CARRYING THE WEIGHT: Throwers Add 2 More Silver Medals in Shot, DiscusMay 5, 2013
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider
With her fourth consecutive All-Big 12 performance in the shot put, senior Skylar White has "been there" enough to know how to act.
She did playfully try to swap spots with fellow senior Tia Brooks from Oklahoma on the medal stand after finishing second place with a season-best toss of 55 feet, 5 ½ inches on Saturday at the Big 12 Track & Field Championships. Brooks, the defending national champion and repeat winner, topped her own Big 12 record with a winning mark of 60-8 ¾.
"We talk to each other throughout the season, all the time, and check on each other and try to help each other," White said, "because she wants to throw farther, too. She encourages me, even though she's on the other team, and I love competing against her."
But this was something new and maybe even a little unexpected for sophomore Desmine Hilliard.
After winning a starting job on the Baylor football team's offensive line in the spring, the 6-foot-4, 330-pound Hilliard came into Saturday's discus competition with only the fifth-best throw in the league and was seventh coming out of the prelims.
But on his first attempt in the final round, Hilliard uncorked a school-record toss of 187 feet, 5 inches to vault past five throwers to finish second behind Texas' Clint Harris (188-4). Hilliard beat his previous best by more than five feet in breaking Dan Mosley's 42-year-old school record in the event (185-3).
"He finally got a hold of one," said Baylor head coach Todd Harbour. "He's known what he's capable of doing, and he finally got a nice throw. That's all it takes, sometimes, is one good one. And he really popped one. It was a beautiful throw."
An almost giddy Hilliard said being on the medal stand at the Big 12 meet was "the best experience."
"It was nerve-racking, like, 'Oh, my God, I'm exposed now. People know who I am,''' Hilliard said. "Honestly, I just came out and was hoping to do my best - PR, make Baylor proud, make my coach proud and make my mom proud."
Of his record-setting throw, Hilliard said, "I think coach was happier than I was. He was going to kill me if I had stepped out (of the ring)."
While the throwers once again carried the day - 24 of Baylor's 25 combined points on the first two days of the meet have come from the hammer, shot put and discus - the Bears also had their share of qualifiers for Sunday's running finals.
"Overall, I thought we did probably about what we could, what we expected," said Harbour, who had nine athletes make it through the prelims for a total of 13 spots in the finals. "You always have a couple near-misses; I think we had a couple ninths. But we've got a lot qualified for tomorrow; a couple disappointments, but a lot of positives."
Sunday will be particularly tasking for sprinters Blake Heriot and Ashley Fields. They both qualified in two sprints and are running in both the 4x100 and 4x440-meter relays.
"It's something I've been preparing for," said Heriot, who won his heats and posted the second-fastest qualifying times in both the 200 (20.74) and 400 (46.56). "We have long practices, so this is actually going to be easier since it's less running."
Heriot, whose previous best or 46.28 came at last year's Big 12 meet, said his goal is to break the 46-second barrier and take the top spot on the medal stand.
"I didn't think everybody else was going to be running that fast," Heriot said of the prelims. "But it shows how fast I can be. I was patient, that's the one thing I'll say. I had some people coming up on me, but I just tried to stay patient. I was tired, just like everybody else, but I did what I needed to do to make it to the next round."
Heriot will be a threat to double in the 200 and 400. TCU's Charles Silmon had the fastest qualifying time in the 200 at 20.69, while Kyle Clemons of Texas was the fastest qualifier in the 400 at 46.16.
"The goal is to win them both," Heriot said. "Times are going to be in the back of my mind, but winning and scoring as many points for the team as I can, those are the ultimate goals."
Just a freshman, Fields is probably less of a threat in her events. But she qualified with the fifth-fastest time and a personal best in the 100 meters (11.66) and came back to win her heat and post the third-fastest time in the 200 (23.45).
"That was definitely one of my goals," Fields said of qualifying in both sprints, "especially the 100, because that's not my primary event. But in the 200, my goal was to win (my heat), so I can get a good lane for the final tomorrow."
Like Heriot, Fields will be involved in four finals on Sunday, including both relays.
"I think we definitely have an advantage over other teams," she said, "because we're here every day (at the Hart-Patterson Track & Field Complex), and we know how to use the track to our advantage."
Senior hurdler Christina Holland has already survived a tough day, making it through the prelims in both the 100 (13.67) and 400 hurdles (58.23).
"You get used to it, but's never not a tough day," she said.
Holland expects to contend in the 400 hurdles, where her chief competition will likely come from Texas junior Danielle Dowie (57.55).
"I just feel like it's time," Holland said. "We like to say that I'm a pressure runner, so this is when I'm going to run good. The girl that I'm really after wasn't in my heat, Danielle Dowie from UT. We're friends, but she's the one that beat me out at nationals last year. So it's personal."
Also qualifying in two events was sophomore middle distance runner Mariah Kelly, who posted the fastest time in the 1,500 meters (4:26.00) and seventh-fastest in the 800 (2:09.54).
Freshman Olicia Williams will join Kelly in the 800-meter finals after running a personal-best time of 2:07.99, while Gavyn Nero made the men's 800 finals with a sixth-place time of 1:53.69.
Raena Rhone (54.03) and Idia Omogiate (54.32) made it through the women's 400-meter qualifying, while freshman Alex Reece made the 100-meter finals (10.66) and missed the 200 finals by one spot (21.47).
Baylor also earned All-Big 12 honors in the two multi events, with Henry Vildosola finishing eighth in the men's decathlon with a personal-best mark of 6,836 points and Jessica Shadley holding on to eighth in the women's heptathlon with 4,913 points.
"For a kid with a torn ACL to show up and put himself in a 10-event decathlon, that's pretty incredible," Harbour said of Vildosola, who re-tore the ACL in his right knee last summer and wasn't cleared until right before the Big 12 meet. "My hat's off to him. He's a warrior and just an incredible young man."
Running finals will begin at 3:45 p.m. Saturday, with Special Olympics 100-meter runs for both boys and girls. The closing 4x400 relays will begin with the women at 7:55 and men at 8:05, followed by the team championship presentations at 8:15.