Baylor's Kaufman, Wicks Hope To Go Out On Top

Red Raider Seniors Nearing End Of Prep Careers

Thursday, May 15, 2014 - by John Hunt

The season is just about over for high school athletes in Tennessee.

It will all end at some point next week when Murfreesboro hosts the annual Spring Fling, that ever popular gathering where state champions will be determined in baseball, softball, tennis, soccer and track and field.

Some of these athletes will head back home very happy with state championship medals around their neck while others will be making promises to do better next time after coming up short this year.

And for young ladies like Baylor's Kate Kaufman and Victoria Wicks, it will mark more than the end of another season.  For these two Red Raider seniors, it will mark the end of memorable high school careers.

But it won't be the end of their athletic careers as both of these track stars will be competing at the next level next year.

Kaufman will be heading to Virginia while Wicks will be going to Birmingham where she'll be competing for Samford.

Kate had offers from Lafayette, Villanova, Bucknell and Samford before deciding to become a Lady Cavalier.

"The coaches were awesome and it seems like they had the best facilities for everything," Kate said as she added an intention to major in Italian and History with the long-term goal law school.

In addition to Samford, Wicks had offers from Louisville and Belmont.

"It came down to Samford and Belmont and I liked both as they are smaller schools.  Samford seemed to be more involved in sports but the coaches were amazing.  I just had that feeling when I went for my visit that it was the place for me," Victoria explained.

These two have untold memories from their days at Baylor as Kaufman has been there for six years while Wicks has been there for seven.  As much as they look forward to bigger and better things, they hate to think about this chapter of their young lives getting ready to end.

Kaufman, the oldest child of Julian and Mary Elizabeth, has been a three-sport letterman with two years in volleyball, three in basketball and five for track. 

She's tall and slender and extremely fast.  She's also fearless and strong, which is the perfect description for someone wanting to be a competitive pole vaulter.

She's also a sprinter and a triple jumper, but pole vaulting is her thing.  She has a personal best of 11 feet, nine inches earlier this spring in the dual meet at GPS and she's cleared 12 feet in practice, but not in competition.

She finished third at the state meet as a freshman and sophomore while taking fifth last year.  She would like nothing more than to end her high school career as the D-II pole vault state champion.

"I think I've tried about every sport possible, but I tried pole vaulting several years ago and really loved it.  I was hoping to clear 12 feet this year and I'm still working toward it.  I've had more bad days than good, but clearing 11-9 at GPS made up for a lot of bad ones," she said during a break from class earlier this week.

"I'm hoping to win next week as that's my goal.  I'm thinking that 11-6 will win, but we'll just have to wait and see," she added.

Wicks is the daughter of Tom and Kim Wicks who has been a standout member of the Baylor soccer team where she's lettered four years.  Her specialty in track is the hurdles, the 300 intermediates more specifically.

Victoria was the state champion last spring with a time of 45.03 seconds after finishing as the runner-up the year before.

She's been battling a bum ankle for several weeks and missed more than a month while receiving physical therapy.

"I was out a good month and it's been a struggle coming back, but I like the 300s because it's a longer race and they aren't as high," she smiled.

Wicks is also blessed with speed and at times has been part of all three Baylor sprint relay teams.  Her focus next week will be repeating as the 300 winner, so those relay spots may be taken by someone else.

 "I've had an amazing time at Baylor and I wish I had come here earlier, but I'm ready for the next level," Kaufman nodded.

"I love the opportunity that Baylor has provided for me.  It's just like a great big family," Wicks added.

Baylor coach Bill McMahan has coached more than his share of outstanding female track athletes at Baylor and these are just two more on that list.

"They're good ones.  They're both great athletes, but even better people," the veteran coach said later.

"We don't have that many seniors this year, but their leadership has been great, especially with the younger girls.  They lead by how they work as they both will do anything we ask.  I've never had two girls willing to work any harder than Kate and Victoria.

"Kate wants to win the state pole vault before she leaves and she has a good shot, but it all comes down to has the best day when it counts.

"Victoria won the 300s last year.  She's been hurt most of the season, but I want to give her the best chance to repeat.  I'm sure it will be a battle between her and Selena Popp," McMahan said in reference to another outstanding Baylor representative.

"Kate and Victoria are the kind of young ladies you want to represent Baylor.  They've been really good for us and I look forward to going to practice every day when I get to work with kids like them.  They know how to work," McMahan concluded.

The girls portion of the track and field competition will take place at MTSU's Dean Hayes Track & Field Stadium on Thursday. 

It could be an outstanding day for Kate Kaufman and Victoria Wicks, but whatever the results, it's been a great run for them both.

(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@Comcast.net)


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