By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – After dividing its forces for a pair of Power 5 conference meets last weekend, and seeing another program record fall courtesy of Purity Sanga, the Tennessee Tech track and field team will reunite for a single-day competition at Western Kentucky on Saturday, as they take part in the Hilltopper Relays from WKU's Charles M. Reuter Track and Field Complex.
Tech's day will begin at 9 a.m. CT on Saturday morning when Abby Mink looks to record her first collegiate mark in the discus throw.
Smith holds the team's best mark in the event for this outdoor season having recorded a 5.47-meter leap (17 feet, 11 1/2 inches) in her only series so far. That mark currently sits at No. 9 on the Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Performance List.
Na'Scottisha Drummond is slated for the high jump at 11 a.m. Drummond, who scored points for TTU with a sixth-place finish at last year's OVC Outdoor Championships, will be looking to improve on her all-time career best of 1.72 meters (5-7 1/2).
Smith will test her mettle in the triple jump at 1 p.m., where she will try to improve on her No. 6 standing on the OVC Outdoor Performance List. Her current placement came from an 11.68-meter leap (38-4) last weekend at the Florida Relays.
Keyanna Word will close the field events portion for the Golden Eagles, as she tries to add distance to her current best of 22.80 meters (74-10) in the javelin throw.
The running events will operate on a rolling schedule, meaning there are no set times after the 4x100-meter relay at 12 p.m.
Teauna Anderson, D'Airrien Jackson, Roberts, Ceirra Tate and Jordan Toney have been set aside as possible candidates to make up the squad. Four of them – Anderson, Tate, Roberts and Toney – clocked Tech's fastest time of the season at the Vanderbilt Black and Gold Invitational, 47.83 seconds, which is second-fastest in the league.
Then, it will be Roberts and Robinson stepping into the blocks in the 100-meter hurdles, followed by Jackson and Tate in the 400-meter dash.
Roberts owns the top time for the Golden Eagles with a mark of 14.91 seconds in the 100 hurdles, while Tate has the standard in the 400, 57.52 seconds, which is also No. 5 on the conference list.
TTU will have five entrants in the 100 meters, a group made up of Anderson, Drummond, Smith, Toney and newcomer Jessica Walsh. Toney and Walsh are the only two Golden Eagles to have run the 100 this outdoor season.
The 800 meters will be next, and will feature Alexa Brugere, Vivien Chesire and Courtney McCowan, a trio that ran together for much of the indoor season. Brugere's time is the best of the bunch, a 2:19.86 that ranks 10th in the OVC.
Jackson leads a quartet of Tech hurdlers in the 400-meter hurdles, alongside Anderson, Toney and Walsh. It will be the first career attempt for the latter three, and the first of the season for Jackson, the reigning conference champion in the event.
Drummond, Roberts, Robinson, Smith and Tate will then toe the starting line for the 200 meters. Tate is the only athlete in the group to have run the 200 outdoors this year, and has the team's top mark of 25.15 seconds, which is 10th-best in the league.
Tech's final individual event – the 3,000-meter steeplechase – will feature Sharon Chepkemboi making her collegiate debut. The freshman will be the first Golden Eagle to compete in the steeplechase this year.
TTU will have heavy representation in the 4x400-meter relay, as two Golden Eagle platoons are scheduled to race.
Tech's fastest time of the year in the 4x4 came from the Black and Gold Invitational, where Tate, Toney, Anderson and Jackson collaborated for a mark of 4:05.24.
Tech will meet up with 15 other teams at the Hilltopper Relays.
TTU is one of seven Division I teams highlighting the field, with Austin Peay, Eastern Kentucky, and Tennessee State making up the other three delegates from the OVC.
From a national perspective, Southern Illinois is the highest-ranked team competing at WKU this weekend, coming in at No. 110 according to the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The Salukis are the only team in the field ranked higher than Tech at No. 153.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information