WKU hosts 2010 Sun Belt championships this weekend

Sam Osborne

The WKU cross country team won’t have to travel far this weekend to compete in the 2010 Sun Belt Conference Championships. The Toppers will host the meet Saturday, competing at the WKU-friendly confines of Kereiakes Park.

Head Coach Erik Jenkins hopes the Toppers’ familiarity with the rigorous course will play to their advantage.

“Any time you get to run at home, it’s always good because hopefully you have alumni and fan support there helping you out,” Jenkins said. “And Kereiakes is a very difficult course. We hosted here a couple years ago, and South Alabama had an outstanding team that was nationally ranked. We were able to outrun them simply because our course is hard.

“You have to be mentally a very tough individual to come in and compete on our course.”

Senior Marion Kandie echoed Jenkins’ words on Kereiakes, saying she believes the team’s experience with the course will give them an edge Saturday.

“Kereiakes is a tough course,” Kandie said. “We know the course, and it should be an advantage to us because we know it.”

Jenkins said Kereiakes is notorious for its difficulty.

“People who have been here over the years — who have run on that course — will tell you that they’d much rather run pretty much anywhere else in the conference than Western,” he said.

But the WKU coach is excited to have the home advantage. He said the competition level will be very high on Saturday, and the teams can’t take anything for granted.

The Lady Toppers will go into the meet as the clear favorite, having taken home the last four titles.

“As far as a target, I’m not too concerned with what people think about us whether it’s positive or negative,” Jenkins said. “We’re going to go out and try to put a good product on the track or cross country course and give it our best.”

In all, 11 teams will compete in Saturday’s meet. The races are slated to begin at 10 a.m.

WKU’s men’s team will be looking for its first title in two years on Saturday.

“We’ve just been training like normal,” sophomore Shadrack Kipchirchir said. “I’m very nervous, but we’ve been training all season, and I think we will do great.”