Lady Toppers claim C-USA outdoor crown, men take third

WKU sophomore Carorol Hardy, center, leads fellow Topper sprinters Sandra Akachukwu, left, and Peli Alzora in the 100-meter dash during the Hilltopper Relays in Bowling Green, Ky., on Saturday, April 11, 2015.Nick Wagner/HERALDNick Wagner/HERALD


After claiming the 2015 Conference USA outdoor championships, the Lady Topper track and field team has now claimed eight conference titles in the past 10 seasons.

The championship marks Head Coach Erik Jenkins’ 27th championship (across indoor, outdoor, and cross country) since taking the reigns in 2008.

With three different athletic platforms to pull honors from, Jenkins received his 17th conference coach of the year award on Sunday despite only serving as head coach on the Hill for the past seven years—an average of 2.43 coach of the year nods per year.

“The Conference USA is a deeper league,” Head Coach Erik Jenkins said going into championship play. “The top is a lot higher than it was in the Sun Belt in the years that we were there.  Again, it is just about showing up and beating the teams you are supposed to, and trying to beat the teams that you are not.”

Led by seniors Chioma Agwunobi and Karleigh Parker as well as sophomore Carrol Hardy, the WKU women’s side racked up 157 points in the four-day event hosted by the University of Texas, El Paso. 

Agwunobi continued her senior outdoor campaign as the conference championship’s leading scorer, tabbing 29.25 of the Lady Toppers 157 points.

In her home state, Agwunobi—a Houston native—won the long jump with a WKU-record leap of 6.82 meters as well as claimed the 200-meter dash with a first-place clocking of 23.14 seconds.

Sophomore Carrol Hardy won the 100-meter dash with a clocking of 11.45 seconds, and Agwunobi was right at her heels with a second place finish of 11.48 seconds.

In the 200-meter dash that was won by Agwunobi, Hardy finished just at her heels in second place with a 23.21 clocking.

Karleigh Parker now has three individual conference titles in her career on the Hill—though the win she captured this season was in a different fashion. 

The Ontario, Canada native has two previous conference titles from the Sun Belt in the pole vault. This year she captured a javelin title in the C-USA with a heave of 43.28 meters.

Parker wasn’t the only Lady Topper on the medal stand in the javelin either, as Antonia Susnjar captured third place with a 41.66-meter toss and joined her.

On UTEP’s own Kidd Track, the Lady Toppers bested the home team by just nine points—the Lady Miners pulled in an impressive 148 points.

Behind the top two women’s squads there was a sharp drop in point accumulation, with Rice claiming third place with a point total of just 76.  Third place Rice (76) and fourth place Charlotte (64) combined for 140 points, which collectively still would put neither team above the top two finishing programs.

With a noticeable deficit in point total’s across the board on the women’s side, the men’s outdoor championships proved to be a tighter contest as the days of competition passed.

Going into the final day of competition, the Hilltoppers held a slim point advantage, but were within single-digit points of falling behind UTEP and the University of Texas, San Antonio. Just two points going into the 4×400-meter relay—the last event of the meet—separated the three squads.

The Hilltoppers finished third in that event behind the aforementioned programs from Texas, and accordingly took third place in the meet.

Sophomore Emanuel Dasor spearheaded the Hilltopper charge in the sprints, hauling in a personal title in the 200 and 400-meter dashes.

The 200-meter dash proved opportunity for multiple Hilltoppers to bring in points for the squad.

Ventavius Sears finished second in the 200-meter dash behind Dasor’s clocking of 20.61 seconds with a finish of 20.83 seconds.

Dasor ran a leg WKU’s 4×100 and 4×400-meter relays, and Sears ran a leg in the 4×100-meter relay.

While the 4×400-meter relay finished third and put the Hilltoppers definitively in third place for the meet, the 4×100-meter relay captured gold.

Dasor and Sears combined in the 4×100 with junior Ja’Karyus Redwine and freshman Corey Parks to clock in at 39.35—nearly half a second better than second-place Louisiana Tech’s clocking of 39.82.

Sophomore distance runner Endalow Takele captured gold in the 10,000-meter run and second place in the 5,000.

In five of the past seven seasons, WKU collectively has sent a minimum of 15 student-athletes to the preliminary championships between the men’s and women’s side.  

This year’s NCCA East Preliminary Championships will be held in Jacksonville, Florida on May 28-30.  A full list of participating WKU student-athletes is expected to be announced in the coming days.

“At the end of the day, we just want to go out and be successful in the meet,” Jenkins said looking past the conference championships and towards NCAA championship competition. “If we get the qualifying marks—great—but at this point is all about scoring points.”