WKU cross country finishes in middle of the pack at Pre-National event

WKU sophomore cross country runners Baylee Shofner and Taylor Carlin compete in the Vanderbilt Commodore Classic on Sept. 14, 2013. Luke Franke/HERALD

Alexus Richardson

Unfavorable weather dampened the course conditions in Terre Haute, Indiana at the Pre-National Invitational this weekend, but that didn’t stop the WKU men’s and women’s cross country teams from turning in impressive finishes.

Helicopters were brought in on Friday to dry out some of the moisture, but this was no stumbling block for the Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers, who were practicing in rainy conditions leading up to the race.

The teams wrapped up their regular season successfully, with junior Katie Lever leading the Lady Toppers for the fifth-straight meet and sophomore Peter Agaba turning in the top finish for the Hilltoppers. The women came in at No. 18 out of the 33 teams. The men finished 16th out of 28 teams.

In the women’s 6k White Race, Lever came in ninth place for the fifth top-10 finish of her career, recording a time of 21:49.60. Junior Taylor Carlin was also a help to the Lady Toppers, coming in with a time of 23:02.80.

Lever said the team has trained for poor weather conditions and other adverse situations.

 “We train ourselves to go through that kind of pain,” Lever said. “It sounds kind of morbid, but pain becomes second nature to us. It just doesn’t affect us as much. After a while, you become kind of numb to it. I find strength in God because I know, even when life’s difficult, the body will fail, but he never will.”

Agaba led the way for the men’s team for the first time, placing No. 49 of 192 with a time of 26:00.80. Senior David Mokone and junior Aaron Stevens were also top finishers for the men with times of 26:02.80 and 26:18.60, respectively.

As the teams prepare for conference championships, they’re continuing to have early practices, building momentum and figuring out their strengths and weaknesses.

“The only expectation we have is to go out and do what we can do, give it our best and not leave anything on that course,” Lever said. “Once we break the barriers we need to, it’s going to be amazing. Because once you do it once, you can do it again. So, for us, it’s just a matter of when we’re going to have that break out race, and conference is the perfect stage for that.”

The Conference USA Cross Country Championships, which are hosted by North Texas, are set to take place on Nov. 1 in Denton, Texas