Wil London is on the edge of becoming elite.
That’s not speculation.
It’s fact, coming from Clyde Hart, who will receive the annual Legend Coach Award on Saturday.
“His really great time is still in reach because he’s gotten so consistent,” Hart said. “He’s running close to 45 (seconds) flat. That makes him a totally different category runner. When you get into the 44-second range, you’re into the elite level. Wil is right there at that.”
The Baylor junior is merely three hundredths of a second from running a 44 second 400.
His personal best of 45.02 has him in the top half of the qualifiers for the 2017 USATF Outdoor Championships in Sacramento.
The USATF Outdoor Championships take place June 22-25 where the best track and field athletes in the country will compete to qualify for the IAAF World Championships.
“His performances this year have certainly been more outstanding than last year,” Hart said. “He had a great freshman year. His times dropped this year. I’m hoping with this meet coming up that he will run faster than ever. That’s our goal.”
London, a sophomore this past year, earned All-American honors during the outdoor season.
As a freshman, he achieved All-America honors during the indoor season, and was named the Big 12 freshman of the year in both the indoor and outdoor campaigns.
“I think Wil has learned that now he is running with the older runners,” Hart said. “Wil has to be patient to realize that improvement will come in gradual amounts. (The times) won’t improve by leaps and bounds like most people believe. Wil is realistic enough to realize that, at the point he’s running now, time increments will be very small. He’s just got a little more to become elite in the 400. He’s close.”
The first round of the men’s 400 meters is scheduled to begin at 8:46 p.m. on Thursday, June 22.
The semifinals will be run at 9:34 p.m. on Friday with the finals at 3:31 p.m. Saturday.
“(London) has tremendous heart,” Hart said. “He loves to run, loves to compete. He doesn’t mind training. Those three things are very important. Sometimes you can be successful with two of those. To really reach the elite level, you have to have all of it. He has all of that.”
London won’t be the only Baylor Bear competing in Sacramento this week.
Taylor Bennett will compete in the 200, while Annie Rhodes will compete in the pole vault.
Bennett’s first round is scheduled to take place at 2:15 p.m. (CT) on Saturday with the semifinal and final rounds to take place on Sunday at 2:20 p.m. (CT) and 4:43 p.m. (CT) respectively.
“She’s a very strong competitor,” Baylor coach Todd Harbour said. “That’s who she is more than anything else. She loves to compete.”
Rhodes won’t compete until 2 p.m. (CT) Sunday.
“Annie is on a high right now and jumping very well,” Harbour said. “She’s looking forward to getting another opportunity. She battled hard in Eugene and had a great season, getting second in indoors and trying to win that thing outdoors. She came really close. She’s looking forward to jumping out there. How far she’s come in one year. She’s elevated from thinking about jumping against collegiate athletes to the very best in the country.”
Joining this trio of Bears is Trayvon Bromell, who finished eighth in the 100 meters at the Summer Olympic Games in Rio a year ago.
The first round of the 100 is slated for 7:35 p.m. (CT) Thursday with the semifinals and finals both on Friday at 7:31 p.m. (CT) and 10:02 p.m. (CT) respectively.
“Trayvon is still coming off injury which limited his opportunity to compete,” Harbour said. “He’s looking forward to getting back out there. He did the right thing in getting that injury taken care of. He’s back on track now.”
While these and a few other former Baylor Bears — like Lauren Paquette in the 5,000 meters along with Tiffany Townsend in the 100 and 200 — get ready to compete in the USATF Outdoor Championships, sophomores Maxwell Willis and Victoria Powell are both set to run Friday.
Willis — with the second best qualifying time of 10.18 — will compete in the 100, while Powell will compete in the 400.
“They’re trying to make the PanAm games this summer,” Harbour said. “They both had great years. Maxwell definitely has a good shot at it, for sure.”