In terms of the weather and the conditions, the runners couldn’t have asked for much more. It was a crisp, cool autumn morning, truly ideal for racing.
For Baylor, that beautiful setting produced only commonplace results.
Both the BU men’s and women’s cross country teams finished seventh in their respective races at Saturday’s Big 12 Championships at Cottonwood Creek Golf Course. They’d both been shooting for at least top five, so the result left them wanting.
“We did OK, didn’t really exceed expectations too much,” Baylor associate head coach Jon Capron said. “That said, still some pretty good performances. I thought Lindsay (Walton) was brave and got up there and got in the mix. You look at where she was last year to this year, I think she’s probably cut her place from last year in half. So, that’s really hard to say, ‘Ah, not quite there.’”
Walton, a senior from Peoria, Ill., stands out on a cross country course. At 5-foot-10, she casts a longer shadow than many of the 5-3 and 5-4 pluggers in the pack. She used those long legs to hoof it to a solid 29th-place finish overall in a 6K time of 21:47.6. That was more than a minute faster than her clocking at last year’s Big 12 meet, where she finished 73rd.
Iowa State’s Callie Logue won her second Big 12 individual cross country title in a time of 20:08.2. Logue held the lead coming down the home stretch, though Oklahoma State junior Taylor Somers made a furious charge to try to catch her at the line. Ultimately, Logue leaned across just ahead of Somers, who was second at 20:08.5.
However, Oklahoma State couldn’t complain about its day. Led by Somers in second and Molly Born in third, the Cowgirls nipped Texas for the team title, by a score of 52 to UT’s 54.
Baylor’s other scoring runners after Walton were sophomore Celia Holmes (37th), senior Gabby Satterlee (41st), junior Sarah Antrich (43rd) and freshman Sophia Leidner (48th).
Capron said that some of his runners who were coming off injury or illness showed signs of rust, which may have limited the team from reaching their goal of cracking the top five in the team standings.
In the men’s race, Iowa State’s Cyclones ripped up the course and didn’t even stop to pay the green fees. Iowa State placed its top five runners in the top 10 for a dominant score of 34 points, winning its third straight team title. Oklahoma State was second at 58, and Texas placed third with 72.
Iowa State senior Edwin Kurgat, one of the top runners in the country, breezed to the individual title in an 8K time of 23:36.3.
Baylor tried to pack up and work together, but as the race progressed the BU runners started to separate.
“I need TJ (Sugg) and Ryan (Hodge) and Connor (Laktasic) to have a buddy day,” Capron said. “They need to buddy up together and just get cranking. They know how to do it. They just didn’t get together today, and they kind of missed each other.”
Sugg, a junior from Springdale, Ark., was the first Baylor runner to reach the collapse-and-puke zone past the finish line. Sugg finished 32nd overall, while junior Connor Laktasic was 38th.
“TJ and I tried doing that, and 5K came around and I tried to hold on,” Laktasic said. “We worked really well together up to that point, and he was just able to keep moving and I fell off. I wish I could have hung on with him and just kept moving, and worked that last 3K with him, so that’s definitely something I’d like to change.”
The Bears’ other three scorers were Ryan Day (44th), Ryan Hodge (47th) and Cal Johnston (52nd).
Baylor still has at least one more guaranteed race day to try to improve. The Bears will compete at the NCAA South Central Regionals in Fayetteville, Ark., on Nov. 15, as they try to qualify for the Nov. 23 NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.
Capron noted that the regional men’s race stretches out another 2,000 meters to a 10K, which he said could benefit his team, given how fast the field went out at conference.
“We held our own today, kind of held serve a little bit, but didn’t really over-exceed expectations, really. And I think they know that,” Capron said. “But, we’ve got another race, and I think regionals is going to set up really well for them to be able to end this season where we want to.”