WKU cross country tallies pair of top-5 finishes at conference championship

Bultfontein, South Africa senior David Mokone and Uganda sophomore Peter Agaba run in the Greater Louisville Classic at Tom Sawyer Park in Louisville on Oct. 4. Justin Gilliland/HERALD

Alexus Richardson

After months of strenuous practice and early morning races, the WKU men’s and women’s cross country teams strutted their stuff in the program’s first Conference USA Championship on Saturday in Denton, Texas at Eagle Point Cross Country Course.

Despite the absence of junior Lindsey Hinken — an all-conference performer a season ago — the Lady Toppers were still able to muster a fourth-place team finish with 142 points out of 13 teams. Senior David Mokone led the way for the men’s fifth-place finish with 153 points out of 11 teams.

Mokone’s finishing time of 24:51.7 ranked 12th overall of the 78 runners, which earned him all-conference honors for the fourth-straight season. Sophomore Peter Agaba recorded the second-best time on the men’s side at 25:24.1. Freshman Endalow Takele came in third at 25:36.9 and senior Sean Hurd came in fourth with a time of 25:51.5.

For the Lady Toppers, junior Katie Lever tallied a career-best 5k time of 17:09.1 and was named First Team All-Conference USA. Junior Taylor Carlin came in second for the women and 25th overall with a time of 17:59.5 and senior Jodi Miller placed third for WKU coming in at 18:13.1

“Our senior Jodi Miller really stepped up this race, if it wasn’t for her we probably wouldn’t have won fourth,” Assistant Coach Taylor Miller said.

The Eagle Point Cross Country Course was unfamiliar to both teams, but it was no stumbling block for the men or women, who raced on a variety of different courses in the regular season.

“For the girls, it was tough going in without Lindsey (Hinken) but everybody across the board, all eight who ran, ran personal bests in cross country. So far this was the best they’ve ever done. A fourth-place finish is never good enough for WKU, but given the circumstances, I am extremely proud of all the girls and how they really rallied together.”

For the upcoming weeks, the teams will be focusing on their maintenance and strategy for the upcoming NCAA Southeast Regional, which will be held in Louisville on Nov. 14 at Tom Sawyer Park.