Split teams provide results in first full outdoor weekend

Lucas Aulbach

After poor weather conditions stopped most members of the track and field teams at WKU from competing two weekends ago, the teams were able to turn in record-setting performances in their outdoor season debut this weekend.

The teams were split up over the weekend, with one squad competing at Florida and another attending a meet at Austin Peay.

This would have been the second week of competition for the teams if their previously scheduled meet at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville hadn’t been canceled.  A late entry to a meet in Vanderbilt allowed the throwers to compete two weeks ago, but the other WKU squads were unable to perform.

But the teams got back on track this past weekend, as senior Laura Igaune topped her WKU and Latvian national record in the hammer throw with a throw of 206 feet, 11 inches, breaking the mark she set at Vanderbilt. 

Igaune took second place in the event in Gainesville, Fla., and Head Coach Erik Jenkins said she could be ranked in the top five nationally soon.

Igaune’s throw wasn’t the only record to fall in Florida. Junior Ignacio Guerra, a Chilean native, took first place in the javelin throw, setting the leading NCAA mark at this point this season. 

The throw, which measured to 258 feet, 2 inches, shattered the previous WKU record and also set a new Chilean national record.

“Guerra took a major step up at the meet,” Jenkins said.

Before the meet, Jenkins, who was with the team in Gainesville, had complimented the other teams attending, which included Florida State, Miami and defending Division I national champion Florida. He said he was “very pleased” at how the teams opened the season.

“It was an outstanding opening meet across the board,” he said.

Senior Vasity Chemweno was also at Florida. She competed in the 800- and 1500-meter run events, in which she placed ninth and seventh, respectively.

“I’ve run better, but overall I didn’t do that bad,” she said.  “Most people did well. Everyone seemed happy about how they placed.”

Chemweno said the long travel might have had an effect on how the teams performed.

“When you travel for 10 hours before a meet, of course you’re going to be tired,” she said.

Assistant Coach Michelle Scott, meanwhile, was closer to home with the teams at Austin Peay in Clarksville, Tenn.

“One of the big highlights was Michelle Finn, who won the steeplechase,” Scott said. 

Finn posted a time of 11:05.38 in the event.

While the teams were able to compete, the weather in Clarksville was not the best for running conditions, Scott said, citing the wind as having a big impact on the times the team posted.

“We didn’t run the best in terms of time because of the wind,” she said.  “The wind was really wild.”

But Scott said the wind didn’t stop the teams from performing, and that being able to finally start the outdoor season was good enough. 

She said she was also very pleased with the return of senior runner Rachel Friedman, who was able to compete after recovering from a previous injury.

Next weekend the teams will get to stay at home for the Hilltopper Relays, the annual outdoor event WKU hosts.

Jenkins said the teams will approach their home event like any other meet.

“We’re going to take it a day at a time like we always do,” he said.