COLLEGE STATION, Texas- The Baylor men's and women's cross country teams will take on conference rivals in the Big 12 Championships in College Station, Texas on Saturday.
The meet will take place at the Pebble Creek Country Club, where the top team in each race will be crowned Big 12 champions and the top 15 runners in each race will earn all-conference honors. The men's 8,000-meter race will kick off the action at 10 a.m. CT, followed by the women's 6,000-meter race at 11 a.m. CT. Admission to the event is free to the public.
One of the top conferences in the nation, Baylor will face four ranked teams on the men's side and three on the women's side. For the men, the field features No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 5 Oklahoma, No. 11 Texas and No. 24 Texas A&M. The BU women will face the ranked trio of No. 11 Texas, No. 13 Iowa State and No. 30 Oklahoma State.
Baylor will look to improve on last season's 8th-place men's and 10th-place women's showing. Last season's 10th-place finish for the women marked only the second time in the 15-year history of the Big 12 to finish below seventh place. All-time, the Lady Bears have the best average finish among any of the current Big 12 members. They have averaged a 5.2 finish, just ahead of Missouri's average of 5.4 and Texas Tech's average of 5.5. Those are the only three schools to average better than sixth place at the women's Big 12 Championship.
For the men, sophomore Brad Miles and senior Zac Flowers have been the leaders this season with Miles finishing in the top spot for BU in the first two meets and Flowers in the top spot in each of the last three. The pair helped lead Baylor to a team title at the UT-Arlington Season Opener and second-place finishes at the Bear Twilight Invitational and Baylor Invitational. Miles claimed the lone individual title for the Bears, winning the UTA meet.
Also for the men, freshman Derwin Graham has been in the Bears' top-five in each of the five meets, while sophomore Taylor Jackson and junior Blake Niccum have each finished in the top-five three times. Baylor has also gotten solid seasons from freshman Alex Le Roux and sophomore Jonathan Tijerina, who have been in the BU top-five twice each.
For the women, senior Cate Westenhover and freshman Rachel Johnson have been the top finishers most often in leading the team to a Bear Twilight title and four other top-six finishes. Westenhover claimed the top individual honors at the Bear Twilight, followed by a trio of breakout freshman that includes Johnson, Bree Schrader and Erin Hegarty.
Hegarty has consistently been one of the top three finishers for the Lady Bears this season, and along with Schrader has helped develop the depth of the Baylor squad. Senior Kristen Hanselka and sophomore Robyn Bennett have moved their way up the Baylor top-five as well, claiming two of the top three spots behind Hegarty at the NCAA Pre-Nationals two weeks ago.
Complete results, a recap and video highlights of the championships will be available on BaylorBears.com following the conclusion of the event.