The Belmont University track and field teams are split this week between a pair of the premier outdoor meets of the spring season where the Bruins will face some of the best competition in the nation.
A chunk of Belmont's men and women are in North Carolina beginning Friday for the Raleigh Relays while a select few who qualified are already on their way to Austin, Texas, at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays. The latter meet runs Wednesday through Saturday, though Belmont's 10 athletes there will compete on Thursday and Friday.
Now in its 91st year, the Texas Relays is one of the largest track meets in the country with more than 7,000 athletes from 35 states and 21 countries being represented. The University of Texas mega meet features both collegiate and high school competition as well as an adult invitational division that will include several past Olympians.
Go inside the weightlifting sessions that helped Belmont thrower Corey Claiborne break the Bruins' shot put record in this week's #WorkoutWednesday. @GoBelmontBruins #ItsBruintime pic.twitter.com/3OnOUNEkxR— Belmont Runners (@BelmontXCTF) March 28, 2018
"We're really looking forward to getting down to Austin and competing," said Belmont Associate Head Track Coach Cameron Harvey. "It's one of the biggest meets in the country this weekend and it will be good to see where we stand against some of the nation's elite. It's a pretty tough meet to get into, but we were lucky enough to get a handful into the field."
Throwers competing in Texas include senior Alyssa Andersen (Oswego, Ill.) and freshman Jessica Mattsson (Tierp, Sweden) in the women's hammer Thursday morning, junior Karly Hibbard (Edmonds, Wash.) and freshman Maja Gustafsson (Sweden) in the women's javelin Thursday evening, and junior Corey Claiborne (Alpharetta, Ga.) in the men's shot put on Friday.
Seniors Caleb Corprew (Midwest City, Okla.) and Christian Crenshaw (Memphis, Tenn.) will run in the men's 400-meter hurdles Thursday evening and then pair with sophomore Ryan Teague (Double Oak, Texas) and junior Nate Nammour (Tampa, Fla) in the men's 4x400-meter relay on Friday morning. Sophomore Alex Miller (Colorado Springs, Colo.) is also at the meet as a 4x400 reserve.
"Corey is looking to continue his strong season in the shot, while Karly is looking to regain the form that made her a regional qualifier in 2015 and '16," Harvey said. "The 4-by-4 had a great showing last weekend at Vandy and we're all excited to see what they can do when they're fresh and with some good weather."
Rain couldn't stop these four from running the fastest 4x400 relay in Belmont Bruins history at Saturday's meet at Vandy!https://t.co/mFiT4FgGoe#ItsBruinTime @GoBelmontBruins pic.twitter.com/3zTNspBSFE— Belmont Runners (@BelmontXCTF) March 24, 2018
Twelve Bruins will be in competition at the Raleigh Relays, a distance-race dominated meet hosted by North Carolina State University.
"Some of the top talent in the country will be on display throughout the weekend," said Belmont Track and Field Program Director Jeff Langdon. "Teams come here to run fast against great competition and everyone is running to hopefully hit a regional qualifying time. I think our athletes are ready. While it's still early in the season, our overall mentality is strong and they know what they have to do to succeed at this meet."
The majority of Belmont's entrants will take to the track on Friday. Freshmen Payton Barlow (White House, Tenn.) and Caroline Pruitt (Allen, Texas) will run in the women's 400 meters, senior Kiera Weems (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) will run in the 1,500, sophomore Kortney Schardt (Lindenhurst, Ill.) will run in the 5,000 and freshman Ali White (Southlake, Texas) and senior Sally Larson (Fall City, Wash.) will run in the 10,000.
On the men's side, junior Anthony Didion (LaPorte, Ind.) will run in the 1,500, senior Matt Edwards (Glamorgan, Wales), junior Kaden Eaton (Columbus, Ind.) and freshman Taylor Vroon (Brentwood, Tenn.) will compete in the 5,000 and senior Matthew Blivin (Durham, N.C.) and sophomore Declan McManus (Worcestershire, England) will run in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Pruitt will also compete in the women's 400-meter hurdles on Saturday afternoon.