JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The 2019 edition of the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championships preliminary competition begins Thursday with two women and two men representing Belmont University Track and Field competing against some of the best athletes in the country.
"We had a program-best five individual qualifiers for the NCAA Regionals," said Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Jeff Langdon. "However, we decided to declare a medical redshirt for Jacob McLeod, who qualified in the 5000 meters. Aidan qualified in the steeplechase at the Raleigh Relays but then came down with mono. He was unable to compete at the OVC Championships, but he seems to be 100% healthy. He has had some quality workouts over the past two weeks and we are looking forward to giving him the opportunity to get this championship experience."
Throwers will be well represented in the Belmont delegation thanks to senior Karly Hibbard (Edmunds, Wash.) in the javelin plus senior Stephen Gibson (Tuscola, Ill.) and sophomore Jessica Mattsson (Tierp, Sweden) both in the hammer throw while junior Aidan Thompson (Dunfermline, Scotland) will represent BU in the 3000 meter Steeplechase at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., for the NCAA East Preliminary. The meet runs Thursday through Saturday ahead of the NCAA Outdoor Championships to be held in Austin, Texas, June 5-8.
"We were really fortunate to have Jessica, Stephen, and Karly show up at the OVC Championship meet like they did. Our goal has always been to peak at the conference meet, and these three did that very well," said Assistant Coach Joe Frye.
For the third time in her collegiate career, Hibbard has advanced to the Regional stage, most recently competing last year in Tampa. The 2018 Ohio Valley Conference Javelin title holder successfully defended her title at the league championship two weeks ago, coming close to shattering her own record in the event with her toss of 47.52m. Her mark solidified her bid to the East Regional. On Thursday, Hibbard will be competing in Flight 2 of the prelims for the implement.
Mattsson will make her debut at Regionals in the Hammer Throw on the heels of winning the silver in the event at the OVC Championships two weeks ago. Her toss of 60.05m was her season-best and punched her ticket to compete in Jacksonville. Mattsson will be competing in Flight 1 of the prelims on Thursday.
Joining the ladies will be Gibson in his first regional berth after winning bronze in the Hammer Throw with a qualifying mark of 59.22m at the Ohio Valley Conference Championships two weeks ago. His efforts, including a silver in the Discus Throw and a fourth-place finish in the Shot Put, helped Belmont take third overall at the event. Gibson will be vying in Flight 1 of the prelims on Thursday morning.
"I'm very excited to see what our throwers can do on Thursday," Frye said. "They're looking really, really good right now, and I hope they can show up again this week."
The lone participant competing on the track for Belmont is Thompson, who is making his collegiate debut at the East Regional. He punched his ticket earlier during the outdoor season crossing the line in 8:59.16 in the 3000m Steeplechase at the Raleigh Relays. Thompson will be competing in Heat 3 of the event on Friday evening.
"Overall, it is exciting to see the progress of our track programs," Langdon said. "Coach Frye has done a marvelous job of preparing our throwers and I am anxious to see how we perform this week in Jacksonville."
All three of the throwers representing Belmont will be in action on Thursday. The men's Hammer Throw and women's Javelin competitions begin at 11 a.m. CT while the women's Hammer Throw is set to begin at approximately 3 p.m. CT. The men's 3000m Steeplechase will be raced on Friday at 8 p.m. CT.
NCAA track and field fans can watch a live stream online of the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Championships as FloTrack Pro subscribers. Coverage of the preliminary competitions will be available Thursday through Saturday HERE.
Live results can also be found online HERE.