NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Belmont University men's cross country again staked claim as a national contender, earning third place in the Commodore Classic Saturday.
With a deep, talented field and sizzling temperatures before them, the Bruins yet again answered the bell with a fine showing, placing four runners in the top 22.
Belmont welcomed the return of senior team leader Matt Edwards (Barry, Wales, United Kingdom) to race competition. Edwards saw his quest for the 2017 OVC Championship and NCAA South Region meet derailed at the close of last fall due to an emergency appendectomy.
A 21st place showing in blazing heat was a commendable start.
"I'm so thankful to still be out there," said Edwards. "I thought I had my last race in a Belmont jersey for cross country, so I'm hungrier than ever to get after it this season. I'm going to make it count for sure."
Belmont defeated regionally ranked strongholds such as Illinois, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, and Lipscomb.
The brothers McLeod – Jacob and Kaleb – once again paced the Bruin lineup, placing ninth and 12th, respectively.
Nevertheless, the Bruin squad had mixed emotions afterwards.
"I think today might have been maybe a little bit of a downer honestly, but overall the team energy and the team camaraderie is second to none with this group," Head Coach Jeff Langdon said following the race.
"It's a really special group of guys, and they want to get out there and compete."
"I felt pretty rough, but I felt like I gave a pretty good effort out there," Jacob McLeod said.
Eastern Kentucky won the team title.
Belmont will return to action on Saturday, Sept. 29 in the Louisville Classic.
9. Jacob McLeod, Fr., 25:15.3
12. Kaleb McLeod, Jr., 25:19.9
21. Matt Edwards, Sr., 25:38.8
22. Aidan Thompson, Jr., 25:41.0
31. Declan McManus, Jr., 26:05.0
46. Kaden Eaton, Sr., 26:34.9
51. Taylor Vroon, Fr., 26:41.3