WKU starts outdoor season with high expectations

Lucas Aulbach

UPDATED 12:15 p.m. March 25, 2011, to report that WKU’s meet at SIUE has been canceled. Head Coach Erik Jenkins confirmed to the Herald Monday morning that the weekend event will not take place because of weather conditions.

With the indoor track and field season over, WKU can now focus on the outdoor spring season, which begins this weekend.

The transition hasn’t had much of an effect on the athletes’ practice routine, junior Sharika Smith said.

“We already practice outside since we don’t have an indoor track,” she said.  “We still practice the same. It kind of works to our advantage.”

The outdoor track and field season, which will take place for the rest of the spring semester, will start this Saturday with an outdoor meet at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

Assistant Coach Michelle Scott said the weather conditions for the weekend might not be ideal for competition.

“The forecast is calling for 40 degrees with a 50-percent chance of rain,” she said. “You can’t control the weather. You take what you get.”

Scott added that the event is not one of the most important of the season, so the weather didn’t come at the worst time.

“This weekend is just the opener,” she said. “We’re going to put people in the main events and see how they do.”

The outdoor season has a few events that aren’t offered in the indoor season, according to Head Coach Erik Jenkins.

Some of those events include the steeple and javelin events.

“In the outdoor season, you pick up quite a few throwing and distance events you don’t have in indoors,” he said.

Smith will be competing this weekend in the 100-meter dash, an event exclusive to the outdoor season. She said she’s been practicing block starts and a faster tempo this week in order to compete in the event.

Smith, WKU’s lone competitor in the NCAA indoor national championships earlier this month, is coming into the season with an upbeat attitude.

“Right now I’m looking for a good season for me and my team,” she said.

This Saturday’s event marks the first time the teams have been in action since the indoor Sun Belt Conference Championships at the end of February.

Scott said she expects the teams to perform well after the resting period.

“We took a few weeks off after spring break to sort of mentally prepare and get back to school,” she said.

Jenkins said the teams’ intentions haven’t changed during the transition to the outdoor season.

“We still have the same goals,” he said. “Keep working and keep getting better. We want to be in competition for the Sun Belt Conference Championship every year.”

Scott agreed, saying she hopes to see progress from every athlete performing.

“We’re aiming to put more people in regionals this year,” she said. “Not everyone will go, but everyone can improve.”