Track and field squads face busy weekend

Jonah Phillips

WKU will look to extend its hot start to the semester this weekend as the Topper squads will split up and head to separate meets.

WKU’s top performers, such as seniors David Mokone and Shakira Smith, will go to Geneva, Oh., for the SPIRE Invitational.  The rest of the squad will be traveling Sunday to Murfreesboro, Tenn., again, this time for the MTSU Valentine Invitational.

Expectations are high as usual, as the Toppers have had a successful season thus far and last year’s trip to Geneva yielded nine top-ten finishes. One of those was a win from Mokone in the 800-meter, breaking the WKU record in that indoor event.

WKU is hot off a successful trip to Murfreesboro Tenn., where the Toppers claimed five first-place and five second-place finishes.

The Toppers will bring more than just a speed attack to the meet.

Senior Houston Croney barrels into Geneva sporting a record this season that has drawn national attention.

Croney and the rest of the WKU throws team all set personal records in their first meet back in early December at the Middle Tennessee Christmas Invitational – he and his throwing mates haven’t looked back since.

Croney attributes his success thus far to new throws coach Ashley Muffet Duncan.

“Her impact this far has been very good,” Croney said. “Her system is working well with the athletes that we have.”

Sophomore Cyrus Johnson is coming into the weekend hot.  The Florida native is coming off a second place finish in the 55-meter dash in the MTSU invitation last weekend and a win in the high jump in Lexington the weekend before that.

Johnson said the coaching staff has been working with the Toppers to prepare for the meet.

“The coaches work ethics for this weekend are explosion, endurance, and focusing on the prize,” he said.

The Lady Topper squad is also looking to make its presence felt this weekend.   

The WKU charge will be led by Shakira Smith, who won the triple jump last weekend with a leap of 40-feet-5 inches. The mark was the second-longest jump in the Sun Belt Conference this season.

“This is going to be one of the best facilities to perform great at,” Smith said. “My goals are to PR in all four events and try to qualify for nationals in the long and triple jump.”

Smith isn’t the only Lady Topper likely to appear on opponents’ scout sheets, though. The Lady Toppers strung together four titles last weekend.

Coach Erik Jenkins said his squads are using these early meets to prepare for the Sun Belt championship at the end of the year.

“We’re continuing to improve and learning valuable lessons in race strategy,” Jenkins said. “We’re doing the kinds of things that we need to be doing to be successful come championship time.”