Track and field quads heading to Jonesboro for SBC championships

Jonah Phillips

As the Toppers move into Jonesboro, Ark. this weekend for the Sun Belt Indoor Championships, there are many reasons expectations are high. Coach Erik Jenkins, however, just wants his “capable” team to execute.

WKU has had a very successful season up to this point.  The Toppers have broken personal records at every meet, had successful meet-title defenses, and three Toppers – senior Houston Croney, junior David Mokone, and senior Sharika Smith – have been named Sun Belt Conference track and field athletes of the week.

“We’ve got some really talented athletes, we just have to put it all together,” Jenkins said.

The coaching staff will look to its veteran athletes Sunday for leadership, and there are plenty on the team who are waiting to do just that.”

“We hope that (senior) Joseph Chebet and David Mokone will go out and compete well in the distance events,” Jenkins said.

Chebet notched four individual wins this season, as his teammate Mokone found similar success at the top of Sun Belt Conference.

Jenkins said Mokone has taken big individual steps forward this year.

“David is in better shape, his race strategy is a whole lot more efficient, and he can get in and move around in traffic a whole lot better than he could a year ago,” Jenkins said.  “I’m very happy with David’s improvements from a technical standpoint.”

Mokone said hard work in practice was important for his development this season.

“We have been consistently practicing high mileage, usually 70 miles a week,” Mokone said.

Jenkins also said he’s looking for Smith, who had a pair of third-place finishes in the conference championships last season, to step up in Jonesboro.

He said he’s looking for junior Elvyonn Bailey and junior Marcus Winstead to step up in the sprint events.

Both Baily and Winstead come in off impressive seasons, with most recently twelfth and tenth place showings, respectively, in the 400-meter dash at the SPIRE Invitational.

Jenkins said the throws team offers and intimidating attack on both the men’s and women’s side.

“We had the components of having a good group of throwers,” Jenkins said. “We recruited well.”

Croney and sophomore Travis Gerding lead the male throws attack, while junior Jessica Ramsey and junior Satrina Oliveira look to make an impact on the women’s side.

Jenkins pointed out three athletes that he hopes step up on Sunday.

“On the jump side we go three guys that we hope jump well, and that’s (sophomore) Cyrus Johnson—who  is competing in four events—freshman from Bowling Green Donovan Halsel, and (junior) transfer Derek Hill.”

WKU has a history of success at the conference championships.

Jenkins has captured 12 women’s titles and 10 men’s titles since he took the coaching reigns in Jan. 2008, producing a total of 22 all-Americans and five NCAA Championship qualifiers in 2012 alone.