Historic season leads WKU into C-USA championships

Senior Jatavia Wright clears a hurdle during the WKU Hilltopper Relays April 11, 2015 at Charles M. Rueter Track and Field Complex. Ashley Cooper/HERALD

Alexus Richardson

A successful WKU Track and Field regular season has come to an end, and in exactly one week, the program will head to El Paso, Texas for their inaugural outdoor Conference USA Championships. 

This season the team has earned more than 50 C-USA honors, countless wins in their respective events, broken school records and the men were ranked in the top 25 in the USTFCCCA poll the week of March 25. 

“I’ve seen steady improvement over the weeks and this next month will be crucial for us,” Head Coach Erik Jenkins said. “We plan on staying healthy, and getting as many people in the finals- all the works been done now its about executing.” 

According to Jenkins, for each event the team has one player who can dominate at the conference level. 

For the men’s distance, sophomore Endalow Takele is expected to play a lead role for the team. Takele only raced five times during the outdoor season as a freshman, but still managed to place third or higher in four out of the five races. 

“Everyone had to do their best at the indoor meet—but somebody who really had to was Takele competing against UTEP guys that were All-Americans. With some pretty good runners, he was able to hold his own,” Jenkins said. 

After breaking records at the Bellarmine Relays, senior Travis Gerding was able to come back the next week and top that record with a toss of 199 feet-6 inches at the Kentucky Relays. 

The team will be competing against the University of Texas at San Antonio who, according to Coach Jenkins, will earn most of their points in throws. The throwers are expecting a good meet to neutralize the points of their competition.  

Sprints will play a huge part in the championships. Jenkins maintains that the C-USA is one of the three fastest leagues in the NCAA along with the Big 12 Conference and the Southern Connecticut Conference. 

Junior sprinter Ja’Karyus Redwine said he’s feeling pretty confident in the team’s ability to win crown. 

Redwine was recognized with Indoor All Sun-Belt Conference honors in the 60- meter run and ran second place in the 200- meter dashes. He’s also been a key factor in the men’s 4×400 meter relay that earned the fifth fastest time at one most elite regular season meets with a time of 3:05.95. 

“I think we have what it takes, everybody just has to come together and get the job done because we know its crunch time— I got injured last year right before conference and I learned to not be hesitant, but to give it your all,” Redwine said. 

Redwine was also injured this season at the Penn Relays, preventing him from running in the Kentucky Relays, and is still recovering but has had healing treatment twice a day since then. 

“We think he will be okay and if he can have a good weekend I think it will really take us a long way,” Coach Jenkins said. 

The Lady Toppers will be competing as well and have had several women earn female field athlete of the week, including senior pole vaulter Karleigh Parker and sophomore sprinter Carrol Hardy. 

Hardy has earned back-to-back wins in the regular season at the Hilltopper Relays and Florida Relays. She competed in the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash coming in at 11.60 and 23.91 respectively.  

Parker made her last year as a Hilltopper well worthwhile, earning C-USA Female Field Athlete of the week four times in 2015— twice in outdoor and twice in indoor.  

Accoroding to Coach Jenkins, senior Jodi Miller on distance looks like the person whose getting it done for the team. 

He is expecting a few more people to step up in some places but realizes the distance runners have lingering physical injuries. 

“Both teams have a long road to haul in this league, its very competitive, but it all comes down to are you good enough to beat people on that day, at that time, and if we can we will be successful,” Coach Jenkins said.