WKU competing this weekend at world-class meet

Lucas Aulbach

As the Sun Belt Conference Championships loom in the near future, Head Coach Erik Jenkins said his athletes have a chance to see top-tier competition this weekend at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa.

This weekend marks the 103rd annual Drake Relays and some events will include 2012 Olympic hopefuls.

“You’ll have people flying in from all over the world to be in the Drake Relays because of the Olympics,” Jenkins said. “For us, it’s a great tune-up going into the conference and national championship, but it’s also an opportunity for people to see world-class athletes perform before the Olympic games.”

The Drake Relays are the second-largest track meet in the country, hosted at the site of the NCAA National Championships, which take place in June.

The championship atmosphere inspires some of the best track performances of the year from athletes who attend the meet, Jenkins said.

“You expect to see a lot of athletes out there, because they want to run on the NCAA track and want to put up good marks,” he said. “It’s a very competitive environment.”

After placing first in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles at last weekend’s Hilltopper Relays, Irma Maciukaite will be competing in the same event at Drake, as well as two other relays. She said she thinks everyone on the team will be ready to perform this weekend.

“I think we will definitely be ready because all of us have been running really fast,” she said. “We’ve set a lot of personal bests, so it will be really good to go out there.”

The majority of the track and field teams left Bowling Green on Thursday to travel to the Relays. Some distance runners will compete Saturday at the Bellarmine Classic in Louisville.

Junior distance runner Kayln Bowers will be one member of the team in Louisville this weekend. She said the squad was planning on running in a five-kilometer event to prepare for the conference championship.

“They have a 5k out there, and a lot of us haven’t had the chance to run one this season,” Bowers said. “It’s really just getting us ready for conference.”

As the regular-season comes to a close, the biggest benefits this weekend holds for the team will be mental, Jenkins said.

“At this point, everybody’s in good shape,” he said. “Now it’s just about a competitive effort and putting everything together technically.”