NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Outdoor season couldn't come soon enough for a Belmont women's track and field team coming off its best indoor track performance ever as a member of the Ohio Valley Conference.
The Bruins, who surged to sixth place at the OVC Indoor Championships in late February, begin the outdoor track season this weekend at nearby Vanderbilt University. Belmont joins a talented field from around the region at the Vanderbilt Black & Gold Invitational, which starts Friday.
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 Belmont women earned several trips to the podium recently during the OVC Indoor Championships in Birmingham, Ala., and those standout athletes will be looking to build on that success starting this week.
"There was a lot of confidence that came off of indoor season," Belmont Assistant Track Coach Kate Bucknam said. "It's exciting to see what they can do in outdoors after another eight weeks of training and racing."
Belmont's big throwers could again lead the way, along with a deep distance crew led by junior Kortney Schardt (Lindenhurst, Ill.). Javelin experts like senior Karly Hibbard (Edmonds, Wash.) and sophomore Maja Gustafsson (Västerås, Sweden) went for gold and silver in the event at last year's OVC Outdoor Championships and will be in the hunt for medals again this year. Fellow Swedish sophomore Jessica Mattson (Tierp, Sweden) is a danger to join them on the medal stand in the hammer throw.
Hibbard set the OVC championships record with her javelin throw at last year's final meet, earning herself a trip to the NCAA East Regionals.
Sophomore Caroline Pruitt (Allen, Texas) is another key returner who specializes in the high hurdles. She was sixth at last year's OVC outdoor meet in the 400-meter hurdles.
"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.