Men take first, women fifth place at SBC Track and Field Championships

Jonah Phillips

This past weekend was one for the record books for the WKU track and field program as the men took home first place and the women finished in fifth place in the Sun Belt Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships.

There were plenty of highlights over the weekend in Jonesboro, Ark. –the WKU men earned first place, title, coach Erik Jenkins was named Sun Belt Conference Indoor Coach of the Year, and junior David Mokone earned his third-consecutive Most Outstanding Track Athlete and Top Point scorer of the contest.

“I’m very happy with the way the team competed as a whole,” Jenkins said. “On the women’s side, we are going to get better.  The men are young, and the future is exciting.”

Mokone successfully defended his mile run title with a time of 4:14, along with winning the 800-meter run with a time of 1:55.

“It feels so good,” Mokone said of his success this weekend, “I put in a lot of hard work, taking this semester one day at a time.  To know it pays off feels really good.”

Senior Joseph Chebet captured the fourth Sun Belt title of his career in blow-out fashion, with a dominate victory in the 5,000 meters. He finished over 16 seconds ahead of second place.

Junior Elvyonn Bailey secured the 400-meter dash title in his first conference championship meet, dashing his way to the fourth-fastest time in school history at 47.44 seconds. Bailey currently holds the second-fastest time in school history with a posting of 47.25 seconds at the Rod McCravy Memorial on Jan. 25.

Junior Marcus Winstead wasn’t far behind, finishing fourth in the event, while Chris Chamness placed sixth.

Jenkins said he was impressed with the way Bailey competed against strong competition.

“Elvyonn Bailey won an event that was very highly-contested, with NCAA top 10 caliber guys in the race,” Jenkins said.

Sophomore Travis Gerding capped off his attention-grabbing indoor season with a personal-record weight throw of 61-feet-9 ¾ inches — good enough for runner-up and all-SBC honors. Gerding improved from his best toss from last season by over seven feet and barely snuck past defending champion senior Houston Croney, who notched third-place finish.

Sophomore Cyrus Johnson grabbed three all-SBC honors on the weekend, finishing third in the high jump, triple jump and 55-meter hurdles. In the 55-meter hurdles, Johnson clocked a season-best time of 7.68 seconds to place third.

“I was very fortunate to be able to compete so well in the events that I did,” Johnson said.

The Lady Toppers finished in fifth place with 73 team points.

Senior Sharika Smith started off the day strong for the Lady Toppers, capturing the triple jump crown. She set the school record in the event at 42-feet-3 ½ inches in 2011. The title was the first for the All-American, who also earned runner-up honors in the long jump on Sunday.

Lindsey Hinken earned her first-career track all-conference honors with a third-place finish in the 5,000-meter run. Hinken was also named all-SBC at last fall’s cross country championships.

Sophomore thrower Satrina Oliveira blasted her previous personal record out of the water with a heave of  59-feet-9 ¾ inches, finishing in fourth-place. Oliveira’s throw was more than five feet longer than her previous personal best and the fourth longest in WKU history.

Smith, Mokone, Bailey, CChamness, Winstead and freshman Ja’Karyus Redwine will compete at this weekend’s Last Chance Meet hosted by Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.