TAMPA, Fla. – The 2018 NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championships preliminary competition begins Thursday with three men and one woman representing Belmont among the best athletes in the country.
Belmont senior Caleb Corprew (400-meter hurdles), sophomore Declan McManus (3000-meter steeplechase) and junior Corey Claiborne (shot put) are joined by junior Karly Hibbard (javelin) at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla., for the NCAA East Preliminary. The meet runs through Saturday ahead of the NCAA Outdoor Championships held June 6-9 in Eugene, Ore.
Reaching Eugene is the ultimate goal for each Bruin involved. Corprew (Midwest City, Okla.) and Hibbard (Edmonds, Wash.) each hope experience will be the difference while making their second trips to Regionals.
Corprew qualified for Regionals last year and said he couldn't help but feel star struck lining up alongside big names and future Olympians.
"The one thing I really took away was the guys who have been there and knew this was just one step on to the next big stage, they were having fun," said Corprew, who will race Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (EDT). "They were loose. You could tell who the rookies were and I was definitely one of them.
"This is Year 2, so I can go there and finish the job. I'm going there for one reason only and that's to get to nationals."
Corprew ran a 51.23 to claim Ohio Valley Conference gold in the 400 hurdles two weeks ago and that time ranks him 14th in the region. The top 12 placers in each event advance to Nationals.
Hibbard reached Regionals as a freshman two years ago. She enters this year's competition ranked 29th with a javelin throw of 47.66 meters (156 feet, 4 inches). The women's javelin begins at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) on Thursday.
"I was in the first flight and as soon as I left, that's when the big girls came," Hibbard remembered. "It was cool to see them and glean from their victories and their success. I hope to be one of the big dogs this year."
Though making his first Regional meet, Belmont's McManus (Worcestershire, England) expects to be ready after the level of competition he faced all season in the steeplechase. His seed time of 8:57.62 is 24th-best in the East Region but was still only fourth best in the OVC, which included the country's No. 2 overall time of 8:42.21 from Eastern Kentucky's Jamaine Coleman.
"Seeing guys like Jamaine, who arguably could win nationals himself, these guys are quality steeplechasers that show how strong the OVC is," McManus said. "That's a nice warmup, and even though I didn't run as good as I wanted (at conference), it sets me a good stead for the experience of going to Regionals and improving."
The men's steeplechase is Friday at 8 p.m. (EDT).
Claiborne (Alpharetta, Ga.) is making his first appearance at Regionals as well. He ranks 43rd in the shot put among East athletes at 17.42 meters (57-2) but is peaking as of late. Three of his last four meets featured marks beyond 17 meters, his only such throws of his outdoor track career.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity and the ability I was given to do this, however I'm not satisfied," Claiborne began. "I know some more work can help me."
The men's shot put competition begins Saturday at 5:30 p.m. (EDT).
NCAA track and field fans can watch a live stream online of the NCAA Division I East and/or West Preliminary Championships as FloTrack Pro subscribers. The subscription will include access to all FloTrack live broadcasts, video on-demand from all events, documentaries, technique videos and more. Coverage of the preliminary competitions will be available Thursday through Saturday HERE.
Live results can also be viewed online HERE while the schedule of events, with Belmont entries highlighted, can be found below: