The Aggies have not won a Big 12 400m title before he stepped on campus. Jay Hicks talks with Tabarie Henry about knocking off rivals Baylor University, transitioning to Texas A&M, likely outcome at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Plus Henry weighs in on the Aggies team chemistry and more.
She broke the Baylor school record qualifying in the 3,000 meter steeplechase in the preliminary heat of the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Bedell set a time of 9:56.19 to finish fourth in her preliminary heat. She broke her old school record of 9:58.46 set at the Stanford Invitational earlier this season.
He left big shoes to fill. Michael Johnson in 1990 was the last sprinter donning the green and gold to win an NCAA 200 meter title. That is until Trey Harts enrolled at Baylor. The school has a reputation in the 400 meters and mile relay that includes Baylor’s mile relay earning All-American honors for 29 years in a row and 19 NCAA titles along with a string of NCAA 400 meter champions.
Harts wanted to have em’ on their feet and cheering again on the national stage for the Baylor sprinters. The Lake Charles, Louisiana junior has guided the Baylor 4×100 meter relay to 39.25 seconds this season and the fouresome are currently ranked among the elite relay teams, positioned to contend for an NCAA 4 x 100 meter relay title.
In March, Harts wrote his name in the NCAA history books, winning the 200 meters at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Harts put down a personal-best time of 20.63 to win the event, and in the process produced the second-fastest time in Baylor history behind Michael Johnson 20.59 set at the NCAA Championships in 1989.
Harts presence in Waco, Texas is a common denominator to the return to these glory days.
PreRaceJitters caught up with Trey Harts and here is what he had to say:
PRJ: Congratulations on breaking Michael Johnson’s 200 meter stadium record at the Michael Johnson Classic this season. What experience did you get from running against former Baylor athlete Jeremy Wariner for the first time, along with Olympic gold medalist Reggie Witherspoon and former U.S. indoor national champion Michael Rodgers? What did you learn from racing against this group of experienced professional runner that will help with upcoming national competitions?
TH: Running against Jeremy, Reggie, and Mike was a great experience. They are some young and talented runners and I look up to each of them. One thing that I noticed about them is that they always seem to find a way to stay composed before a race. I know that is something that I need to do in the future as I run against them later on in my career.
PRJ: Throughout this season at different times, you have talked about bringing attention to Baylor’s sprinting program. What does it mean to bring attention to your school with what you have been able accomplish so far during the 2008 – 2009 season?
TH: Having more recognition come to Baylor’s short sprint program really means a lot to my coaches, my teammates, and myself. We take just as much pride in our events just like the quarter milers do. Every prestigious athletic program has to start out at the bottom and earn its respect and my teammates and I decided to take the first step in truly earning that respect from the track and field community.
PRJ: Last year you put up some impressive numbers, running 10.31 in the 100 and 20.44 at 200. So far this season you’ve run personal bests at both races. What has been the key to your success and improvement this year?
TH: The key to my success this year, in my opinion, has been me staying focused on my long-term goals. I try to be as consistent as possible in all my races. I know that it is difficult to actually PR in every race at every meet but putting forth that effort helps me accomplish my consistency goal.
PRJ: During the indoor season you ran the 60 meters, 200 meters and lead off leg of the national championship 4×400 meter relay. What has been the thought process throughout the outdoor about you running on the mile relay?
TH: As it stands right now, I do plan on running on many more mile relays, if any at all, this season. I enjoy running the mile relay but I also want to finish a season healthy and compete at the U.S. Championships and I have found it difficult to stay healthy when I run the 100m, 200m, 4×100m, and 4×400m every week during the outdoor season. If I am ever needed to run on the 4×4, I will not hesitate to step in but until that time comes, I will cheer my teammates on from track side.
PRJ: You find yourself running a number of different races throughout the season. What is a typical week of training for you and how do you mentally prepare yourself to compete in such a variety of races?
TH: My week of training is very different from my teammates. I do a combination of running on the track and running barefoot in the grass. The grass runs were implemented in order to reduce the pounding on my shins but it seems like they have also served to help my acceleration. The runs on the track are longer than my grass runs and they help with speed endurance.
PRJ: Going backwards for a moment. You won the NCAA 200 Meter Indoor Title, how would you describe this season so far?
TH: This season has been so much more than what I could have ever hoped for. I normally go into a season just wanting to perform better than I did the last season; I never start out thinking about winning championships. I just happened to be ready to run fast enough to win a national title this season.
PRJ: Who has had the biggest influence on your track career so far?
