March 9, 2011
Coming off of a personal-best performance at the Big 12 Indoor Championships where he placed third in the shot put with a throw of 63-4.75, sophomore thrower Hayden Baillio is full of confidence heading into the NCAA Indoor Championships. The All-American and four-time All-Big 12 selection knows a thing or two about competing on a national stage.
Last season, as a freshman, Baillio qualified for the NCAA Championships, both indoors and outdoors. During the indoor season, he finished 11th in the shot put and outdoors he earned All-American status by posting a sixth-place finish. Baillio looks to add to his long list of accolades this weekend in College Station, Texas at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Baillio took the time to sit down with TexasSports.com to discuss his sophomore season and the upcoming NCAA meet.
How does it feel to be going back to the NCAA Championships for the third time?
I'm really excited. I do think I have a lot of experience now with the national meets. I feel like that's to my advantage a lot. It's at A&M, which is kind of like a home court advantage for us. It's good and it's fun to have the opportunity to just go two hours away by bus ride and be able to throw at a place we threw three times last year. I'm excited about the atmosphere it's going to bring.
How have your first two experiences at NCAA meets helped prepare you for this weekend?
The first one, I didn't know what to expect. I went there and didn't do very well. You can't change it now and that's all right. The second one I knew what to expect. I went there and I got it done. It was fun to be a part of that. I feel like this time it's not going to be any different, but the expectations are higher.
What is the atmosphere like at a national meet?
I love the atmosphere. I love when there's a bunch of competition. This year just happens to be stacked with great throwers. I'm so excited for that. I feel like I'm going to have a big throw there. There are going to be a lot of big throws there. The crowd gets pumped up when the shot put happens. I can't wait for it.
You threw a personal best at Big 12 Indoors, what was that like?
Going into the meet I was feeling good. I was hitting marks in practice that I'd never hit. I was feeling really good. I got to the meet and I executed real well. I competed a little bit. I came out with a great series more importantly, not just the 63-foot throw. I was really happy with all of the throws and their distances and the consistency there. I knew from that meet that I'm ready to get a big one here hopefully.
What does a throw like that do for your confidence heading into NCAA's?
It's definitely a confidence booster. It's going to help me a lot. I have no worries right now. I'm just going to go there and do the same thing.
How has the coaching staff at UT helped you this year?
Last year I think it was a test run for all of us throwers. We didn't really know what to expect. We didn't know how to peak it right. This year the coaches have done a great job at peaking us for the right meets and when everything should happen. The coaches have done a great job in making sure that when we compete well it's at a meet that counts.
How is it having another thrower from Texas, Jacob Thormaehlen, competing with you?
I love it. I wish the third one could be there too. The fact that Jacob is there is awesome. He went to last chance and showed up. He did what he had to do to get the mark. He's going to be there now. It's going to be another thing to build off of - his energy and my energy. It's going to be fun.
How does it feel representing The University of Texas on a national stage?
It's awesome to wear the burnt orange. I'm glad I'm going to have another guy wearing the burnt orange there with me. The burnt orange just stands out. It's real fun. People look at you and are like, "Hey man, you're from Texas." It's an awesome opportunity. I can't wait.