Hilltoppers split achievements in Louisville, Philadelphia

Ventavius Sears leaps toward the sand pit during the triple jump competition in the Hilltopper Relays Saturday at the Charles M. Ruter Track and Field Complex in Bowling Green. Sears took first with a personal-record jump of 51-feet-6.5 inches. Nick Wagner/HERALD

Alexus Richardson

As a split team, the WKU track and field program was able to string together some wins at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, and the Bellarmine Invitational in Louisville.  

At the Bellarmine Invitational, the meet saw an hour delay due to unfavorable weather conditions, but the lapse didn’t rattle any of the Hilltoppers. 

Senior thrower Travis Gerding tossed a WKU and personal record in the hammer throw with a heave of 198-feet-4 inches.

His throw stands as the second-longest mark in the Conference USA this season, and moves him past Brian Soverns in the Hilltopper record books by nearly five feet, with the former record standing at 193-feet-11 inches since 2010. 

Senior pole-vaulter Karleigh Parker remained a key element to the team as she grabbed another win in the pole vault—the 12th of her career with a leap of 12- feet-5.25 inches.

In total, the Hilltoppers managed seven individual wins in Louisville. 

At the Penn Relays, which Head Coach Erik Jenkins referred to as the “granddaddy of all meets,” the men’s 4×400 team showed off not only their skills, but their strategy as well.

Competing against all top 10 teams including LSU, Texas A&M, Clemson, Texas, Pittsburg, Univ. of South Carolina, GC Foster a team out of Jamaica and St. Augustine, WKU was able to finish fifth, beating Texas, Pittsburgh, South Carolina and GC Foster.

The Hilltoppers’ fifth place finish in the elite field clocked in at 3:08.36.

“I think our guys handled themselves very well especially with the majority of them being freshman and sophomores,” Jenkins said.

 Just five Hilltoppers traveled to Philadelphia this weekend.  

In the qualifying heat, Jenkins selected the succession of Ja’Karyus Redwine starting off and ending with Ventavius Sears.

However, in the finals to take home a 4×400 relay fifth place showing, the team started with Ventavius Sears, then to Emmanuel Dasor, Grant Swinton and finished with Lemanuel Mosley.  

Jenkins suggested that for the majority of the schools that WKU competes with at top-tier meets, the teams in some cases have the depth of 8-10 people to rotate with.

“We hope to make mistakes now in hope for perfection later,” Jenkins said. 

In final preparation for conference championships the teams will be joined together next week to compete in Lexington, Kentucky at the Kentucky Relays.