Oct. 27, 2000
BOULDER, Colo. -
Ranked sixth in each of the respective regional polls, Baylor's men's and women's cross country teams will compete here Saturday in the Big 12 Conference Championships hosted by the University of Colorado.
Three nationally ranked teams will headline the field in both races. On the men's side, No. 1 Colorado looks to be the favorite. The Buffaloes have won every Big 12 title in the conference's four-year existence. Oklahoma State will give Colorado a run for their money, though, the Cowboys enter ranked 11th. Nebraska carries a ranking of No. 23, while Texas is receiving votes.
As for the women, Colorado is the highest ranked team at No. 5, but ninth-ranked Kansas State should give CU a test. No. 21 Texas A&M could make waves, as well. There will be a change in the women's race this season as the distance jumps from 5,000 meters to 6,000.
Baylor enters looking to improve on last season's performances, the men finished 11th and the women placed seventh in 1999.
"On the men's side, we're hoping to drastically improve over last year's performance," first-year Baylor head coach Todd Harbour said. "We were 11th the past two seasons and we feel we can definitely do better than that. We're shooting for top six, but we know we will have to run well to do that."
Sophomore Ferenc Bekesi should be the Bear to watch in the 8,000-meter race. The Budapest, Hungary, native finished 19th at the 1999 championships. Alex Adler, Jon Capron, Matt Chance, Josh Ward, Bill Thomas, Aaron Ward and Blair Mathews will join Bekesi to represent the Bears.
"Obviously, Ferenc will be our top force, and it could be anyone of the other guys behind him," Harbour said. "We've really had several guys running in that No. 2 spot, so we could see just about anyone step up in that role."
For the women, junior Kara Newton has been a force all season. Earlier in the month, she was named Big 12 Runner of the Week after capturing the North Texas Invitational. Newton is Baylor's top returning runner from last year's championships, she finished 26th.
"We were seventh last year and we're going to have to run very well to do better than that," Harbour said. "We're probably only going to run six, and the maximum you can run is nine, we just don't have the depth right now. But we're positive. Our women are running well right now and a lot can happen at a meet like this."
Stephanie Bennett, Leah Marbach, Kim Cook, Erin Dixon and Megan McCoin will join Newton in the field for Baylor. Hannah Lodwick will travel, but will probably not run due to injuries. Newton and Bennett should be top 15 candidates for Baylor.
Things will get underway at 10 a.m. MST with the men's race, the women will follow at 11. The top nine runners in each race will receive all-conference recognition.