Track & field competes at first outdoor meet

Freshman Sean Hurd receives a baton from freshman Cha’Kale Lipscomb in the 4×400 relay during the Vanderbilt Black & Gold Track Meet Saturday at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Chela Counts

NASHVILLE — WKU’s men’s and women’s track teams switched things up in their first outdoor meet of the season.

Sprinters competed in relays and the 800-meter race, while distance runners ran in a much longer range of their usual events.

Vanderbilt played host for the two-day Black & Gold Invitational meet, where teams from surrounding areas were greeted by scattered showers, cloudy skies and cold weather.

“This weekend was more so for us to come out and run in adverse conditions — obviously it’s raining — but guys and girls came out and ran the 800 which is a big departure from what they would normally run,” Head Coach Erik Jenkins said. “Then they came back and ran the relay after that… Those are the kind of situations we want because in a conference or national championship, that’s the way you’re going to feel, so you need to be prepared for that.”

For the women’s team in field events, freshman Karleigh Parker finished third in the javelin. She earned a marking of 131-3, placing her third in the all-time Lady Topper record book for this event. Houston Croney earned an eighth-place throw of 178-1, moving him into fourth-all time rankings for the Hilltopper record book.

Running events began on day two as men and women competed in the 3,000-meter race. Allison Riedling was one of many from the Lady Topper distance team to compete. She said that, overall, her performance was pretty good.   

“I think I did pretty decent. It was the first race of the season, so I’m hoping to improve, and we’ll just have to see where I am,” she said. “We have three weeks to get better before the home meet, so we should all be faster by then.”

Racing next in the women’s 1,500-meters was Michelle Finn. Finn finished sixth in the race with a time of 4:35.39 and placed third with a time of 7:00.39 in the 2, 0000-meter steeplechase.

Women’s distance coach Michelle Scott said that with this being the first outdoor meet her expectations were low.

“Usually you never know what you’re going to get the first outdoor meet,” Scott said. “They had a few weeks off — they had a few weeks down after indoor conference — so really we’re just seeing where their fitness level is and going from there… I’m not expecting anything major to happen. Expectations are low for this meet.”

Rain caused spectators and runners alike to move swiftly indoors to Vanderbilt’s Student Rec Center, where officials announced that events would resume as scheduled. The 800 meters was next.

On the men’s side, Marcus Pope, Karlis Daube, De’Myco Winston, Marcus Winstead and Cha’kale Lipscomb all competed in the same heat. Marcus Winstead finished first in the heat although he feared competing in the race.

“I didn’t have any confidence at all,” Winstead said. “I was afraid that I was going to die too early and not be able to finish.”

To close the meet, the men’s 4×400-meter relay passed the baton in a time of 3:14.58, earning first. The women clocked a time of 3:48.41.

The women also earned runner-up honors in the 4×400 meter relay with a time of 3:48.41.