Runners compete at Commodore Classic

Andrew Weigel

Behind the legs of juniors David Mokone and Jodi Miller, the WKU men’s and women’s cross country teams posted team finishes of 14th and 7th, respectively, at the Commodore Classic on Saturday.

The Toppers returned to Nashville’s Percy Warner Park, where they ran in the Belmont Opener on Aug. 30. The field of runners was deeper this time around, with more than twice as many teams in the men’s and women’s races.

Coach Erik Jenkins was pleased with his teams’ performances in such a large meet.

“They did a good job of racing in a big meet with many runners,” said Jenkins. “That will pay off down the road in conference play.”

The Lady Toppers, led by Miller’s 34th-place finish in the 5,000-meter race, had a balanced attack once again, with all five runners finishing in the top 70. All the women finished the race in under 19 minutes, which Jenkins said was a goal for them coming into the meet.

Miller, in her first career meet as a Lady Topper, finished with a time of 18:10.80. She is a junior college transfer from Iowa Central Community College, where she was a 13-time All-American and led Iowa Central to back-to-back cross country national championships in her two years.

Jenkins said he is looking forward to what Miller can bring to the team.

“She comes from an extremely successful junior college program in Iowa Central,” Jenkins said. “They produce good runners every year and she brings some experience to our young team.”

Sophomore Louise Hill-Stirling kept up her strong 2013 campaign, posting a 39th-place finish and coming in second among the Lady Toppers. She finished in 18:16.28, besting her finish at the Belmont Opener by more than 30 seconds.

The Toppers were led once again by Mokone, who tallied a sixth-place finish with a time of 25:21.82. The meet marked the eighth time in his career Mokone has recorded a top-ten finish, and the second time in two meets this season.

Sophomore Aaron Stevens posted a time of 26:14.58, good for 58th-place overall and second among Topper runners. Stevens was the only other WKU runner to finish in the top-100, with Joshua Price (144th-place), junior Kamohelo Mangojeane (149th-place) and sophomore Lucas Atherton (157th-place) rounding out top five runners.

Jenkins is pleased with the progress his teams are making and said he was happy with how they competed against tough competition.

“They went out and ran competitively,” said Jenkins, “I really liked their work ethic out there.”

The runners will return to action on Oct. 5 when they head to Louisville to compete in the Greater Louisville Classic at Tom Sawyer Park.