WKU to host Hilltopper Relays this weekend

Brianne Porter makes her way through the water jump portion of the 2000-meter steeplechase during the Vanderbilt Black & Gold Invite March 25.

Chela Counts

Throughout the week, you may have noticed facility managers assembling bleachers and cutting grass at the Charles M. Ruter Track Complex, preparing for this weekend’s “Hilltopper Relays.”

This relay is WKU’s only home meet for the outdoor season, one Head Coach Erik Jenkins said he is proud of.  

“I like to be on the road. I like to take the kids to experience different places and quality competition, but at the same time, it’s great to run in front of family, friends and alumni,” Jenkins said. “The more meets we can have at home, the more people can come back and support the program, because I think our program has performed at a high level, and we’ll continue to do better, but we oftentimes don’t get to showcase that because we are always on the road.”

WKU has hosted the relay since 2008, but this year the Bowling Green community can expect to see something new.

Elementary students in both Warren County and Bowling Green Independent school systems will compete in a 100-meter dash to see who will be crowned the “Fastest Kid in Bowling Green.”  

“Usually at the Drake Relays or Penn Relays, there’s always another component to the meet …whether it’s elementary age or high school age competition at the meet, I just felt like there was nothing like that for this area,” Jenkins said.

“I decided to extend it to people here in Bowling Green and Warren County, and I got with our Media Relations folks, and they got behind it, so here we are with the first ‘Fastest Kid in Bowling Green.’”

Teams scheduled to compete at the Relays include Bellarmine, Central Michigan, Eastern Illinois, Marshall, Murray State, SEMO, SIU-Edwardsville, Tiffin and Vincennes.

For senior sprinter Cailean Robinson, this will only be his second outdoor meet for the season. After suffering a hamstring injury during the Sun Belt Conference Indoor Championships, Robinson says he feels ready and capable of competing.

“I’m feeling good at 100 percent and excited to compete,” he said.

Robinson, who is also part of the 4×400-meter relay B-Team, has one rival competition on the team, sophomore sprinter De’Myco Winston.

“This weekend, I’m running to beat C-Rob’s PR (in the 200). It’s 21, so I’m gonna have to take that off the roster,” Winston said.

Along with runners, jumpers and throwers preparing for this weekend, WKU facility staff members have also been working on logistics for the meet behind the scenes.

Rick French, director of athletic events/event parking manager, says he has been preparing for the past three weeks.

“We’ve been working on getting the fields ready at least two to three weeks out,” he said. “The coaches get the tournament logistics ready, and we help with the grounds, facility needs … all that good jazz.”