By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
They can both race with the best.
"I've had good cross country races in college before, but that was the first one where I actually showed what I'm capable of as a collegiate athlete," said West, who placed second in the women's 6,000-meter race in a personal-best time of 20:06.8 and beat junior teammate Lindsey Bradley for just the second time in eight head-to-head meetings over the last two years.
"Before, I was scared to kind of push the limits and see what my body was capable of. I'm not sure why. I always pushed it in high school. But, I think the college atmosphere just scared me. So, I think the Big 12 meet was really my first steppingstone into realizing that I can race with the top girls and that I am national-caliber."
The same is true for Meyrer, who placed 12th in the men's 8K race in 24:22.8 and earned All-Big 12 honors. Through the first 6,000 meters, he was in a lead pack of runners that was separated by no more than two seconds.
"Going back over the video again and seeing that there was a front group and I was right there with them, I had never really experienced that in a college race," Meyrer said. "College is a whole different story. So, going in and telling myself that I could run with the top guys, and then actually proving it, that gives me so much confidence going into regionals."
The Baylor men's and women's cross country teams will compete in the NCAA South Central Region Championships that begin with the women's 6K race at 9:15 a.m. Friday and then men's 10K at 10:15 at Texas A&M's Watts Cross Country Course in College Station.
Baylor head coach Todd Harbour said he likes the women's chances at next week's NCAA Championships in Louisville, Ky., "if we can just get there."
"The crazy thing is this team at nationals would be better than the team last year," said Harbour, comparing this year's group to a team that finished second at the regional meet and 27th at the NCAA Championships. "With Lindsey and Anna being as low as they could go . . . we could go from not even being ranked to finishing in the top 20. That's probably our ceiling, but I'd like our chances if we can just get there. But, we've got to get there. We have to go out and do it."
At No. 2 in the regional rankings prior to the Big 12 Championships, the Baylor women seemed to be in prime position to make the 31-team national meet as one of the two automatic qualifiers. But, they fell to fourth in the latest regional rankings behind Arkansas, Abilene Christian and Texas after a disappointing fifth-place finish at the conference meet.
"We know what they're going to do," Harbour said. "They're going to get out, it's going to be fast, it's a race track. . . . We know we're going to have to race hard up front, and they're going to have to get after it. If it's not good enough it's not good enough. But, you don't want it to be because we didn't get out and put ourselves in the race."
Harbour said the reason for the team's fifth-place showing at the Big 12 meet was the huge gap between the fourth and fifth scoring runners, with Gilmore 32nd and Antrich 60th in her first collegiate race.
"We've got to do a little better at 3 and 4, but we've got to do a lot better at 5, or (Texas will) beat us," Harbour said. "They beat us by 27 points at conference. I got us beating them by 10 (at regionals). I'm just hoping I get it right like I did at the conference indoors last year. If Lindsey and Anna go 1-2, we only have to score three (runners). We've got to put our fifth at about 35, and Brooke and Gabby need to be in the low 20s. if we do that, I don't think Texas can beat us."
It would be hard for the Baylor men to topple Arkansas or Texas, a pair of top-20 squads. "Texas and Arkansas are kind of the class of the field right now, but it's cross and things happen," assistant head coach Jon Capron said. "We could be third if we run really well. And again, if we can be third, why can't we be second?"
The better chance at advancing through to the NCAA Championships, though, is Meyrer as one of the top four individual runners not on a qualifying team. That seems like a realistic goal after the sophomore runner's showing at the conference meet.
"I think he's going to gain a lot of confidence from just being where he belongs, truthfully," Capron said. "That was a big step for Devin. He's not like, `Oh, I can see the front pack.' No, he's in it. He's in the mix with 2K to go. He's not to the point where he's kicking to win or anything yet, but he needs to start thinking about that. The list of people that are kind of over his head is getting very, very small." Joining Meyrer in the men's lineup are freshman TJ Sugg and seniors Eric Anderson, Matt Parham, Jordan West and Sam Sahli, with the final spot coming down to a choice between freshman Jeremy Meadows or junior Sean McCullough.
"Sam's a little behind where he ought to be, but I think he's pretty committed to finishing out his cross country (career)," Capron said of Sahli, who was the Bears' eighth runner and 64th overall at the conference meet. "Seniors, sometimes they've got super powers. Sometimes, they've got it, and sometimes you've just got to roll it out and let them go."
Live streaming results for Friday's races are available at http://flashresults.com/2018_Meets/xc/NCAASC/.
WACO, Texas - Baylor's cross country teams will travel to College Station, Texas, to compete in the NCAA South Central Region Championships Friday morning.
The women's 6,000 meters will be the first race of the day at 9:15 a.m. CT, followed by the men's 10,000-meter race at 10:15 a.m. at the Texas A&M's Watts Cross Country Course. BU will compete alongside 28 other regional teams at the meet.
As part of the South Central Region, the Bears will face teams from Arkansas, Louisiana and the eastern half of Texas. For only the sixth time in the last 15 seasons, Baylor will not be hosting the regional.
Regional teams will put their top seven runners out in an effort to be one of the top two teams in the regional and in turn earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. As in other races this fall, only the top five times from those seven runners will count towards the team score.
Along with the top two teams, the top four individuals not on an advancing team receive an automatic berth into the national meet. Additional teams and individuals are chosen through an at-large selection process for the 2017 NCAA Championship, which will be held Saturday, Nov. 18, in Louisville, Ky.
The Baylor women are currently No. 4 in the USTFCCCA's South Central regional rankings behind No. 1 Arkansas, No. 2 Abilene Christian and No. 3 Texas. The Baylor men are sixth the USTFCCCA's South Central regional rankings.
"I like our team and I like the shot that we have," head coach Todd Harbour said. "We know we're going to race hard out front. They're going to have to get after it. We have a good shot at it. We've just got to put it together."
Following a fifth-place finish at the Big 12 Championships, the BU women will only face conference foes Texas and TCU on Friday. Last season, the Baylor women earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship with a second-place finish overall. Maggie Montoya, Peyton Thomas, Lindsey Bradley and Anna West all produced All-Region performances.
On the women's side, Baylor's seven runners will come from eight traveling athletes, including: All-Big 12 performers Anna West and Lindsey Bradley, Gabby Satterlee, Brooke Gilmore, Sarah Antrich, Alison Andrews-Paul, Madelaine Johnston and Hana Marsheck.
With All-Region performers Bradley and West returning, the Bears will also have Satterlee and Marsheck who ran on last year's regional squad. Meanwhile, Gilmore, Antrich, Andrews-Paul and Johnston could be getting their first regional experience for Baylor.
After claiming sixth at the Big 12 Championship, the Bears will be looking to improve upon last season's fifth-place finish at the regional meet.
"We're a built a little bit more (for a 10k race)," assistant head coach Jon Capron said. "I build these guys for this race. We're hoping for a better performance. The 10k course is a lot more straight forward. You don't mess around with it. It usually runs pretty true."
On the men's side, Baylor's seven runners will come from the travel group of eight, including: All-Big 12 performer Devin Meyrer, Eric Anderson, TJ Sugg, Matt Parham, Jordan West, Sam Sahli, Sean McCullough and Jeremy Meadows.
Meyrer looks to become the first Bear to earn multiple All-Region honors since Bo Price (2003-06). Anderson, Parham, Sahli and West all ran on last season's regional squad for BU. Sugg, McCullough and Meadows could be getting their first regional experience on Friday.
Complete results and a recap of the meet will be available on BaylorBears.com following the event.
To stay current on all things Baylor cross country, follow the team on social media: @BaylorTrack.