Cross country set to open season in Nashville

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

On Friday, the WKU men’s and women’s cross-country teams will be packing their bags for Nashville, where they’ll be competing in the Belmont Opener for the start of the 2014-2015 season.

Both teams will be racing at Percy Warner Park for the second consecutive year. The race will be classified as a regular season bout, but the distances will be shorter in comparison.  

Head Coach Erik Jenkins said the opener will give the team a decent gauge as to where they are and what they need to be working on.

“You can go all out and try to be the Belmont champion, but it doesn’t mean anything if you’re not the Conference USA champion later on down the road,” Jenkins said. “So it’s a constant building process. We want to go out and have a good showing and keep building towards the ultimate goal, which is to win championships and advance people to the NCAAs, but you need these meets to build the strength and stamina and also, the race patterns, to be successful.”

Many of the returnees from last year, including Katie Lever, are confident they won’t disappoint in the opener, which was also the case a season ago.

“The bar was set so high last year that there’s no excuse to not reach them this year and exceed them, really,” Lever said.

There will be a lot of new faces competing for both the women and men. However, sophomore Peter Agaba, who was the second-best freshman in the conference championship last year and finished in the top-10, is returning. Senior Sean Hurd, who was injured last season, and senior David Mokone, who placed fifth in the opener last season, are also returning.  

Some of the teams competing on Friday include Purdue, Murray State, Vanderbilt, Tennessee State, Belmont and other regional teams. The women’s race will start at 5:30 p.m. CDT and the men’s will start at 6:30 p.m. CDT.

“Everybody is competing, we’re just going to go out and race to the best of our ability,” Jenkins said. “At that time, we will work to being ready in November.”