Hopes are high for the men and women’s cross country teams going into this weekend’s Sun Belt Conference Championships, which will take place this year at Bowling Green’s own Kereiakes Park.
Last year WKU swept the event, with the women earning their sixth consecutive conference championship.
“Familiarity is always good, so we’re thankful we can host the championships here at home and be in friendly surroundings,” coach Erik Jenkins said. “Obviously we want to be successful, and what better place to do it than at home?”
The men’s team has found a lot of individual success this season through senior Joseph Chebet, who has been named SBC cross country runner of the week three times this season.
“What Joseph has been able to accomplish is quite phenomenal,” Jenkins said.
There are more names to the Topper squad than just Chebet, the coach said, including sophomore David Mokone.
“David is an athlete that is driven to compete on a national level,” Jenkins said.
Much is also expected of senior Kyle Chettleburgh, who made his season debut at the pre-NCAA championships two weeks ago after nursing a hamstring injury. He finished third for the Toppers and 179th overall.
Coach Michelle Scott has high hopes for the Lady Topper squad as well.
“You never know what’s going to happen at a conference championship,” Scott said, “But two weeks ago we ran the best we have all season as a team, and we are looking forward to this weekend.”
Vasity Chemweno won the contest two weeks ago and is looking forward to extending her success through the postseason.
“The coaches have done an amazing job at preparing us for this weekend,” Chemweno said. “During training we don’t just run. Our coaches also talk to us on what we need to improve on. It’s both physical and mental preparation.”
Scott said the stakes are high for the Lady Toppers.
“The ‘six-in-a-row’ is a lot of pressure for everybody,” Scott said. “It’s hard to throw such a young team in there and say ‘let’s win this.’”
Freshman Lindsey Hinken said she thinks Scott has prepared the team.
“I think Coach Scott has prepared us very well,” Hinken said. “She knows what she’s doing because she’s been around the sport for a long time. We’re confident in her training and that she’s prepared us for what we need to do.”
Jenkins said he is confident heading into the home meet.
“We believe that we’ve got a good foundation of young talent that we need to start maturing quickly,” Jenkins said. “Our schedule has dictated that we can have success here in the next couple of weeks.”