Track and Field carries national ranking into Sun Belt Championships

WKU freshman Klara Michalska competes in the women’s 100m Hurdles Saturday at the Hilltopper Relays. (Luke Franke/HERALD)

Jonah Phillips

The WKU track and field program will travel down to San Marcos, Texas for the Sun Belt Conference Championships in a fashion they have not yet done before with the women’s squad  ranked 22nd nationally.

“It all starts with recruiting, I don’t care how good of a coach you are,” head coach Erik Jenkins said of the national ranking. “There is an old saying that says ‘you don’t bring a donkey to the Kentucky Derby.’  Well the same goes for track and field.”

This marks the first time the women’s program has been voted by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association as being one of the top 25 programs in the country.  The men’s program has not achieved this feat since the mid 1970’s.

“What we have is an excellent coaching staff across the board to match the level of talent we are developing,” Jenkins said—referring to the different event coaches on staff. “There are many parts to this team that all need to be working to find success, and we’ve been able to do that this season.”

The Lady Toppers currently sport six marks that rank top 30 in the NCAA.

“Being ranked in the top 25 is a huge honor for the entire program,” Jenkins said.  “It shows how solid our student-athletes are across the board—not just in specific events.”

Senior thrower Jessica Ramsey currently ranks in the top 25 in the shot put and discus after shattering school records almost weekly in both events this season.

Her shot put clip of 57’4.75 ranks third nationally and more recently, her discus throw of 176’8 at the Arkansas State Open slotted her a 22nd national ranking.

The national attention of the women’s side does not stop at Ramsey—who has clenched a staggering seven Sun Belt Conference Female Field Athlete of the Week awards in 2014, with four coming in the indoor season and three other in the outdoor season.

Teammate and fellow senior thrower Lexia Robinson won the discus at the Kentucky Relays in mid-April with a heave of 173-feet-9 inches.  This shattered recent alum Monteka Flowers’ record by more than three feet and marked the longest throw in the Sun Belt Conference this season.

She currently ranks 29th nationally in the discus.

Triple Jumpers France Makabu and Ana Camargo’s triple jump leap of 43’3 (13.18m), which ranks fifth in the nation.  The two senior international students from France and Guatemala, respectively, tied for second place at the Hilltopper Relays with this mark.

The limelight does not belong all to the upperclassmen either—there is a new wave of Hilltopper track and field athletes already making national headlines.

Freshman sprinter Carrol Hardy ranks 23rd in the NCAA in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.41 seconds.  Much like the triple jump duo, Hardy etched this mark at the Hilltopper relays.

On the men’s side, the relay teams look to make a huge impact this weekend.

At the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif., the Hilltoppers’ 4X100-meter relay consisting of Emmanuel Dasor, Ventavius Sears, Ja’Karyus Redwine and Elvyonn Bailey posted a 40.22 second clocking to best the field at what Jenkins describes as one of the “more elite” meets in the country.

“The work has been done,” Jenkins said of the team’s training going into the meet.  “We backed off our heavy training about three weeks ago.  These past three weeks we have really been honing the little things that you need to be successful in a meet.”