When you’re running, it’s much more fun with the buddy system.
That’s the thinking, at least, for Baylor’s Anna West and Lindsay Bradley, who will represent the Bears at the NCAA Cross Country Championships on Saturday in Louisville, Ky. Though Baylor didn’t qualify for nationals as a team, West and Bradley both made the cut as individuals.
And they’re happy to have a tag team partner.
“I’ll just find Lindsay during the race and do what we do. The Peanuts are in action,” said the 5-foot-1 West. “I think when you make it more like a practice in your head and think, ‘Oh, I’m just running with a teammate,’ it makes the big field seem small and makes it way more manageable. If you think, ‘I’m racing against 250 girls,’ that sounds intimidating. But when you think, ‘I’m racing with one girl,’ it gives me way more confidence.”
Baylor head coach Todd Harbour believes that West, a sophomore from Wildwood, Mo., and Bradley, a junior from Kirkland, Wash., can both earn All-America finishes, which would require placing in the top 40. They’re certainly running their best entering the meet. West took third at the NCAA South Central Regionals last week in College Station with a time of 19:40.0 while Bradley followed right behind her in fourth at 19:42.3.
The times were Baylor’s two fastest for a 6,000-meter race.
“On paper right now, if we can just get them to grab a hold of who they are on paper they have a great shot,” Harbour said. “From the young ladies that we’ve taken up there, from Rachel Johnson to Lauren Hagans, they’re right there.”
The 255-runner field is as stacked as ever, featuring a bevy of returning All-Americans. But Bradley and West take solace in the fact that they will be able to run side-by-side and push one another, just as they’ve done all season.
“I can’t even tell you how great it is to have Anna,” Bradley said. “We were talking, we can’t imagine going alone. I don’t even know what they would feel like or be like. It’s a huge honor to have two of us go. Out of everyone, the two of us are the best training partners.
“We train together every single day, we race together, we’ve gone through everything together. So I think this weekend will be an awesome way to show just our whole training year.”