Ames, Iowa - The final day of The Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championship was full of broken records and suspense, coming down to the very last race of the day to decide the men’s champion. In the end, the Oklahoma State men and Texas women emerged as the victors in what was one of the most exciting Big 12 Championships to date.
The Cowboys pulled through with a 1.5 point victory, 130 to 128.5 over the Texas Longhorns. In the 4x400-meter relay, which was the final event, OSU finished fifth and UT second, allowing Oklahoma State to pull out the impressive victory. The Pokes trailed the ‘Horns by 22.5 points heading into the final two events, but a first, third, fourth, fifth and sixth place finish in the 3,000-meter pushed them into the lead heading to the final relay.
The win marks the narrowest margin of victory in the indoor championship since Nebraska and Texas tied for first place in 2007. It is also just the second time in league history that a school won the Big 12 Cross Country Championship and the Big 12 Indoor Championship in the same season, the other coming when OSU also accomplished the feat in 2013-14.
The Longhorn women had a larger cushion in claiming their title, outscoring second-place Oklahoma State by 38 points (147 to 109). The UT women’s win is their third-consecutive indoor title, marking the first time a team has posted a three-peat since Texas A&M won four-straight indoor crowns from 2007-10. The Longhorns have also won the previous two Big 12 Outdoor Championships.
Kansas State’s Akela Jones took home the women’s high-point award with 31.5 points, winning three event titles (long jump, high jump and 60m hurdles) and helping K-State place third in the 4x400-meter relay. The defending Co-Big 12 Performer of the year and NCAA heptathlon champion set a new meet record in the long jump (6.75m) yesterday, tied the meet record in high jump today (1.93m) and won her third event while breaking a Lied Center record in the 60m hurdles (8.00 seconds). Jones also took home the high point award in 2015 by winning the long jump, and finishing second and third in the high jump and 60m hurdles respectively.
UT’s Zack Bilderback earned the men’s high-point award with 22 points, winning both the 200m and 400m races and helping the ‘Horns to a second-place finish in the 4x400m relay. In the 400m, he narrowly topped teammate Adrich Bailey Jr. by less than a second, finishing in 45.27. In the 200m, Bilderback willed his way to an even closer victory, edging TCU’s Sam Watts by two one-thousandths of a second (20.782 to 20.784).
The ultra-hyped men’s 60-meter dash battle between Oklahoma State’s John Teeters and TCU’s Ronnie Baker did not disappoint. After a starter misfire and two separate false starts from other competitors, tension in the Lied Center was nearly through the roof, but Baker was unfazed, blowing by the competition in a Big 12 Championship record 6.51 seconds. The mark is No. 1 in the NCAA this year, No. 2 in the world and the eighth fastest time in NCAA history for the junior from Louisville, Kentucky. OSU’s Teeters came in second place with a 6.64 second performance.
Texas’ three-time NCAA shot put champion Ryan Crouser became the first male to win a Big 12 Championship in each of the four years he competed (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), since Missouri’s Derrick Peterson won the 800m in both indoor and outdoor championships from 1997-2000, with a throw of 21.73m today, tying the collegiate record. Crouser missed the 2013 fall season due to injury. He has the opportunity to match Peterson with eight event titles at the outdoor championship this season. UT pole vaulter Kaitlin Petrillose is the last women to sweep an event four consecutive appearances after winning the pole vault for the fourth straight time yesterday in Big 12 record-breaking fashion.
Longhorn Courtney Okolo also raced to a very impressive day on the track, winning both the 200m (22.79 seconds) and 400m (51.06 seconds) in Big 12 Championship record-times.
Okolo’s marks were two of nine Big 12 Championship marks to go down this meet, including seven in day two. Crouser, Jones, Petrillose and Baker each accounted for a record-breaker, and the Baylor Bears grabbed the other two.
BU’s Olicia Williams ran a 2:04.50 in the women’s 800m to set a new Big 12 mark, and the Bears’ 4x400m relay team busted yet another record in what was the final event of the meet. The team of Wil London, Richard Gary, Caleb Dickson and George Caddick combined to post a 3:04.16 to cap the memorable meet in appropriate fashion. It marked the 15th time in the 20 years of the conference that the Baylor men took home the 4x400m crown.
Outdoor track season gets underway in March with the Big 12 Championship taking place May 13-16 at the Lowdon Track and Field Complex on the campus of TCU in Fort Worth, Texas.
Women's Team Scores
1. Texas 147
2. Oklahoma State 109
3. Kansas State 107.42
4. Texas Tech 75
5. Kansas 70.92
6. Baylor 69.28
7. Iowa State 64.4
8. Oklahoma 57.5
9. West Virginia 24.4
10. TCU 15
Men's Team Scores
1. Oklahoma State 130
2. Texas 128.5
3. Kansas State 98.5
4. Texas Tech 97.5
5. Oklahoma 82
6. Iowa State 71
7. Kansas 51
8. Baylor 44.5
9. TCU 34
Big 12 Championship Records (listed in order of occurrence)
Kaitlin Petrillose, Texas, women’s pole vault, 4.41m
Akela Jones, Kansas State, women’s long jump, 6.75m
Ronnie Baker, TCU, men’s 60m, 6.51 seconds
Courtney Okolo, Texas, women’s 400m, 51.06 seconds
Courtney Okolo, Texas, women’s 200m, 22.79 seconds
Ryan Crouser, Texas, men’s shot put, 21.73m*
Olicia Williams, Baylor, women’s 800m, 2:04.50 seconds
Baylor 4x400m relay, 3:04.16
(Wil London, Richad Gary, Caleb Dickson, George Caddick Jr.)
*tied NCAA record