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Track teams start in Oklahoma

Jan. 19, 2001

Coach says both ranked groups should be strong

By AMETHYST HENSLEY

Sports Writer

Baylor's track program starts another season this Saturday with high rankings and high hopes as both the men's and women's teams will make a trip to Norman, Okla., for the Sooner Indoor Classic.

'We've got a good nucleus on the men's team to do very well on the national level,' head Coach Clyde Hart said. 'Our goal is to be in the top four this year at the NCAAs, and if we all perform, we can do it.' On the women's side, Hart also looks for a higher level of performance.

'Over the past couple of years our goal has been to go for quality on the national level, and that's hurt us some at the conference level because of numbers,' he said. 'But I do feel that we'll do fine this year at the conference meet.'

For both the men and women, Hart emphasized the importance of two factors.

'It all depends on two things: we have to perform and we have to stay healthy.'

The men are ranked ninth nationally, pulling ahead of all the other Big 12 Conference contenders. The University of Arkansas holds the top spot, but that does not douse the men's spirit for a national title.

'We're expecting to do very well on the men's side,' Hart said. 'We had an outstanding team last year, and we returned a good number of athletes from that team. I'd be very disappointed if we're not higher than ninth this year.'

The Bears had an early chance to prove that this 2001 season is full of promise at the Oklahoma All-Corners meet December 2, 2000 on Sooner territory in Norman.

Damian Davis took first place in the 600 meters, finishing with a time of 1:11:20. On his heels was teammate Floyd Thompson with a time of 1:12:76 and a second place spot.

In the 800 meters, Baylor swept the top three spots. Blair Matthews blazed through with a 1:56:33 time, followed by Robert Tannehill and Barrett Hall with times of 1:56:95 and 1:57:97, respectively.

Baylor's women's track team is tied with Louisiana State University for the No. 22 national ranking. The All-Corners meet gave a glimpse into how the women will perform later in the season.

'We're a legitimate top 25 team,' Hart said.

The meet was highlighted by three fourth-place finishes. Megan McCoin took fourth in the 3,000 meters with a time of 11:04:83, and Cynthia Benson's 1.62-meter mark in the high jump was also fourth. In the 200 meters, Tamara Johnson finished fourth with a time of 24:92, while Ssereta Lafayette had a time of 25:33 for seventh place.

Baylor's 4x400-meter relay team finished fifth with a time of 3:53:41.

'Our relay teams should be really strong this season,' Hart said. 'We think both our teams have been helped with recruiting, and that should give us more help, especially on the conference level.'