Bowling Green offers plenty of sports options for spectators | Community

There’s usually a hot ticket to be sought for sports fans in Bowling Green and the surrounding southcentral Kentucky region.

While Bowling Green might not boast the top levels of professional sports – those can be found a short driving distance away in Nashville (NFL’s Tennessee Titans and NHL’s Nashville Predators) or Cincinnati (MLB’s Cincinnati Reds), area fans usually need not look far to find compelling sports entertainment just about any time of the year.

Whether it’s major college athletics, minor league baseball, high-stakes horse racing, motorsports or even a great high school rivalry game, Bowling Green is often the place to satisfy a sports fan’s craving for a game or event to watch.

Here’s some of the must-see sporting events the region offers:

Starting in the fall, Houchens-Smith Stadium on the campus of Western Kentucky University is the place to be for football fans. Home to the two-time defending Conference USA champion Hilltoppers, “The Houch” welcomes thousands of fans each home game.

Since completing the transition to a full-fledged Football Bowl Subdivision program in 2009, Western Kentucky has enjoyed a relatively meteoric rise – first as members of the Sun Belt Conference, then since 2014 in Conference USA. Former coach Jeff Brohm, who led the Hilltoppers to back-to-back C-USA championships in 2015-16, departed to take the head coaching position at Purdue.

The Hilltoppers also lost a number of talented players likely ticketed for the NFL, but new coach Mike Sanford – at age 34, the youngest FBS coach in the nation – has a strong reputation as an innovative offensive coach. He’ll be tasked with keeping the football momentum going on the Hill.

Football fans have plenty of options for Friday night in southcentral Kentucky. Bowling Green and Warren County have a combined five high schools, meaning just about any Friday night will feature one of the local teams in action on their home field.

City school Bowling Green High School is riding a wave of unprecedented success on the gridiron. Under longtime coach Kevin Wallace, the Purples secured their fifth state championship in six seasons – and sixth state title overall – by demolishing Pulaski County 70-22 in the Class 5A state chapionship game held at Houchens-Smith Stadium.

Area fans have grown accustomed to not having to travel far to see their local teams play for state titles – in recent years, South Warren and Franklin-Simpson have also competed for state crowns at Houchens-Smith Stadium, and WKU will host the annual state football championships again in December.

With South Warren – the Class 4A state champion in 2015 – moving up a classification in 2017, the Spartans and Purples are headed toward a highly-anticipated first-ever meeting on Oct. 20.

Tradition-rich basketball

Western Kentucky has long…

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