Chemweno quickly rises through the ranks for WKU track

Vasity Chemweno, a senior from Eldoret, Kenya, runs on the WKU track and cross country team. “I like the team because we work well together and have a good winning spirit,” Chemweno said about her fellow teammates.

Lucas Aulbach

Considering her journey from the Kenyan heartland to south central Kentucky, senior Vasity Chemweno was, in a way, a great choice for distance competitions on the WKU track team. 

Her success caught some by surprise, though.

“I had never had anybody run (the 800-meter race event) faster that 2:12, and she ran it in 2:08 in the first outdoor meet last year,” Assistant Coach Michelle Scott said.

Scott coaches distance runners for the WKU teams, including Chemweno.

“I never expected her to run so fast,” Scott said.

Chemweno was raised in Eldoret, Kenya, in southeast Africa, and came to America to compete in 2008. While she didn’t start running at WKU until the winter of 2010, she first competed at Rend Lake College, a junior college in Illinois.

Running has been a big part of her life for a long time.

“I ran for fun in sixth grade, but I started competitively in high school,” Chemweno said. 

Her events back then covered shorter distances of usually 100 or 200 meters.

Lately, though, she has been competing in distance events.  Her first long distance run was during her senior year in high school in Kenya, she said. And she ran cross country for WKU last fall.

While this outdoor season will be the last of her eligibility for track, she will be eligible to compete in cross country for the next two seasons and plans to return.

Scott said that Chemweno has shown a lot of improvement in cross country in her time in Bowling Green.

“I’m surprised she was able to get it together so fast,” she said. “She just has so much speed.”

Chemweno’s impact on the distance squad has been huge, Scott said. 

Chemweno currently has the fastest time on the team in the 600- and 800-meter runs, as well as the mile.  Her time in the 800 of 2:08.24 is a school record, and her time on the mile run currently ranks second in program history.

But her impact goes beyond the statistics.

“She’s a great teammate,” Scott said.  “She helps others and makes the whole team better.”

Head Coach Erik Jenkins, who recruited Chemweno from Rend Lake, agreed with Scott, calling her  a “tremendous teammate.”

“Vasity is a young lady that has range and is a good student,” Jenkins said.  “She’s very quiet, but she is a competitor.”

Chemweno said she trains almost every day, practicing with coaches at least twice a week and training alone every other day.

Her training is focused more on long distance events such as the 800- and 1500-meter runs.  She said her goal is to improve and compete in the NCAA national championship in June.

“Last year, I wanted to go to nationals, and I didn’t make it,” she said. “This year I want to run well and maybe qualify.”

Jenkins believes that with her effort, Chemweno can make it happen.

“If you’re down to the wire, and you have to win, you’re going to want her on your side,” he said.