TH: My parents are the biggest influence on my track career. At every meet, at least one of them are present. They have never forced me to stick with running track but they have always challenged me to be the best at whatever I do. They are the reason that I have discipline and dedication to my sport.
PRJ: How do you see the final stages of the 2009 outdoor season?
TH: I try my best not to predict how the rest of my season will go; I take things day by day. All I can say is that if I am able to stay healthy, I will run faster than I have ever run before.
PRJ: What is your most valuable asset as a sprinter?
TH: I think my most valuable asset as a sprinter is my versatility. In high school, I competed in the 100m, 200m, and 400m. There are not many people who can run all three of these events well and I take pride in being one of the select few who can accomplish this.
PRJ: You have the final stages of the outdoor season this year and your senior season next year of eligibility remaining. What do you want your legacy at Baylor and on the collegiate running scene to be when your career is completed?
TH: The sport of track and field for Americans has recently been tarnished with steroid scandals from former great athletes. I want future track and field athletes to see that you do not have to cheat in order to be great and with a little bit of hard work, discipline, and luck the possibilities of what a person can do are limitless. I want my legacy to be a clean one that can be admired and respected.
PRJ: Trey thanks so very much for your time and we wish you the best of luck with the rest of your season.
When the gun was raised to start the men’s 1500m at the 2009 Stanford Invitational, the usual suspects towed the line—Chris Solinsky, Ian Dobson, and Evan Jager. But the looming question was identifying the guy in the green uniform lined up with the aforementioned athletes?
The runner in green, Baylor’s Chris Gowell, finished the race with a second-place finish behind Austin Abbott, running a personal best 3:41.85, officially serving notice that he had arrived in America.
Baylor will never be the same.
Gowell, a new-comer this year, is helping turn things around for Baylor ’s middle distance program. Already ranked as one of the top United Kingdom 800m runners before coming to Baylor, Gowell is now pursuing the 1500m, while at the same time raising the profile of Baylor men’s track and field program better known for Michael Johnson, Jeremy Wariner and the 4×400 meter relay.
Bringing experience, drive and a thunderous kick, Gowell is leading another British invasion, hoping to do for Baylor middle distance what the Beatles did for pop music, make it rock.
The Gowell effect was felt immediately: The Baylor squad swept the sprint medley relay and distance medley relay at Texas Relays with the 23-year old running definitive legs to secure victory for a squad with plans of improving on its’ fifth place team finish at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in College Station, Texas.
PreRaceJitters had the opportunity to talk with Chris about his background, his current training and racing at Baylor University, as well as his goals for the future.
PRJ: Growing up as kid in Great Britain, how did you develop yourself into the runner that you are today?
CG: I have always been involved in sport as a kid, and initially more passionately through golf. By the age of 16, I had achieved a handicap of 3, until my first coach, Ann Hill, spotted me at a running meet. I loved running the first time I tried it and she and my family were always very supportive in my progress.
She always maintained a high work ethic in her methods, which harvested the attitude in me to always aim to the top and not mediocrity. Probably the reason why I am rarely happy with my races, as it can always be better. She sadly passed when I was 21 but I would say that it was her initial guidance and mentoring that kept me on the track and out of trouble and certainly shaped who I am today. I have been blessed to have such great guidance throughout my athletic career.
PRJ: How did you get to Baylor University and how has your acclimation to the U.S. collegiate running system been so far?
CG: Despite having a great coach in Daryl Maynard in Wales, I felt that working and training full time was too physically taxing to make the most out of what I am capable of doing. It is well documented that the USA collegiate system produces many successful athletes and I felt the best way to maximize my education and athletics would be to pursue an American college, although I never thought it would actually happen.
I sent an e-mail to Baylor with a brief resume and I was surprised to receive a response. The moment I came to visit Baylor, I knew it was the place I wanted to be. Baylor was the only university I pursued. Its reputation speaks for itself, but what people do not see is the family-like environment behind the scenes. Everyone is friendly and I have made many friends. I just hope it is not because they like my accent!
The American collegiate running system is very competitive, chiefly the reason why America produces so many great athletes. The biggest benefit I have had is the training environment; the physio and treatment facilities are far advanced to what I have ever witnessed. There are few excuses for not competing well with such an environment.
PRJ: From most people looking in from the outside, the 400 meters is the first thing that comes to mind when mentioning Baylor. With that, what inspired you to join their program, as an up-and-coming middle distance runner?
CG: I talked to Coach Harbour and Coach Capron expressing how I had intentions of moving up to the mile and they reciprocated. I really liked their intentions for me and with Coach Harbour running as fast as he has, he is obviously very knowledgeable.
