Baylor University's men's 4x400m relay squad automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships yesterday, winning the Arkansas Invitational with an outstanding time of 3.05,82 at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
“That’s smoking fast,” second-year Baylor coach Todd Harbour is quoted as stating on the Baylor track and field site (source).
"We’ve never opened up like this. It was a real fast time for this early in the season.”
Baylor won last year in 3.08,92, a 1,08-second victory over four Arkansas alumni.
The team of Reggie Witherspoon (Marietta, Ga.), J.T. Scheuerman (Littleton, Colo.), Kevin Mutai (Round Rock, Texas) and Quentin Iglehart-Summers (San Antonio, Texas) finished more than six seconds ahead of second-place Texas A&M’s 3.11,92.
Witherspoon, who took second in the 200m in 21,38 last year, won the event this year in an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 20,85.
Mutai won the 400-meter dash with a provisional qualifying mark of 47,04.
"Overall, it was a good first meet for both teams," Harbour said.
"We found out where we are at and what we need to work on. We had a lot of good performances and had some fun today. You don't go into the first meet thinking you are going to automatic (qualify) for anything, and yet we did so in the 4 x 400 and Reggie (Witherspoon) was very close in the 200, which was very impressive."
The Baylor men's 4x400-meter relay did not finish last year's 4x400m at the NCAA Indoor Championships at the same track in Fayetteville, as the third leg, Wil Fitts (DeSoto, Texas), pulled up with an injury around the fourth turn of his first lap.
The Bears had a firm grip on second place behind eventual champion LSU before the injury forced the team to abandon its hope for indoor gold, marking only the second time in the past 21 years, the indoor relay did not finish in the top five and did not earn All-America honors.
Baylor owns the NCAA collegiate 4x400m record - 3.03,96, a mark which they set in winning the 2004 NCAA Indoor Championships in Arkansas.
Baylor finished third in the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Sacramento last season, with a men's 4x400-meter relay team of Iglehart-Summers, Mark Teter (San Antonio, Texas), Mutai and Witherspoon finishing with a season-best 3.02,93, marking the 27th straight year the Bears earned All-America honors in the event, and the 21st time in that span they have finished in the top three.
LSU, the reigning NCAA champions and national-record holders, won the event with a time of 3.01,58, while TCU took second in 3.02,12.
Iglehart-Summers had a busy 2006, as he extended himself into the summer, running the leadoff leg for the victorious United States Junior 4x400m relay squad at the 11th IAAF World Junior Championships held at Chaoyang Sports Centre in Beijing, China.
The San Antonio native teamed with Justin Oliver, Bryshon Nellum and Chris Carter to run 3.03,76, the 11th-fastest time ever recorded. The United States holds the world junior record (3.01,09), and has the top-10 fastest times ahead of last year's winners.
Witherspoon, the 2003 High School Indoor Athlete of the Year, garnered all-region honours in the 400 metres, finishing second at the NCAA Midwest Regional with a time of 46,00. He became the first athlete in Big 12 history to win the indoor 200m and 400m conference titles, capturing gold in both events last season with times of 46,91 and 21,11, respectively.
Baylor returns to the track 19-20 January at the Lobo Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M.
The NCAA Indoor Championships will be held at the same venue in Arkansas on 9-10 March. Baylor has won the NCAA Indoor Championships six times (2004, 2002, 1998, 1992, 1991 and 1990).
4x400m Arkansas Invitational Flash Results
Finals 1 Baylor 3.05,82A 1; 2 Texas A&M 3.11,92 1; 3 Baylor 'B' 3.12,56 2; 4 ST Gregory 3.16,68 2; 5 K-State 3.16,83 2; 6 Houston 3.16,85 2; 7 Ole Miss 3.17,00 1; 8 Texas A&M 'B' 3.17,37 3; 9 Okla Baptist 3:18.09 3; 10 Texas-San Antonio 3.19,06 3; 11 Texas-Arlington 3.19,22 4; 12 Ole Miss 'B' 3:22.29 3; 13 Okla Baptist 'B' 3.22,88 4; 14 Texas A&M 'C' 3.23,39 3; -- Arkansas DNF 2 -- Jackson St. DQ 2 1st leg, lane violation
Full results, click here