WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – After nearly a month-long wait to return to action, the Hilltopper track and field team headed north to the Purdue-hosted Gene Edmonds Open where the men’s squad took third place and the women finished fourth. WKU saw two athletes bring home individual titles in Jenessa Jackson (shot put) and Maor Seged (600 meter).
Head coach Erik Jenkins and his Hilltopper squads faced a tall test in Big Ten-host Purdue, which took the team title on both the men’s and women’s side of competition. Behind the Boilermakers (225) on the men’s side were IUPUI (71), WKU (61), Franklin (10) and Calumet-St. Joseph (2). On the women’s side, Purdue claimed the crown with 249 points followed by Austin Peay (63.5), Northern Illinois (61), WKU (44.5), Tennessee Tech (34), IPFW (5) and Calumet-St. Joseph (1).
“We had some good things happen at today’s meet and we were able to evaluate the areas that we need to improve some more,” Jenkins shared. “We managed the meet well and the team really responded to the objectives placed before them. Our squad is a constant work in progress and we will continue to improve.”
On the men’s side, WKU picked up 21 of its points in the 600 meter competition as four Hilltoppers earned spots in the top five including Seged who won the event with a reading of 1:22.29. Emmanuel Dasor claimed third place (1:25.61), Denzel Villaman took fourth (1:26.98) and Ventavius Sears finished fifth (1:27.98).
Jalen Brown posted a pair of top-five finishes, coming in the long jump (6.28 meters) and the triple jump (11.99 meters), taking fifth and second, respectively. Additionally, a pair of Hilltoppers finished in the top five of the 60-meter hurdles as Jonathan Hayden (8.15) finished second and Villaman (8.60) took fifth. Julius Morris picked up points for the Red and White in the 400 meter, clocking a mark of 50.32 for fifth place while Stuart Nichols (14.43 meters) and Draven Sims (9.93 meters) rounded out the scoring by earning points in the weight throw.
In the 4×400 meter relay, Seged, Dasor, Sears and Austin Hayes worked together to pick up a runner-up finish behind Purdue. The WKU unit clocked a mark of 3:21.25 in the event.
Four Lady Toppers accounted for six point-earning performances from West Lafayette on the day. Jackson led the WKU squad with a first-place finish in the shot put (15.05 meters) and a third-place reading in the weight throw (17.61 meters). Jackson has now earned an individual title in back-to-back meets to open the season after winning the weight throw event at the Vanderbilt Indoor Opener.
Kaila Smith was the second WKU athlete to pick up points in multiple events at the meet. The senior finished as the 600-meter runner up, clocking a time of 1:38.99 and turned in a fifth-place finish in the high jump, clearing a height of 1.56 meters.
Sandra Akachukwu also earned points in the high jump, finishing third with a clearance of 1.61 meters. Ariel Terrell rounded out the individual scoring for WKU with a fourth-place finish in the 600 meter, earning a reading of 1:40.14.
The WKU 4×400 meter relay unit of Peli Alzola, Jadzia Beasley, Khadijah Valentine and Terrell took second place behind Purdue, crossing the line in 3:56.27.
WKU is back in action next weekend at the two-day Vanderbilt Invitational in Nashville, Tennessee. Action will span Friday and Saturday, Jan. 13-14.
How to follow WKU Track & Field: For complete information on WKU Track & Field, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUTrackField.