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HITS AND MISSES: All Four Relays Advance; Obi, White Come Up Short

May 27, 2013

By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider

AUSTIN, Texas - Todd Harbour is looking forward to that day, "when we get to Heaven," where there are no lows or disappointments.

But until then, he knows that, "you're always going to have some good and some bad" at any track meet.

"Hopefully the good outweighs the bad," Harbour said Saturday night after the Baylor track and field team wrapped up the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds at Mike A. Myers Stadium. "That's just the nature of this meet, especially. It forces you to be on and really have to be perfect. And we had some of that. We had some that probably weren't expected to make it that did, and we had a couple that we thought would have a really good shot at getting out that didn't. So, there's a tradeoff. But overall, it was good."

At the end of the three-day meet, Baylor had seven individuals and all four relays advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore.

"You just want to survive this one," Harbour said. "We've got some people that we feel like once we get them up there, they've got a shot. . . . Until you look at the other region and see what comes out, you don't really have a complete feel for, 'All right, we do have great shots at?' It's just like (this meet): you could go in seeded 22nd or 23rd and still get on the award's stand. That's what you've got to do."

One of the biggest surprises for Baylor on either side was the women's 4x100-meter relay. Coming in with the 18th-fastest time, "just barely getting into the meet," the foursome of Justine Charbonnet, Ashley Fields, Idia Omogiate and Justise Dayries knocked more than three-tenths of a second off their previous best and finished fourth in their heat and 12th overall in 44.95.

Finishing in a virtual dead heat with UCLA anchor Ally Courtnall, Dayries edged her by two thousandths of a second for the final qualifying spot.

"My heart was beating so fast," said Omogiate, who ran third leg on the 4x100 relay and leadoff on the 4x400 relay that posted the ninth-fastest time. "I was like, 'Oh, my goodness, there are two other heats. I have to sit here and wait.' And I was not about to leave this track until I found out what our time was. Especially watching our race, UCLA was right there at the end of the line. Justise must have had faith and confidence."

Even though they ran their best time of the year, it's clear this team could go much lower. On the exchange between Charbonnet and Fields on the first to second legs, they nearly collided.

"Our handoffs are usually pretty close like that," said Fields, who made it in both relays and the 200 meters, "but 1 to 2 wasn't too great. Justine got out really hard today, so our steps might have been a little bit off."

Coming into the meet with the eighth-fastest time, the men's 4x100 relay's odds of making it through were shaky, at best. But with the late addition of Houston transfer Mark'Quis Frazier, an NJCAA National Champion in the 200 meters at Barton County (Kan.) College, the Bears won their heat and posted the fourth-fastest time at 39.68.

Running with Justin Allen, Blake Heriot and freshman anchor Alex Reece, Frazier helped the relay knock nearly three-tenths of a second off its previous best (39.84).

"I was very confident in this group of guys, because all we had to do was get the stick around," said Frazier, who regained his academic eligibility at the end of the spring semester. "We could rely on our God-given ability to make it there."

Taking the handoff from Frazier, Reece got off to a slow start and seemed to be getting sucked in by the field before pulling away late and holding off a challenge from Illinois' DJ Zahn.

"Being a freshman, it's an experience, because you have a group of guys that are relying on you to bring it home in first place. And you just have to hold on," Reece said. "When I saw Justin catch Tulsa (running on the outside in Lane 8), I was like, 'Oh yeah, it's over.' I just got down in my little stance and was like, 'OK, it's time to go.'''

The men's 4x400 relay came in with much more hype and higher expectations. But Heriot was passed by Illinois on the anchor leg as the Bears finished second in their heat with the sixth-fastest time overall in 3:05.75.

"We should have won that heat, but didn't," Harbour said. "Blake's got to do a better job on the anchor. He can't give up the lead like that, and he knows it."

But Heriot, who also qualified in the 4x100 relay and open 400 meters, said, "If you get top three (in your heat), you shouldn't be disappointed."

In most of the running events, the top three in each of three heats and the next three fastest times advance to the NCAA Finals site.

"The main thing in this meet is just to qualify," said Heriot, who was joined by Allen, Drew Seale and freshman Isaiah Duke. "I've got some little things I need to work on personally, working on my curve and just getting out consistently. And once that gets fixed, we're going to be 3:01 and should be 3.00-flat. We're ready."

Just like the 4x100 relay, the women's 4x400 finished fourth in its heat and had to sit through two more heats to see if it advanced. But Omogiate, Fields, Olicia Williams and Raena Rhone posted the fastest non-automatic qualifying time (3:32.71) and were just off the season-best time of 3:32.12.

Rhone was solidly in second before getting passed by both Oregon (3:32.36) and Stanford (3:32.65) in the final few meters on the anchor leg.

""Without God, we can't do any of this," Omogiate said. "We just wanted it. We didn't care who was in our heat. I feel like people thought we were the underdogs, but we came out and made it to nationals."

Like Heriot, Fields will be busy at the NCAA Championship. In addition to running on both relays, she finished second in her heat with the fourth-fastest overall time in 23.27 seconds in the 200 meters.

"When I came down to about 50 (meters out), people were still really close," said Fields, who posted her best non wind-aided time of the year, "and I was like, 'Come on, you have to keep going. You can't slow down. You've got to keep going hard, because you want to get top three.' So, I was really excited when I crossed the finish line."

Things didn't go as well for Baylor in the field events, where freshman Brianna Richardson came up half an inch short in the triple jump, finishing 13th in 41 feet, 10 inches on her final attempt of the round.

Skylar White, who had already advanced in the discus, came up three feet short of her previous best and finished 17th in the shot put with a disappointing toss of 52-2. Another two inches farther would have at least earned her a spot in the 16-woman finals and three chances at moving into the top 12.

The same thing happened to freshman Felix Obi in the men's triple jump. Coming in seeded fifth, Obi came up 2 feet, 3 inches shy of his school record (52-9¼) and was 20th overall in 50-6¼.

"I think her heart is in the discus right now," Harbour said of White, who tied for the third-best mark in Friday's discus competition. "Sometimes, she struggles a little in the shot, so it's not something that wasn't totally unexpected. With Felix, he's a freshman. (This meet) forces you to have to get a good jump. One of the national champions from Kansas didn't get in in the long jump. The girl that won the Big 12 in the hammer didn't make it out of the first round. The national leader in the discus didn't even get a legal throw in. It's just what happens down here."

Also making it to the NCAA Championships were Erin Atkinson in the women's hammer throw, Desmine Hilliard in the men's discus, Christina Holland in the women's 400-meter hurdles and Olicia Williams in the women's 800.

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