WKU to run tough Kereiakes course

Mercedes Trent

Improvement is the key word for the men’s and women’s cross country teams as they prepare to compete in the Old Timers Classic Saturday at Kereiakes Park.

“We just want to improve what we did at Memphis,” said women’s distance coach Michelle Murphy Scott. “Every week is going to be an improvement.”

The levels of fitness come into play for both teams, and the coaches are keeping an eye out for such development, Scott said.

“You want to see the kids are getting stronger, where their strengths are in the race,” Head Coach Erik Jenkins said. “With anybody who is competing, I’m looking for improvement.”

The Old Timers Classic is the first 8K race this season, a significant difference for many freshmen who only ran 5Ks in high school. Freshman Sean Hurd believes this meet will be a key experience for the team.

“The team can use this as a measuring stick,” Hurd said. “It’ll show us how well we’re competing — how we stack up against other teams in 8K.”

But the distance isn’t the only obstacle the teams will have to overcome in this race. The course itself adds its own challenges.

“It’s a very tough course,” junior Madison Hale said. “It’s very hilly. It’s almost like it’s designed to be tough.”

Jenkins agreed the course’s “deep hills” would add another degree of toughness to the race, but said it will be an important building block for the rest of the season.

“If they can run an 8K on this course, they can do it anywhere else and do it well,” Jenkins said. 

Jenkins praised his group’s teamwork in being able to do well on tough courses. 

“You watch them throughout the race, picking each other up. They’ll run for each other.”

Hurd said he enjoys “having people on the team push me.”

“They want to see everyone get better,” Hurd said.

Jenkins said building team unity is a step in the right direction to another Sun Belt Conference crown.

“We want to enjoy the journey to our ultimate goal, which is hopefully the conference championship,” Jenkins said.

But while Jenkins and the teams look to utilize the improvements gained at Kereiakes Park this weekend, he said the team simply relishes the chance to run.

“We’ll take advantage of the opportunity and just race,” Jenkins said. “Any time you get the opportunity to race is a great thing.”