Belmont All-Access: Unbreakable spirit

Belmont All-Access: Unbreakable spirit

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With the conference slate upon us, Belmont University women's basketball junior Jenny Roy and men's track and field junior Ryan Lipe have showed the determination and championship mentality to earn the Bruins' GRIT Award for the month of February.

Lipe (Franklin, Tenn.) was the busiest man at the Ohio Valley Conference Indoor Championships this past week, competing in the heptathlon (seven events over two days), as well as in the individual pole vault and 60-meter hurdles. He scored in all three competitions, including a second-place finish in the pole vault and a fourth place in the heptathlon, but it was his perseverance in the hurdles Saturday that made him stand out.

The Bruin pulled a hamstring and ran the final leg of the heptathlon, the 1,000 meters, while hobbled. He then declined to withdraw from the hurdles finals despite knowing he was destined for a last-place finish. By taking eighth out of eight finalists, though, he scored a single and important team point for Belmont.

Belmont finished with exactly 100 points at the OVC Indoor Championships, a new program best, to place fourth overall.

"That one point he earned in the hurdles eventually was the point that gave our men's team an even 100 for the meet," said Belmont Associate Head Track Coach Cameron Harvey. "Ryan showed himself to be a gritty, determined, tough competitor this past weekend. He went way above and beyond what anyone would have demanded from him, all for the sake of the team."

Around that same time Saturday, Roy's (Brentwood, Tenn.) lockdown defense was helping Belmont to a massive 40-point win over visiting Tennessee State in the regular season finale at the Curb Event Center. As the team's leading rebounder (8.0 rpg) and fourth-leading scorer (8.2 ppg) this season, Roy has served an integral role in the 20-game win streak that helped the Bruins capture the top seed at the Ohio Valley Conference tournament this week in Evansville, Ind.

"Jenny excels in areas of our game that are a necessity for team success but rarely earn individual accolades," Belmont Women's Basketball Head Coach Bart Brooks said. "Despite that, her grit shows up every day as she takes pride in bringing her best and challenging our team to match her level of sacrifice, energy, discipline and competitiveness."

While Lipe's indoor track season is over, Roy and the Belmont women's basketball team remain in the postseason hunt. The Bruins play in the OVC semifinal Friday with their sights set on a third consecutive conference championship and trip to the NCAA Tournament.

The GRIT Award was established by Belmont's SAAC team to honor student-athletes who embody a firmness of character, indomitable spirit, perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Co-winners Lipe and Roy join previous honorees Darby Maggard of women's basketball (January), Creaghan Diekema of men's soccer (November), Matt Edwards of men's cross country (October) and volleyball's Jessica Vestal (September).