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Claiborne closes strong season

Claiborne closes strong season

TAMPA, Fla. – Belmont University's Corey Claiborne closed his decorated junior season Saturday with by placing 40th in the shot put at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field East Preliminary Championships.

Claiborne (Alpharetta, Ga.), who repeatedly broke his own school record in the event this spring, hurled the shot put 16.68 meters (54 feet, 8.75 inches) on a wet and muggy evening at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla.

The throw was short of his best, a 17.42-meter mark from last month, but Claiborne improved on his seeding in the field of 48 athletes from around the East Region. Claiborne ranked 43rd headed into the competition.

"I handled the energy well, I was confident, just wasn't there today," Claiborne said. "Next year I'm coming back with a vengeance. Now it's time to get back on that pig iron and grow."

Claiborne's throw of 16.68 is still farther than any other Bruin has ever thrown the shot in program history. He entered the 2017-18 season as the school record holder, having surpassed former Bruin great and current Belmont throws coach Joe Frye with a toss of 16.36 last year, before upping the bar three times in the past three months.

He concluded the regular season with silver medals at the Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Championships in both the shot put and discus, where he again broke the program record.

Saturday marked Claiborne's first Regional competition, an important benchmark on a path to much larger goals during his Belmont career.

"We did what we came to do, which was to get an NCAA meet under Corey's belt to set him up for next year," said Frye, the Belmont Assistant Track Coach. "He had some great mental victories, and I think he's learned a lot from this season on the whole."

The conclusion of the East Regional meet wraps up a banner year for the Belmont track and field program, which sent four athletes to the meet. Along with Claiborne's performance, junior Karly Hibbard placed 27th in the women's javelin, sophomore Declan McManus took 26th in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase and senior Caleb Corprew was eighth in the men's 400-meter hurdles.

Belmont's season has now run to a close with the exception of Corprew, who qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., starting June 6.