Toppers overcome flu bout for strong weekend

Lucas Aulbach

The track and field teams fared well at the Middle Tennessee Invitational this weekend, despite a case of the flu putting several members out of commission.

Assistant Coach Craig Morehead didn’t give an exact number of athletes that caught the flu but said it was a noticeable chunk of the team.

“Obviously, if you take a large portion of the group out, it’s going to affect the whole team,” he said.

The absences were noticed by the team as well.

“One of our big distance guys was out with the flu,” sophomore runner Landon Taylor said. “It was a big downer.”

While several members of the team were unable to perform due to the illness, the teams came away with what Head Coach Erik Jenkins called “a good day at a low-key meet.”

The weekend’s meet will be the last low-key event for the team, though. The teams will split up this weekend and go to three separate parts of the country to compete in their last events before the Sun Belt Conference Championship.

If there was a good time for the flu bug to catch the teams, it may have been last weekend. With entries in Murfreesboro, Tenn., already limited, the teams were able to compete in all of the events they planned to perform in.

Taylor said the meet went as well as any other meet they’ve been in, despite the absences.

“I ran about as good as I normally do, and the team we had performed well,” he said.

Jenkins said he saw a lot of positives at the meet, including standout performances from some of the field members. He said the throwers and jumpers stood out in their events.

The Lady Toppers swept the top three places in each of the throwing events, and senior Toms Andersons, junior Alex Miller and sophomore Evan Pitt also claimed wins in jump events.

“The kids that were healthy did a pretty good job,” Morehead said.

Jenkins stressed the importance of improving in meets like Saturday’s.

“The big thing is to go in, focus and improve,” he said. “If you’re not improving, try to see what you’re doing wrong.”

For the split meets this weekend, some distance runners will be at the University of Washington, some distance runners and throwers will go to Grand Valley State University in Michigan and the rest of the team will go back to Middle Tennessee to compete.

Jenkins said one of the most important parts of preparing for the upcoming meets is staying healthy.

“There is no magic format for success,” he said. “We need to keep working and stay healthy.”

Taylor said he will be with the majority of the team in Murfreesboro to compete this coming weekend.

He said with the conference championships just around the corner, it’s important that the teams leave the flu behind.

“This week is more of a rest week than others,” Taylor said. “Next week we’ll be working hard to prepare for conference.”