Two Baylor spring sports ranked No. 1 nationally as seasons begin; seven more in top 25
While the Baylor Family is understandably focused on Baylor’s two top-10 basketball teams, the No. 2-ranked Bears and No. 8-ranked Lady Bears are far from the only top teams on campus as we head into the spring. Nine of Baylor’s spring sports are (or will be) ranked in the Top 25 — including a pair at No. 1 in the nation:
No. 1 Women’s Golf — In the fall portion of their season, women’s golf reached the top spot in the nation for the first time in program history, and as the spring season begins, that’s where they stand — as the No. 1 team in the country. Head coach Jay Goble’s Bears closed out the fall having won all five of their tournaments, with senior Elodie Chapelet winning Big 12 Golfer of the Month honors in November.
No. 1 Acrobatics & Tumbling — Okay, so this one isn’t official yet; as of this date, no spring rankings have been released for A&T. But considering Baylor has won five straight national titles under head coach Felecia Mulkey — and was again ranked No. 1 when things shut down last spring — we feel safe adding this one to the list.
No. 6 Men’s Tennis — The Bears are off to a roaring 5-0 start to the season under interim head coach Michael Woodson, including a win at No. 4-ranked Michigan. No team in the nation has more ranked players than the Bears’ eight in the preseason ITA rankings (six in singles, plus two doubles pairs). The team began the year at No. 15 in the national rankings, but jumped into the top 10 thanks to the hot start.
No. 9 Equestrian — Led by two All-Americans in senior Rachael Davis and sophomore Maddie Vorhees, Baylor’s equestrian team begins the season ranked No. 9 in the nation. As always, head coach Casie Maxwell’s team is working towards championships in the Big 12 and beyond, and maybe with an added dose of motivation — this year’s Big 12 Championships and NCEA National Championships will be held in Waco.
No. 12 Women’s Indoor Track & Field — Led by head coach Todd Harbour, the Baylor women opened the 2021 indoor season at No. 12 in the nation, with top performers already off to a good start. In the squad’s first meet, Aaliyah Miller set a new program record in the women’s 1,000 meters, and in meet number two, Ackera Nugent blazed to the second-best time in the country in the women’s 60-meter hurdles.
No. 18 Softball — For the 14th time in head coach Glenn Moore’s 21 seasons, the Lady Bears will begin the season in the top 25 — this time ranked 18th nationally. They’ll look to build on their strong start from last spring, when they were 19-5 before the pandemic ended the season early. The team has dedicated this season to longtime assistant coach Mark Lumley, who passed away in December after his fourth bout with cancer.
No. 20 Women’s Tennis — Like most spring teams, last year’s end came far too early for head coach Joey Scrivano’s squad, which was off to a 10-2 start after a challenging 2019. This year, they started the season ranked No. 23 nationally, and picked up a win over No. 20 Arizona State as an early statement.
No. 25 Men’s Golf — Men’s golf began the spring season with a tournament win at the Rice Intercollegiate, and head coach Mike McGraw’s team is currently ranked No. 25 by Golfstat. Junior Ryan Grider entered the spring as the reigning Big 12 Men’s Golfer of the Month, giving Baylor a clean sweep of the men’s and women’s golfer of the month awards at the end of the fall season.
No. 25 Men’s Indoor Track & Field — The story for Baylor men’s track so far this season has been junior K.C. Lightfoot, who set the men’s indoor collegiate record in the pole vault during the team’s first meet of the year. When he cleared 19-5.75 (or 5.94m) on his first pole vault attempt of the season, he broke the previous record of 5.93; that effort earned Lightfoot two national athlete of the week awards and a Big 12 record-tying fifth Big 12 Athlete of the Week award for his career.
(Also… Though not traditionally a spring sport, Baylor volleyball will be continuing its 2020 season this spring — as will Baylor soccer — due to last fall’s COVID shutdown. Baylor volleyball was ranked No. 6 nationally at the end of last fall, and head coach Ryan McGuyre’s squad is expected to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament later this spring.)
If past successes are any indication, there will be more Baylor teams making national noise before the spring is through.
Sic ’em, Bears!