Cross country moves forward after Greater Louisville Classic

Andrew Weigel

The WKU men’s and women’s cross country teams fought off soggy conditions at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park in the Greater Louisville Classic on Saturday as the men’s squad finished 19th and the women’s team finished 12th at the meet.

The meet featured one of the most challenging fields WKU will face all season, with Division I teams such as Tennessee, Louisville, Vanderbilt and Kentucky in attendance.

The Lady Toppers were led by sophomore Lindsey Hinken, who notched a career day in the 5K — her time of 17:55.10 earned her a 28th-place finish out of 288 runners. Saturday marked Hinken’s first time leading the Lady Topper runners this season and the fourth first place finish for WKU of her career.

Hinken was followed by sophomore Katie Lever (18:23.83, 72nd), junior Jodi Miller (18:40.12, 89th), sophomore Taylor Carlin (18:46.69, 98th) and sophomore Baylee Shofner (19:32.49, 189th).

Lever, Carlin and Shofner also recorded career-best finishes as the Lady Toppers placed 12th out of 20 Division I teams. Coach Erik Jenkins was encouraged by the Lady Toppers’ career days.

“The women ran very well as a group, and the top five all ran well,” Jenkins said. “There were several highly-ranked runners, and for them to all have career days like that is a positive.”

The Lady Toppers finished better than Sun Belt Conference rival Georgia State, the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Champion, and former conference foe Middle Tennessee.

The Toppers were led once again by junior David Mokone, his third time leading the team in as many meets this season. His time of 25:59.30 was good for a 98th-place finish out of 269 runners in the 8K race.

Sophomore Aaron Stevens continued his strong 2013 campaign, coming in second among Topper runners for the third time this season with a 164th-place finish at 26:42.86. Jenkins said he was pleased with Stevens’ performance.

“I’m happy with the progress Aaron has made this season,” Jenkins said. “He’s racing well.”

Stevens was followed by Kamohelo Mangoejane (28:36.00, 252nd), Lucas Atherton (30:38.42, 268th) and Joshua Amos (30:42.02, 269th).

With the Evansville Invitational coming up on Oct. 19 in Evansville, Jenkins said he is preparing his team for a field that will simulate the one they’ll see in the Sun Belt Conference Championships, which take place on Nov. 2.

“The Greater Louisville Classic had a large field with a lot of congestion,” Jenkins said. “This field will be more similar to the field we’ll face in the conference championships.”