sarah Guhl, Jenna Henrich, Lauren Hierholzer, Meredith Jackson, Brittany OgunMokun, Ericka Overbeck, Lauren Stevens and Angela Tharpe.
"Three of those girls can go on and run at the Big 12 meet, so this race has a lot of meaning for those battling for those spots," Harbour said.
Following this weekend's meets, the Bears will be off next week before heading to Austin, Texas for the Big 12 Championships on Oct. 27 in Austin, Texas.