They also expressed a desire to raise Baylor’s middle distance reputation/profile, and I really wanted to be a part of that. Things have gone well so far with the DMR victory at Texas relays. I could not be happier with my training and training methods thus far, and I’m excited for the season to see what I can do.
PRJ: After enrolling in Baylor in January, you finished fifth overall in the men’s 800 meters, at the 2009 NCAA Indoor National Championships clocking a time of 1:48.78, earning your first-ever All-America honor. What did that feel like?
CG: It felt great but I obviously wanted to win as I was in great shape. It was a very competitive race; there is no place for minor mistakes in such a great field. To achieve an All American honors, so to speak, is a great achievement and I was very proud. For my first collegiate indoor season, I felt I raced very consistently, which bodes well for the imminent outdoor season.
PRJ: In your seasonal debut 1500m race at the 2009 Stanford Invitational, you ran 3:41.85, placing second in a stacked heat and in doing so recorded the second fastest time in school history behind your coach Todd Harbour. How did that race unfold for you?
CG: I was very excited to have a chance to race a quick 1500 as training has suggested I was ready. I am very pleased with the time and I am looking forward to go quicker, it’s a great feeling to have started a new event at the age of 23. As for Coach Harbour’s record, the sky would have to be the limit on that one; that is a very fast time but anything is possible.
PRJ: Are you having fun so far? You were a member of both the Sprint Medley Relay and Distance Medley Relay that won Texas Relays titles. How exciting was it to anchor the Distance Medley Relay to victory, as that race came down to a three-team race over the final laps?
CG: That was a great meet and the most enjoyable, but that’s easy to say since we did so well. To win the DMR was great as we were underdogs, and it’s nice to put Baylor distance on the Map. It is an up and coming team as Zwede [Hewitt], Zac [Flowers] and James [Gilreath] are so young with so much talent and potential. They are coming along well and we will improve. I’m not so young at 23, but I would like to think I could still improve.
We were going for the national record in the SMR, but unfortunately the wind was a little strong. I think it’s very achievable though.
PRJ: Are you going to run any more 1500s or focus primarily on the 800m for the remainder of this season? What are your long-term goals in the sport?
CG: This is a decision Coach Harbour and I are yet to make. We will see how the 800 pans out first, as I would not like to rule that out just yet, but I am excited for the 1500 for sure. However it is important not to rush the progression.
My future is unknown. I am happy I am giving myself the best possibility to become world class while at Baylor, and if I am by the end of my time here, then why change a winning formula? But I am only thinking short term at this stage.
PRJ: What will your training be like with the Michael Johnson Classic coming up this weekend, Drake Relays the following week and the Big 12 Conference meet less than a month away?
CG: Everything is geared toward regionals and nationals so we are not easing down greatly but certainly giving ourselves the best chance to run quick in each race.
PRJ: How do you prepare yourself mentally for your races?
CG: I am a fairly relaxed athlete; I take things as they come and try not to let things bother me, as over the years I have realized that a pre-race routine is difficult to uphold given the many different racing venues we go to. Music is my biggest preparation, but other than that I see or notice few obstacles in running quick.
PRJ: What are your goals for the remainder of the 2009 collegiate outdoor track season and this summer?
CG: To get myself in the National final, and from there I believe I have as good as chance as anyone to win. I would like to get below 3:39 for the 1500 and 1:46 for 800.
PRJ: Who are your role models? Who or what inspires you?
CG: Being part of such a successful team of both athletes and coaches is a great motivator to train hard and achieve. But I am also very self-motivated and self-driven in terms training. I rarely get unmotivated in my training, which is a good thing as at times things can get tough.
PRJ: What are your hobbies and interests other than running?
CG: I love to golf; unfortunately I have not had a chance since I have been in America. I enjoy reading and writing, it is good to pen thoughts.
PRJ: Chris, thanks for your time and good luck with your season.
Cheryl Lowe is a writer and contributor for PreRaceJitters.
-Austin, TX. Arguably the most exciting event at the 87th Texas Relays took place in the field. High jumper Andra Maston challenged the American record before settling on 7 feet, 8.5 inches, which is a new personal best for Maston.
A number of the 100 meter races were over the legally allowable 2.0 meters per second.
In the women’s 100, Gabby Mayo of Texas A&M won in 11.123 — .007 seconds ahead of Baylor’s Tiffany Townsend
Florida State had a dominant day at the Texas Relays. The Seminoles walked away with 4×100 meter relays victories in the men’s and women’s division.
