The Baker Orange

Athletes compete at indoor track and field nationals

McCollum, Watson earn All-American honors

Junior+Jessica+Watson+attempts+to+close+in+on+junior+Emilio+Mancha+of+St.+Ambrose+University.+Mancha+placed+fourth+and+Watson+finished+in+sixth.
Junior Jessica Watson attempts to close in on junior Emilio Mancha of St. Ambrose University. Mancha placed fourth and Watson finished in sixth.

Junior Jessica Watson attempts to close in on junior Emilio Mancha of St. Ambrose University. Mancha placed fourth and Watson finished in sixth.

Lily Stephens

Lily Stephens

Junior Jessica Watson attempts to close in on junior Emilio Mancha of St. Ambrose University. Mancha placed fourth and Watson finished in sixth.

Story by Spencer Brown, Assistant News Editor

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The NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships featured five Baker athletes on Friday at the Robert W. Plaster Center in Pittsburg, Kansas. Two of these athletes finished within the top eight of their respective events, earning All-American recognition.

Women’s 3,000-meter race walk:

Seniors Brenda McCollum and Caitlin Apollo began the day with the women’s 3,000-meter race walk. McCollum, who entered the meet nationally ranked No. 6, kept consistent with the top-ranked Anali Cisneros of Judson University for much of the race. In the final few laps of ten, McCollum slipped back into fifth place, finishing with a personal best time of 14:39.10.

Apollo, who entered the meet nationally ranked No. 9, finished in 17:00.05. McCollum and Apollo ended up finishing in fourth and tenth place, respectively, as No. 2 Cassandra Delgado of St. Ambrose University was disqualified for loss of contact.

This fourth place finish in the women’s 3,000-meter race walk event gave McCollum her fifth All-American recognition.

“I’m pretty happy,” McCollum said. “Fourth place is the highest I’ve ever gotten. I’m glad to be back on the podium.”

Both athletes showed strong emotions following the conclusion of the race. As their final indoor season came to a conclusion, both McCollum and Apollo noted that they are looking forward to the outdoor track and field season ahead, as well as further race walk opportunities after their college careers conclude.

“There’s this one race that is a bucket list kind-of-thing,” Apollo said. “It’s called the Millrose Games at the Armory in New York City. That’s a mile race, so once I graduate, I’ll start training for a shorter distance.”

McCollum, who looks to compete for Team USA, will begin training for the 20k.

Lily Stephens
Seniors Caitlin Apollo and Brenda McCollum toe the line before the gun goes off in the women’s 3,00 meter race walk on March 3 inside the Robert W. Plaster Center at Pittsburg State University. Competitors hold their watches to set a stopwatch to keep track of their individual times during the race and after they cross the finish. This practice is common in most distance events. the NAIA is the only collegiate athletic division that offers men’s and women’s racewalk. The vent has a rich history and is an Olympic event. To see full photo gallery, click here.

Men’s 3,000-meter race walk:

Junior Jessica Watson, who was nationally ranked No. 7 entering Nationals, finished with a personal best time of 13:33.47.

“I felt good coming in,” Watson said. “Midway through the race, I got tight, but I still felt fine.”

Finishing sixth overall, Watson earned Baker’s first-ever All-American in the men’s 3,000-meter race walk. Though it was Watson’s fifth All-American award, it was her first one in college. With a couple more seasons, Watson is looking to work her way up in the rankings for the 3,000-meter race walk.

“I’m trying to be around a 12:40 pace,” Watson said. “I could have gotten that this year, but this is the first time I’ve really had competition. It’s hard racing with fast people like that.”

Men’s weight throw:

The only field competitor for Baker, senior Cory Peoples, had a 17th-place finish in the men’s weight throw. After a first-throw of 17.27m, Peoples had two more throws to get into the finals for the event.

Peoples’ second and third throws did not achieve longer distances, placing him in 17th out of 27 competitors.

Men’s 1,000-meter:

Freshman Liam Barnsby was the final Wildcat competitor, running in the 1,000-meter race. Coming into the national meet, Barnsby was ranked No. 15.

“We’ve been working hard ever since we came off of cross country nationals,” Barnsby said.

After having cut off over three seconds to qualify for the NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships, Barnsby achieved a new personal best time of 2:32.54. Though he finished 16th overall and did not qualify for the final heat, Barnsby recognizes the growth he has seen during his freshman season.

“This season, I never actually went in thinking I was going to run the 1k,” he said. “I had sights on maybe making the mile, which for some reason just didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to, so for some reason, I ran one 1k on tired legs at KU. This is only the fourth time I’ve ever ran the 1k, and every single time, I got faster.”

The outdoor track and field season will begin with the Emporia State Spring Invite on March 16.

About the Photographer
Lily Stephens, Multimedia Editor

Lily Stephens is a junior public relations major. She has a passion for reporting and creating. Currently she is the Multimedia Editor for the Baker Orange and the Baker University soccer program’s media manager. Lily is from Snohomish, Washington, and enjoys writing and drinking coffee in her free time.

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