Lady Toppers win seventh Sun Belt Conference indoor championship

WKU junior Chioma Agwunobi, left, and freshman Carrol Hardy, right, compete in the Women’s 60 Meter Dash at the Vanderbilt Indoor Invitational Track and Field on Saturday Jan. 25, 2014.(Jeff Brown/HERALD)

Jonah Phillips

The WKU women’s track and field team captured its seventh Sun Belt Conference Indoor Track and Field title in nine seasons Tuesday evening at the Birmingham Crossplex in Birmingham, Ala.

The victory was a landslide, with the Lady Toppers beating out second place by 48 points with an over-all score of 169.

The men’s team brought forth one of its best efforts as well, combining for 149 points and winning 5 different events.  They finished with runner-up honors after Sun Belt newcomers UT Arlington snagged gold with 185 points.

Coach Erik Jenkins now claims 24 Sun Belt Conference Championships between cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field since taking the program reigns in 2008.

“We knew going in which teams were aiming for their team score versus one’s who were focusing on individual athletes, but we were able to do a very good job across the board putting up national caliber numbers,” Jenkins said.

Senior thrower Jessica Ramsey secured her third-straight shot put crown with a Sun Belt and WKU record heave of 54 feet (16.47m). She also took first place in the weight throw with a toss of 63-feet-7 inches.

Ramsey’s shot put clip ranks 17th nationally, yet the competitor in Ramsey isn’t quite finished.

“I’m not happy with the way I performed, but I am thankful to come out on top,” Ramsey said. “It feels good to come so far.  I learned the weight throw in less than a year and I came out on top.  I’m very happy about that.”

Fellow senior Lexia Robinson earned runner-up honors in the shot put and Satrina Oliveira placed second in the weight throw.

The Hilltoppers were led by senior sprinter Elvyonn Bailey, whose two individual wins in the 200 and 400-meter dashes would spark inspiration amongst his teammates.

Bailey successfully defended his 400-meter dash title with a time of 47.19, all the while teammate Chris Chamness was second at 47.51. Bailey nabbed his first 200-meter dash crown with a speedy 21.18 clocking and was also part of WKU’s 4X400-meter relay that set a conference championship record in the relay with a clocking of 3:11.87.

Sophomore sprinter Ja’Karyus Redwine broke the 60-meter dash record he set in the preliminary round Monday night, finishing second with a time of 6.71 seconds.

Derrick Hill’s high jump leap of 7-feet-1 ¾ inches was good for the high jump crown and a school record. Hill’s leap ranks 20th nationally this season.

Junior pole vaulter Karleigh Parker won her second-career Sun Belt pole vault title with a school record vault of 12-feet-11 ½ inches (3.95m).

Senior Gelela Cooley came up big in the 400-meter dash, winning her first-career 400-meter crown in 54.91 after finishing runner-up the three previous seasons.

The NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship linger in the distance. By Mar. 4, all conference championship totals will be tallied, and WKU will find out which Toppers and Lady Toppers get an invite.

“The Sun Belt Conference ended a week early,” Jenkins explains, “so we still have a weekend to compete and improve our times to qualify for NCAA’s. We are still looking for a meet we could compete in this upcoming weekend.”

Jessica Ramsey, Elvyonn Bailey, Derrick Hill and the Hilltoppers 4X400-meter relay all currently rank Top 20 nationally in their respective events.  Typically, the Top 16-18 marks in the nation receive the invite.

“Mentally, I’m there” Ramsey explained in regards to prep for this final weekend, “I can visualize myself doing it perfectly, I just have to do it.  I know I have it in me, no doubt. No question.”