Hinken, Mokone lead WKU at SBC Championships

Andrew Weigel

The WKU men’s and women’s cross country teams got strong performances out of junior David Mokone and sophomore Lindsey Hinken in the Sun Belt Conference Championships in Troy, Ala., on Saturday, helping to propel the men to a No. 5 finish and a No. 3 finish for the Lady Toppers.

Mokone became the third Topper runner in the last four years to capture the men’s individual Sun Belt Cross Country title with a time of 25:20.4, joining Shadrack Kipchirchir and Joseph Chebet as recent Topper champions.

His win in the 8K race marks his first career Sun Belt Conference title in cross country to go along with his seven track and field titles. His performance earned him the Most Outstanding Performer Award and First-Team All-Sun Belt honors. In cross country and track and field, Mokone now has eight individual Sun Belt titles, four Most Outstanding Performer awards and has been named All-Sun Belt Conference 14 times in his career.

Coach Erik Jenkins said Mokone peaked at the right time.

“David has done a good job all year of navigating the courses, and I think this one may have been his best of the year,” Jenkins said.

Freshman Peter Agaba finished eighth in the men’s heat, coming in at 25:56.4. He was second among freshman runners and captured second-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors for his performance.

“Peter Agaba competed well, finishing in the top-ten and being the second fastest freshman in the field is great,” Jenkins said.

Aaron Stevens (No. 26), Kamohelo Mangoejane (No. 52) and Lucas Atherton (No. 63) rounded out the Toppers scoring.

The Toppers finished No. 5 in the team standings with 145 points. Texas-Arlington won the team title with 23 points.

The Lady Toppers were led by sophomores Lindsey Hinken and Katie Lever, who both captured top-five finishes in the women’s 5K race. The Lady Toppers were the only team to boast two top-five finishers, as Hinken finished at 17:47.8 — good for second place — and Lever finished fourth with a time of 18:03.3.

Both runners earned first-team All-Sun Belt honors. It was Hinken’s second time earning the award in her two years as a Lady Topper and Lever’s first.

Assistant coach Taylor Miller had plenty of praise for the two women after the meet.

“Katie Lever and Lindsey Hinken were awesome out there — it was cool to watch,” Miller said. “They’ve both had magical seasons. They’re incredible young women and are dedicated in every aspect of their lives. They don’t fear anything and are a great example of what can happen if you work hard.”

Jenkins said he was pleased with their performances as well.

“For them to finish so well at the Evansville Invitational and come back and finish top-five in the Conference Championships is great,” Jenkins said.

The Lady Toppers placed third in the team standings with 68 points. Arkansas State won the women’s team title with 50 points. The women’s individual champion was ASU’s Kristina Aubert with a time of 17:28.2.

Junior Jodi Miller and sophomores Taylor Carlin and Baylee Shofner all posted top-25 finishes for the Lady Toppers.