Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams had less-than-stellar performances this weekend in Nashville at the season-opening Belmont Opener.
The men placed fifth out of a pool of nine teams in the 5K, while the women were fifth out of eight teams in the women’s 4K.
Other teams competing included Tennessee, Kentucky, Belmont, Kennesaw State, Vanderbilt, the Nashville Harriers, Lipscomb and Sun Belt rival Middle Tennessee State.
“I think we did OK considering it was the first race,” women’s distance coach Michelle Murphy Scott said. “There is a lot of room for improvement.”
The Lady Toppers’ race was narrowly taken by Vanderbilt, with a team score of 33. Kentucky was right at their heels with a team score of 34.
Lindsey Hinken’s 22nd place finish was the highest for any of the Lady Toppers. She finished the 4K in 15:32.6 minutes.
Junior Kim Dominguez came in 26th place with a time of 15:46.10, and senior Vasity Chemweno came in 28th place with a time of 15:54.8.
“I knew (Hinken) was going to do really well,” Scott said. “It was other people that didn’t live up to expectations.”
Scott described Chemweno, one of two seniors on the Lady Topper squad, as a “huge” part of the team.
“I don’t think (Chemweno) is satisfied with her finish,” Scott said. “It’s not something I am satisfied with either.”
But with Chemweno’s absence from both indoor and outdoor track this past season, Scott remains optimistic about the senior.
“She hasn’t run since last November,” Scott said, “so Vasity will continue to get better each week.”
Head Coach Erik Jenkins said the Belmont Opener “went OK.”
“Obviously there is a lot of work to do on (the men and women’s teams), but the kids came out to compete,” Jenkins said.
On the men’s side, senior transfer Joseph Chebet made quite the start for his WKU debut, finishing 2nd in his race with a time of 15:18.7.
“It was a great start,” Jenkins said, “He knows where he needs to be. He needs to just continue to work hard to get there.”
Other top finishers for the Toppers were sophomore David Mokone, who came in 7th place with a time of 15:42.5 and sophomore Sean Hurd, who came in 20th with a time of 16:05.2.
Jenkins said the entire WKU cross country team wasn’t satisfied with the way things went in Nashville.
“I don’t think anybody is content with this finish,” Jenkins said. “Both teams know this was the opener, and it was time to just get the ‘jitters’ out of the way and get a chance to race when you haven’t raced in months.”
The Toppers will travel back to Nashville on the 15th for the Commodore Classic and are hoping to have a better showing.
“We are looking forward to being successful down the road,” Jenkins said. “We just need to be healthy when conference, regionals and nationals roll around.”