Q&A with track coach Erik Jenkins

With his athletes in the final stages of preparation for this weekend’s Sun Belt Indoor Track and Field Championships, I spoke with Head Coach Erik Jenkins today after team workouts.

Jenkins said that this year’s Conference meet, which will be held at Middle Tennessee State University this Saturday and Sunday, is shaping up to be one of the best he’s seen in recent years. Jenkins added that he is hoping that more athletes qualify for nationals, but said he will likely send several to compete in the NCAA Last Chance Qualifier at Iowa State University anyway.

When asked about the men’s 4×400-meter relay team, he said the makeup of the foursome has yet to be decided. Western has won that specific relay three separate times this indoor season.

More of what Jenkins had to say:

M. Blake Harrison: What have both the men and women been doing to prepare for Conference?

Erik Jenkins: Trying to stay mentally sharp and stay healthy — that’s it. All the work has been done at this point, and all you can do is get to the meet … excel in every event you compete in, and make sure you are taking care of business and having a good time while you’re doing it in a very respectful manner.

MBH: At what level do you expect top performers like Janet Jesang and Brian Soverns to compete this weekend?

EJ: Obviously, Janet and Brian have done very well in their respective events. We’ve had a lot of individuals who have done well. Anybody in the meet has the capability of going out and scoring points and helping the team. In a team championship, I don’t care how good one person is — one person can’t win a team championship. We expect everybody to give a quality effort in a very, very tough environment.

MBH: What goes into piecing a relay team together?

EJ: We put the people on the relay teams who are running well and who are compatible at that moment. You can have four fast people, but if they don’t understand what’s going on and they can’t communicate — they have to take care of the small things such as handoffs and navigating traffic — then you make a decision to maybe go with someone else.

Jenkins made it clear that to him, as well as the athletes, anything short of their best effort would be considered a failure.

“We have an expectation to go in and be very successful and represent the university very well and be one of the top finishers, if not the top finisher,” he said.

Check wkuherald.com for a full recap of this weekend’s meet.

-M. Blake Harrison

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