Track and Field begins outdoor season Friday

Chela Counts

As the seasons have changed and warmer weather has arrived, WKU has now moved into its outdoor season.

The Toppers and Lady Toppers will travel to Nashville on Friday and Saturday to compete in a two-day meet hosted by Vanderbilt. This Black and Gold Invitational will be marked as the earliest meet WKU has ever participated in for the outdoor season.

“This is the earliest we’ve opened up, but I feel like we’re a young team, and it’s exposure we need to have for the season later on,” Head Coach Erik Jenkins said. “We normally start the season the last week of March, and then it would carry all the way to the middle of June, NCAA Championships, but I saw Vanderbilt hosting this meet that week earlier… It’s closer, and we’re talking about competing on a quality track with a quality team, so it made all the sense in the world to go and do something a little different.”

Although WKU’s men’s team brought home top Sun Belt Conference honors to end the indoor season, the women’s team finished fifth overall — ending their nation-long 18-title league winning streak.

They have high hopes of redeeming themselves before the end of this season.

Along with beginning the season earlier than usual, sprinters and distance runners will also see a change in the events they run this weekend.

“We’re not going to have a lot of people in their preferred events that they were running in the conference or National Championship,” said Jenkins. “We’re going to try to spread it around a little bit and get a lot of quality work done at the meet… That will give us a little more variety from what we would normally do because we haven’t gone to this meet before.”

Sophomore distance runner Anna Schreiner said she immediately noticed a change in her workouts in preparation for this meet.

“We switched over from faster workouts to distance workouts, and it’s been tough,” she said.

Schreiner will compete in the 3,000 meter race this weekend rather than her usual events of the 1,500 and 800 meter race.

She predicts that she will do well but is still unsure what to expect with it being the first outdoor meet.

“It’s the beginning of the season, so we have a lot to build on right now,” Schreiner said.

Overall, coaches and teammates are expecting nothing less than the best from themselves and one another in the outdoor season.

“Our veterans did what they were accustomed to doing, and we’ve got a lot of new people who are going to have to get accustomed to everything quick,” Jenkins said. “We’re going to be disciplined, and we’ll work it just fine.”

Junior sprinter Sherria Hester said that with the women’s indoor loss and the competition this weekend, she and her team are motivated to do better.

“We’re a younger team, so we didn’t really know what to expect indoor, but this is motivating us to do better outdoor,” Hester said.

“I think throughout most of the meets that we have competed in, it’s been a lot competition, but it’s no point of running without the competition — that’s what makes it fun.”