BROADCAST UPDATE: The 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA Track and Field Championships will now be seen on ESPN – not ESPN2. The event will still be contested at 8:30 p.m. (Central) with Belmont's Caleb Corpew running in the third heat, second lane.
EUGENE, Ore. – The first thing Caleb Corprew saw each morning for years was the brick-red track and pristine green grass of Hayward Field, the background image saved on his phone. This week he's finally seeing it in person.
Corprew, a senior from Midwest City, Okla., will become the first member of the Belmont University men's track and field program to compete at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships when the semifinal of the 400-meter hurdles gets underway Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. (Central) on the University of Oregon's historic track.
The event will be televised live on ESPN and can also be seen online at espn.com/watch or via the WatchESPN app.
Caleb Corprew is the 6th @BelmontXCTF member to run at NCAA Track Nationals. Let's take a stroll through Belmont history and revisit the other 5 ����https://t.co/jzzSporm5I#itsBruinTime pic.twitter.com/uzdYG6HdwA— Belmont Runners (@BelmontXCTF) June 4, 2018
Corprew is the sixth Belmont athlete to reach Nationals in track, though the previous five all came from the women's team. His qualifying has helped further establish the Belmont brand on the national stage, said Belmont Track and Field Program Director Jeff Langdon.
"Caleb is one of a handful of athletes in my 30 years of coaching at Belmont that came in with the talent level, bought into the Belmont culture, became the ultimate team player and leader, and followed it through for the full four years," Langdon said. "I hope that some other athletes on our team catch a glimpse of the same vision Caleb had for this team and for himself."
A three-time Ohio Valley Conference champion who holds six Belmont program records, Corprew is one of just five individuals from the OVC to reach Nationals this year. He did so by running a 50.50 in the 400 hurdles at the recent NCAA East Preliminary Championships, placing eighth overall in a field of the 48 best hurdlers on this side of the country.
Corprew, a two-time Regional competitor, said he's approaching Nationals with the same mindset as the preliminary meet: one race at a time.
"A lot of it right now is just maintaining, trying to pick up tenths of a second here or there," said Corprew, who enters Nationals seeded 16th based on his 50.50 time. "I've already had some huge PRs the last few weeks, so nothing that drastic will probably come again.
"Every time I go out there I'm trying to PR by a second, but what we're training for is not that. We're training to hang on as much as possible."
Of the 24 racers who qualified for Nationals, eight will advance to Friday's championship final. The top two in each of three semifinal heats qualify automatically with the next two best overall times joining them.
There's no predicting Corprew's placement based on previous results. A time of 50.50, Corprew's PR and the school record he smashed by 0.68 seconds at Regionals, would have made the finals in 2016. It took at least a 49.43 to reach the finals in 2017, though, and 50.28 in 2015.
Regardless of Wednesday's outcome, Corprew's remarkable outdoor season has cemented his place in the upper echelons of Belmont track and field history.
"For him to go out and PR in four of his last five races – if you don't count the prelim that he jogged at conference – he's going into nationals on a hot streak," said Belmont Associate Head Track Coach Cameron Harvey, who leads the hurdlers. "We're going to see how much he has left in his legs."