JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Belmont University Women's Track and Field team senior Karly Hibbard (Edmunds, Wash.) and sophomore Jessica Mattsson (Tierp, Sweden) represented well on the NCAA stage on Thursday. The pair competed in throwing events at the East Regional Preliminary Round in Jacksonville, Fla., hosted by the University of North Florida.
"Karly came out and did her best today, but it ended up being a pretty stout competition in the javelin. She's been a standout for us for a long time and it's been a huge honor for me to coach her while she's been at Belmont," said Assistant Coach Joe Frye. "She'll be very tough to replace."
Hibbard was the first to take the stage, competing in the three-flight Javelin on Thursday morning. The Edmunds, Wash., native punched her ticket to Jacksonville after defending her Ohio Valley Conference title in the event earlier this month at the league's championship.
Already the program's record holder in the Javelin, she fell shy of advancing to the National Championships in her third appearance at the Regional Preliminary round, taking 28th overall in the event with a distance of 44.60m (146'4").'
Making her NCAA Regional debut, Mattsson squared off against some of the nation's best in the event on Thursday afternoon in the Hammer Throw. Her season-best mark at the OVC Championships helped her to earn silver in the event and punch her ticket to Jacksonville.
"Jessica has a very bright future in the hammer throw and I'm so glad she was able to get to this meet as a sophomore," Frye said. "She'll have this experience to fall back on in the future and it will serve her very well. She's put over five meters on our school record this season, and it's hard to ask for much more than that."
The native of Tierp, Sweden posted a mark of 57.98m (190'3") in the second flight of the event to finish 31st overall.
"To bring three throwers to this meet definitely shows some progress for our squad, but I think it's more of a reflection of our program's commitment to a well-rounded team," Frye continued. "Coach Langdon has played a big part in that, and we got lucky to have some very committed seniors this year who were hungry to do something big.
"All three finished up placing higher than they were ranked coming in. Our women's team hasn't seen two athletes qualify for nationals in a very long time, and it's exciting to start to see the bar being raised all around."