CHARLESTON, Ill. – The seeds are secured and the entries are finalized. Now it's time for the Belmont University men's track and team to deliver at the Ohio Valley Conference Indoor Championships.
The two-day OVC Championships begin Friday morning at Eastern Illinois's Lantz Indoor Fieldhouse in Charleston, Ill., where Belmont hopes to improve on last year's sixth-place indoor finish.
The Bruins have several student-athletes projected to score points with a few even in place to earn a top-three medal based on seeding from regular-season performances. The top eight placers in each individual event will collect team points.
Senior Matt Edwards (Glamorgan, Wales) and junior Corey Claiborne (Alpharetta, Ga.) each hold a best mark in the conference thus far in their respective events, Edwards in the 3,000 meters and Claiborne in the shot put. On top of that, both high marks set indoor school records.
Claiborne's big throw of 17.12 meters (56-2) came way back on Dec. 2 in the first meet of the season, but no OVC competitor has bested it since. Edwards's record outing is far more recent. He ran an 8:19.39 in Belmont's final conference tuneup on Feb. 10.
"Matt is on a roll," said Belmont Assistant Track and Field Coach Kate Bucknam, who helps coach the distance runners. "He's ranked No. 1 right now and I think that's where he should place. He's looked real fit at workouts."
Another Bruin of note is junior Nate Nammour (Tampa, Fla.), who is seeded second in the 400 meters (48.15). That time is one of two school records he set – the other in the 200 meters (22.17) – at the same Feb. 10 meet at Marshall University.
Nammour trails Tennessee State's James Faison by just 0.08 seconds in the 400 rankings.
"We're putting together some consistent races and Nate is getting better from week to week," Belmont Associate Head Track and Field Coach Cameron Harvey said. "I'll be happy to put him on the track with the No. 1 guy in the conference and let him go toe to toe."
Other top athletes to watch include junior Kaleb McLeod (Soperton, Ga.), who is seeded second in the 5,000 meters; junior Stephen Gibson (Tuscola, Ill), who ranks second in the weight throw; senior Caleb Corprew (Midwest City, Okla.), who is third in the 60-meter hurdles; and sophomore Drake Mitchell (Nashville, Tenn.), who is fourth in the high jump and will compete as a heptathlete.
The Belmont men's 4x400-relay unit also owns the third-best time this season.
Corprew is the top individual returner from last year when he placed third in the 60 hurdles. Junior Ryan Lipe (Franklin, Tenn.) is also back after taking bronze in the heptathlon.