NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Outdoor track and field season has been very good to the Belmont men's track team the past two years, and the Bruins again have high expectation headed into their first outdoor meet of the season this weekend.
The Bruins, runners-up at the past two Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Championships in 2017 and 2018, begin the 2019 outdoor campaign at nearby Vanderbilt University on Friday. Belmont joins a talented field from around the region at the Vanderbilt Black & Gold Invitational.
The first event in the field begins at 4 p.m. with a handful of track events being run that evening. The meet concludes Saturday after a second full day on the track.
The Bruins lost a chunk of team points to graduation in the offseason, but Belmont's next round of standouts emerged during last month's OVC Indoor Championships. A third-place performance there set the tone for the upcoming outdoor slate, said Belmont Assistant Track Coach Joe Frye.
"We've always been a better outdoor team, but the beauty of the indoor championships was that everybody really rose to the occasion," Frye said. "We got points from all across the board and going into outdoors we want to see more of that. We're not relying on one event group or another."
Young guns like freshman distance runner Jacob McLeod (Soperton, Ga.) and sophomore sprinter Hayden Stover (Brentwood, Tenn.) will pair with Belmont's established stars. Senior sprinter Nate Nammour (Tampa, Fla.) is a former OVC champion in the 400 meters and junior Braden Carei (Uniontown, Pa.) returns to defend his 2017 OVC title in the pole vault after missing the 2018 season.
McLeod will pair with his older brother, junior Kaleb McLeod (Soperton, Ga) as part of a deep distance group. Junior Declan McManus (Worcestershire, England) will again be a medal threat in the steeplechase. Both McManus and Nammour have qualified for the NCAA East Regionals in years prior.
Belmont will be lighter in its throws corps than usual, but a strong group of young javeliners plans to make its mark as well.
"All we can do right now is project what we think they can do, but the athletes keep surprising us," said Belmont Associate Head Coach Cameron Harvey. "They continue to work hard and we keep moving our goals in relation to what our athletes keep putting out there on the track and in the ring."
This season's OVC Outdoor Championships will take place May 9-11 in Cape Girardeau, Mo., on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University.