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Baylor Track & Field: Lightfoot, Nugent and Miller Win National Titles

March 15, 2021
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – For the first time in school history, Baylor track & field had three National Champions at the same NCAA meet as KC Lightfoot, Ackera Nugent and Aaliyah Miller took home gold medals at the NCAA Indoor Championships Saturday at the Randal Tyson Track Center on the campus of the University of Arkansas.

“It’s just kind of an overwhelming feeling,” head coach Todd Harbour said. “We thank the Lord. We’re humbled and we’re grateful. It was a great day.”

Lightfoot got things started in dramatic fashion, winning the national championship in the men’s pole vault with a meet-record and facility-record jump of 19-5.5 (5.93m). After clearing four consecutive bars to start the day, Lightfoot missed his first two attempts at 19-0.25 (5.80m). With BYU’s Zach McWhorter making it on his second try, Lightfoot sailed over on his third and final attempt to stay alive. From there, Lightfoot cleared 19-2.25 (5.85m) on his first attempt to effectively clinch the championship as McWhorter missed all three attempts at that height. Lightfoot went on to set the meet and facility records before taking three attempts at the American record to close out the day.

“KC had to battle in the pole vault,” Harbour said. “He had to fight, reach down and he cleared some bars there. He had some competition. I was proud of him. He competed so hard, and to be the NCAA indoor meet record holder now is pretty sweet.”

Nugent continued to set the world by storm, blazing to the national championship in the women’s 60-meter hurdles with a U20 world record time of 7.92. The freshman from Kingston, Jamaica, won the race by .07 seconds.

“For Ackera to do what she did in the hurdles as a freshman is just outstanding,” Harbour said. “World U20 record and first National Champion on the ladies’ side since (Baylor associate women’s head coach) Stacey Bowers-Smith.”

In the women’s 800 meters, Miller made sure no one was going to challenge her from the get-go as she went wire-to-wire for a meet-record time of 2:00.69 to win the national championship by .52 seconds. The senior from McKinney, Texas, held an almost two-second lead at the 600-meter mark at 1:27.49.

“The very next race on the track (after Nugent’s win in the 60-meter hurdles) was the 800 and there was a period there of ‘oh wow, what’s gonna happen next?’,” Harbour said. “We just had some good stuff going. It was really special. Aaliyah’s game plan was to not go out quite that fast. She got a little excited and went out a little bit quicker than we had talked about, but just to be able to hold on off of that pace is amazing. Also, to be an NCAA record holder, that’s pretty special.”

The women’s 4x400-meter relay put the bow on a historic day, placing eighth with a time of 3:33.27 to earn All-America honors for Kavia Francis, Arria Minor, Miller and Lily Williams.

“The 4x4 on the ladies’ side, those girls did an outstanding job,” Harbour said. “You have a sophomore, two freshmen and Aaliyah. They are young, they’ll be back, and I’m proud of them. They competed really hard.”

Before today, Baylor’s last national champion was Trayvon Bromell in the 2015 indoor 200 meters. Nugent and Miller are the first-ever individual women’s indoor national champions for the Bears, joining the 1998 4x400-meter relay team. They are also the second and third individual women’s champions overall, joining Bowers-Smith (1999 outdoor triple jump). Lightfoot is the first men’s field event national champion since Felix Obi (2014 indoor triple jump). He is the 12th individual men’s indoor national champion to go along with nine 4x4 titles, and the 19th overall individual champion alongside 19 4x4 titles.

The Baylor women’s team finished ninth as a team with 24 points, the second-ranked team from the Big 12 right behind Texas with 25. Lightfoot gave the men’s team a finish of tied for 18th with 10 points.

“Hopefully it will springboard us, both men and women, into a great outdoor season,” Harbour said.

With the indoor season complete, Baylor is set to fully begin the outdoor season March 19-20 at the Roadrunner Invitational in San Antonio, Texas.

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Baylor Track & Field: Lightfoot, Nugent and Miller Win National Titles

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