Since the Clyde Hart Track and Field Stadium opened in 2015, Todd Harbour has had conversations with various Big 12 officials about bringing the conference meet back to Waco.
Now the talk is giving way to reality.
Baylor will host the 2018 Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships at its three-year-old facility May 11-13 next year, the Big 12 announced on Wednesday.
Harbour said that once Baylor submitted a bid to host the 2018 Big 12 meet, he felt pretty confident that the league would return to Waco, given the feedback he’d received from league officials.
“The Big 12 really wanted to get back down here, and all the teams in the league wanted to come here, especially while the track still has some newness to it,” Harbour said. “It’s a great facility, and I think it’ll be able to host the Big 12 Championships well. We’re really excited about it.”
While it’s a first for the new Clyde Hart facility located just past McLane Stadium, Baylor is no stranger to hosting the league’s outdoor conference meet. The program’s old home, Hart-Patterson Track and Field Complex, hosted the meet four times, including the Big 12’s inaugural track and field season of 1997. It also welcomed in the league’s best athletes in 1999, 2006 and 2013.
So this will mark the fifth time Waco has staged the meet, which will break a tie with Columbia, Mo., for the most in the conference.
Is there a home-field advantage to running on your own track? Definitely, Harbour said. It’s just like any other sport.
“Just the familiarity gives you comfort,” he said. “You’re running on the same runways, using the same shot put and hammer rings. For the field event kids, it’s probably an even bigger deal. But it’s something when you’ve been working on that track day after day, it’s an advantage.
“Plus, we should have a great home crowd. We’ve had a big crowd for the MJ meet (the Michael Johnson Classic), and I expect we’ll have an even bigger crowd for the Big 12 meet.”
Harbour said that the Baylor athletes almost can’t wait for May to arrive.
“They’re excited. They’ve known for a while, we’ve known for a while, just waiting for it to be released,” Harbour said. “But I told them, ‘There are always meets on the schedule that you circle and highlight.’ This is one that we’ll double highlight.”