The Distance Medley Relays were swept by Baylor on the men’s and women’s side with both races ending with dramatic finales coming down to a foot race the final 50 meters.
Mississippi State freshman Deangelo Cherry took the men’s university 100 meters in a wind-aided 10.16 seconds.
Queen Harrison of Virginia Tech won the 400 meter hurdles in 57.38, ahead of teammate Asia Washington who was second in 58.41.
Texas A&M swept the men’s and women’s 4×200 meter relays. A team comprised of Howell, Gerald Phiri, Chris Dykes and Justin Oliver ran 1:22.06.
In the 4×400 meter relay, LSU women won the race for a second straight year. Junior LaTavia Thomas anchored the team to a come-from-behind victory in 3:31.81. Baylor men 4×400 streak of consecutive reaces remains in tact. The Bears relay of J.T Scheurman, Marcus Boyd, LeJerald Betters and Quentin Summers ran 3:02.68.
Former Baylor Justin Boyd talks about competing the 400 meter hurdles in the 2009 season.
October 5, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
-Waco, TX-Baylor fell to top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners in Waco. The Bears spent most of the game digging themselves out of a 28 to 0 deficit from the first quarter. A hole that proved too big, resulting in a lopsided final score of 49-17 on Saturday.
Don’t let the score fool you, Robert Griffin was a difficult opponent to the Sooners.
Freshmen quarterback and Big 12 400-meter hurdle champion Robert Griffin hit 11 of 26 for 75 yards against the Big 12’s top ranked defense. The elusive quarterback had the most success with his legs, as he rushed for a game high 102 yards on 21 carries. Both touchdowns were scored by Griffin.
Robert Griffin made some believers on Saturday. He showed incredible poise against a fast defensive front and used his legs to open the field.
“I think Robert Griffin is an excellent athlete,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “He made some nice plays, and he’s going to do that against everybody.”
Olympians cheer on Baylor at football game.
Baylor honored its two Olympic gold medalists Jeremy Wariner and Reggie Witherspoon during the first quarter of the football game against Oklahoma.
The Baylor 400-meter runners won gold medals as the United States won first place in the 4×400-meter relay at the Beijing Games.
Wariner ran the anchor leg for the Americans, leading the USA to a time of 2:55.09 and a new Olympic record. Witherspoon ran the third leg of the 4×400-meter relay preliminaries.
Witherspoon earned his first Olympic medal, and Wariner claimed his third career gold medal along with a silver medal in the men’s 400-meters.
October 2, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
The 18-year-old two-sport athlete known for facing hurdles will certainly have his work cut out for him on Saturday. Baylor hosts the top ranked Oklahoma Sooners. Robert Griffin doesn’t make the same mistakes that typically plaque young quarterback.
So far, Griffin has piled up a bunch of statistics. The Big 12 400-meter hurdle champion has passed for 756 yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions this season, while rushing for 334 yards and five scores.
In a 31-28 loss to Connecticut on September 19, Griffin did everything he could passing for three TDs and rushing for another.
It will take the game of his life to pull an Oregon State and upset the number one ranked team. Griffin is hoping to catch the Sooners looking to the upcoming Red River Shoot Out against Texas.
There is history of such a thing happening. At this point in the season last year, the Sooners, who were ranked third in the nation and had defeated each opponent by at least 38 points, stumbled to a 27-24 loss to Colorado.
Jay Hicks for Prerace Jitters.
September 20, 2008 by · 1 Comment
Another week went by and another game of eye-popping statistics were produced. Robert Griffin played his first road game for the Baylor Bears against Connecticut. He is quickly earning a reputation as a poised quarterback that can beat opponents with his arms and his legs.
Griffin threw for 208 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another one. The speedster from Copperas Cove also ran for 46 yards on 23 carries with many of his yards coming on scrambles to get out of trouble in the Friday game that aired on ESPN2. Not too bad for the quarterback of the losing team.
The 6 foot, 3 inch true freshmen quarterback narrowly lead a fourth quarter comeback in the in the defeat to UConn (31-28).
In the fourth quarter, Griffin lead the offense down the field with under one minute to play in the game, but the final pass fell just beyond the outstretched arms of his wide receiver.
So exactly how fast is Griffin?
He is the Big 12 champion and finished third in the 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, earning him All-America honors and boasts a personal best time of 49.22.
There are a number of great athletes in track and field. If he maintains this level of productivity, does the two-sport star lay claim to best all-around athlete in track and field?
By Jay Hicks.