As Bailey Baker stepped into the ring for her last throw at the Wolverine Invitational this past Saturday, the Michigan women’s track and field team held the fourth and fifth-place spots in the weight throw event. Just a few minutes later, the Wolverines had not only claimed the second and third places, respectively, but also broke the school record — not once but twice.
The previous record of 19.23 meters, set by April Phillips in 2003, was broken by Baker’s final throw of 19.28 meters. But Baker's record-breaking throw didn't impede fellow fifth-year senior Kayla Deering's success when she stepped up for her last throw.
“I pretty much had the same mindset as the previous throws,” Deering said. “I was focusing on technique and, obviously, I was pretty amped up with (Baker) just breaking the record. I was really excited for her but I knew I had it in me. I focused on what I’ve been focusing on the whole past year and it came together.”
Come together it did as Deering, on her last throw, broke the fifth-year senior’s newly set record by .25 meters.
“I’d hit the numbers in practice, and so had Bailey, so I knew it was possible,” Deering said. “To see it all come together at the meet was a great feeling.”
This accomplishment has been a long time coming for these two. Freshman year roommates, who both began weight throw upon entering college, Deering and Baker have been pushing each other from the start.
“It’s definitely a benefit to have a training partner like (Baker),” Deering said. “We don’t just challenge each other, we’re both genuinely happy for each other when we do have success. We came in together as freshmen and we redshirted together last year so we’ve seen each other go through ups and downs. For both of us to have success like that on the same day was a really great thing.”
“We have both been training so hard all year,” Baker added. “I think it’s going to be a back and forth battle all year for (the record). We have another teammate, (junior) Courtney Jacobson, who didn’t open this weekend, who’s right there with us too. We want what’s best for each other. I was extremely happy for (Deering) and we both get to say we’re record holders. I have absolutely no hard feelings on that at all.”
Both athletes attribute much of their success to Michigan coach Jerry Clayton. Having previously worked with the men’s team, Clayton is no stranger to broken records. In 2018, he coached then senior Joe Ellis to a school record in the same event.
“Coach Clayton has an absolutely incredible program,” Baker said. “In the past two years, I’ve gotten so much stronger technically and physically. Having all of these training partners. The guy throwers are amazing to work with, so just having a big collaborative group to support each other.”
While both women are happy with their initial performance, they have no intention of slowing down.
“I think this is going to be a pretty common thing,” Baker said. “We’re always going to be pushing up that record pretty much every weekend from now on. That’s the goal anyway.”