WKU makes history at Sun Belt Championship

Lucas Aulbach

The WKU men’s track and field team made conference history when they secured the win at the Sun Belt Conference Track and Field Championship on Sunday.

The Toppers, who also won the conference cross country and indoor track and field championships this year, scored the first triple crown in conference history, becoming the first Sun Belt team to win all three championships in a single academic year.

Head Coach Erick Jenkins said winning all three conference titles was a great accomplishment for WKU.

“Obviously it’s something that hadn’t been done in league history so that puts our team in rare air, they say,” he said. “I’m very proud of the guys and I’m looking forward to keeping this kind of success up.”

Jenkins said the success of the men’s team is something he hopes WKU can build on in coming years. The biggest key, he said, is recruiting.

“You’ve got to be able to go out and still recruit at a very high level and get student-athletes that can come in and compete at the league and national levels,” Jenkins said. “I think this is a pretty good starting point but we’ve still got a long way to go.”

Sophomore David Mokone was a big part of the Toppers’ success. He came in first in the 800 and 1,500-meter runs and was named Most Outstanding Track Performer at the end of the week.

The Lady Toppers finished second at Sunday’s championship, ending up four points behind winner North Texas, but several athletes still took home honors.

Senior Monteka Flowers was named Most Outstanding Field Performer after taking first place in the women’s shot put and hammer throws. She also took second in the discus event.

Senior Monica Akello won the women’s 800-meter run, and the women’s 4×400-meter relay team earned all-league honors after finishing third in the event.

The 4×400 ended up being the key event for the Lady Toppers. They were tied with North Texas before falling in the event, dropping them to second overall.

Distance coach Michelle Scott called the second-place finish “bittersweet.”

“It came down to the 4×4, we were tied, and [North Texas] won and we came in third,” she said. “We were in it and we tried really hard but in the end, we made just a few more mistakes than them and I think that’s what cost us.”

The conference championship is the last time most of the members of the track and field teams will see action this season. A small number of athletes will compete in Jacksonville next weekend at the NCAA East Preliminaries to try and qualify for the upcoming NCAA National Championship in June.

Jenkins said even though the Sun Belt Championship is over, WKU isn’t done yet.

“We’re going to rest for a little while but we’re still training,” he said. “We’ll get down to Jacksonville at the early part of next weekend and attempt to secure people for the NCAA final rounds.”