NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It's a rarity to receive an athletic award for not competing, but Belmont men's cross country runner Matt Edwards proved character and commitment aren't limited to competition.
Edwards, a senior from Glamorgan, Wales, was honored by the Belmont University Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) as this month's recipient of the Belmont GRIT Award on Friday. His final cross country season for the Bruins ended abruptly just days before the Ohio Valley Conference Championships in late October due to an emergency appendectomy.
His responding positive outlook and support of his teammates showed the kind of indomitable spirit, perseverance and passion that the award is meant to highlight since its introduction to the Belmont athletics landscape earlier this fall.
Edwards was Belmont's top finisher in likely his final cross country meet with the Bruins, placing 11th at the highly competitive Crimson Classic in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Oct. 13. His performance paced Belmont to a fifth-place finish out of 26 teams.
Without one of their top runners, the Bruins took third last weekend at the OVC Championships in Charleston, Ill.
"Matt is a great competitor who always supports his teammates," said Belmont Head Cross Country Coach Jeff Langdon. "He likely blew an appendix while racing at Alabama, pretty gritty. He often runs to the point of complete exhaustion for this team."
Following three years at Cardiff Metropolitan University in his native Wales, Edwards joined the Bruins cross country and track and field programs in 2016. He was 12th in last year's OVC Championships and finished 53rd at the ensuing NCAA South Regional.
He won the Belmont Opener in September, his first collegiate cross country victory, and set an 8-kilometer personal best later in the month with a 24:33.98 at the Louisville Classic.
Back on his feet following surgery, Edwards has his sights set on the upcoming indoor and outdoor track seasons and has returned to endurance training for later competition.
The Belmont men's and women's cross country teams will finish off their fall campaigns next week with the NCAA South Regional on Friday, Nov. 10, back in Tuscaloosa.