WACO, Texas -- The Baylor men's and women's cross country teams will compete in the 20th-annual Big 12 Cross Country Championship Saturday at the Oklahoma State Cross Country Course in Stillwater, Okla.
The conference meet kicks off at 10 a.m. CT with the men's 8,000-meter race. The women's 6,000-meter run will follow at 11 a.m. CT.
The top men's and women's teams will be crowned league champions, while the top 15 individuals in each race earn All-Big 12 honors. The top newcomer in each race will earn Newcomer of the Year accolades.
The Baylor women are currently receiving votes in the USTFCCCA's coaches poll and are No. 2 in the South Central regional rankings. The Baylor men are 10th in the USTFCCCA's South Central regional rankings.
For the women, junior Maggie Montoya has been the top finisher for Baylor in all three of her races this fall. She took top individual honors at the Bear Twilight Invitational with a time of 13:24.4 over the 4,000-meter distance. In her last race, Montoya placed 11th in a six kilometer personal-best time of 19:56.0 at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational to earn Big 12 Runner of the Week honors.
"Our season basically started two weeks ago and from here on out it is time to go race," head coach Todd Harbour said. "We're looking to do as well as we can at the Big 12 Championship, and then try to punch that ticket to nationals at regionals in two weeks."
Juniors Alex Davis and Peyton Thomas, along with graduate transfer Chelsea Orr have also been in the top-five runners for BU in all the races that they have competed in this fall. The rest of Baylor's allotment of runners includes Ann Marie Dunlap, Katie Grovatt, Aubree Miller, Leila Rohde and Maddie Zimmerman. With their top runners in action, the women won the Bear Twilight Invitational and placed 30th at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational.
The Baylor men will have 10 athletes in action led by sophomore Eric Anderson, who has been the top runner for the Bears in all four of his races this fall. He has finished no lower than 22nd in a race this year and has a season-best 8,000-meter mark of 24:18.1.
"My guys have definitely made a big step this year," assistant head coach Jon Capron said. "I credit a lot of that to my seniors, who are just expecting more from everyone. I am proud of the young guys, who have made the jump as well. Now we need to make sure that our training and progress matters this weekend."
Seniors Matt Galvin, JR Hardy, Chris McElroy and Kyle Scanlan, along with junior Matt League and sophomore Matthew Parham, have also contributed for the Bears this year. Freshmen Seth Brown, Henry Huff and Sean McCullough will be getting their first taste of Big 12 action to round out the BU contingent.
The Bears will be without junior Jordan West, who was a scoring runner for the Bears in all three of his fall races, but suffered an injury after the Chile Pepper Festival.
This season, the Bears have Bears finished second at the Bear Twilight Invitational, third at the Ken Garland Invitational, second at the Gerald Ritchey Invitational, sixth at the Stanford Invitational and fourth at the Chile Pepper Festival on Oct. 2.
Baylor will look to improve on last season's sixth-place men's and third-place woman's showings. That men's placing was their highest since finishing fifth in 2003, while the women tallied their highest finish since 2008.
Individually in 2014, departed senior Rachel Johnson placed third, while fellow senior Mariah Kelley was 14th and Montoya was seventh in a time of 20:32.3 to give the program three All-Big 12 runners for the second time in program history (2005).
Two other returning Lady Bears also finished in BU's top five at the conference meet a season ago, including Davis, who was 19th and Dunlap, who placed 28th.
For the men, Scanlan led the Bears with a time of 25:28.9 to be 41st. Meanwhile, Anderson was only one spot back in 25:32.1 to be 42nd. Galvin (46th) and West (54th) were also scoring runners a season ago.
Saturday's meet will feature a total of three teams ranked in the top 30. The men's race, led off by No. 6 Oklahoma State, will also Oklahoma, who is receiving votes. Following No. 11 Iowa State in the women's race is No. 23 Oklahoma State and then the Lady Bears, who are receiving votes.
Oklahoma State will be hosting the event for the third time, and its first time since 2010. The last time the meet was at Stillwater, the Baylor women were 10th, while the men were eighth.
Following the Big 12 meet, the Bears will travel to the NCAA South Central Regional Championships, with their top seven runners in action Nov. 13 in College Station, Texas.
To stay current on all things Baylor cross country, follow the team on Twitter: @BaylorTrack.