Chemweno ready to run for title

Senior cross country runner Vasity Chemweno comes from Eldoret, Kenya, also known as the City of Champions. “Everyone who runs in Kenya comes form that city,” Chemweno said. That includes teammate Marion Kandie, one of WKU’s top women’s runners.

Jonah Phillips

Vasity Chemweno’s rise from a Kenyan farm to the top of the Sun Belt Conference could culminate in a cross country title on Saturday.

The senior runner will be one of the favorites to take home individual honors this weekend when WKU competes at the Sun Belt Cross Country Championships across town at Kereiakes Park.

One year ago, Chemweno finished fourth individually in the event, while the Lady Toppers finished first as a team.

She’s shooting for an even better result this time around.

“The coaches have done an amazing job preparing us,” Chemweno said. “My goal is for everybody to stay healthy and have a good race.”

A Sun Belt championship would be the perfect way for the self-described “adventure kid” to cap off her Sun Belt career.

Chemweno grew up in a “humble” rural setting in Eldoret, Kenya.

Chemweno, the eldest of six kids, spent much of her childhood running around on the family farm.

“I used to explore new places within our farm,” she said. “…I was always on the move, chasing any animal that came my way.”

It was in Chemweno’s sixth grade P.E. class when teachers realized her running talent and told her to pursue track and field competitively.

But it was high school track that “played a crucial role” in molding Chemweno’s future.

Chemweno ran in high school alongside three future Olympians — Vivian Cheruiyot, Janeth Chepkosgei and Viola Kibiwott.

 “I remember this experience motivated me and gave me a perception that I never had about running,” Chemweno said. “My coach pushed me harder, and he is the person who actually brought me to the U.S. as a student-athlete.”

Chemweno ran first at Rend Lake Junior College. While there, she won the 1,500 meters at the 2009 NJCAA Outdoor Championship, placed fourth in the 800 meters, and was a member of the third-place 4×400-meter relay team.

She’s found more success since coming to WKU and has posted three top 10 finishes in six meets in 2011.

But the start to her senior season was less than stellar, as WKU finished middle-of-the-pack in its first two meets.

She responded on Oct. 13 with a win at the Fast Cats Classic in Owensboro, her first individual victory in a WKU uniform.

Women’s distance coach Michelle Scott said she expects Chemweno to carry that momentum to Kereiakes Park on Saturday.

“Vasity has been training harder and harder each week,” Scott said. “She will continue to get better through conferences and nationals.”