• Lillie Burke

Track and field teams take second, third at OVC Indoor Championship

Making their final Ohio Valley Conference Indoor Championship meet a memorable one, Belmont University’s track and field teams busted records and brought home hardware in competition Wednesday and Thursday. 

Heading south to the Birmingham CrossPlex, the women’s team finished second overall with 122 points and 12 medals richer, a higher point total and placing than ever before.

The men’s team also broke records of their own, finishing third overall and returning home with five medals in the six-team strong startfield.

Belmont was the only OVC member to have both its men’s and women’s team represented in the top three finishers.

Medal-worthy performances bring a storm of silvers for the women  

The action began Wednesday as the Belmont women stepped up against the OVC competition. 

A total of five Bruins shattered two program records for the team Wednesday.

In the weight throw event, senior Jessica Mattsson launched a bomb to send the weight 60’3.75” (18.38 meters) on her second throw. Breaking her own school record set just 11 days prior in the same building, Mattsson’s throw landed her a second-place finish, capturing silver.

The distance medley relay team also finished with a silver medal.

Belmont’s squad of Besty Gordon, Sarah Richmond, Lily Hallum and Brooke Garter finished the 4,000-meter race in a stunning 12:01:86, breaking the program record.

Sophomore distance runner Grace Litzinger earned a second-place finish for herself in the 25-lap 5,000-meter race, crossing the line with a personal record of 17:18:19.

Senior Jeanette Morley started the PR trend, however, clearing 5’5.25” (1.66 meters) in the high jump for bronze.

Other Wednesday standouts for the women’s team include Emory Moore, Savannah Balcerak, Kaitlyn Vanderkolk, Rebekah Stucker and Caroline Pruitt, who each set personal records in their respective events.

Multis athlete Savannah Balcerak at the 2022 OVC Indoor Championship. Zac Shaffer

Wrapping up the first day of competition with 48.5 points, the Bruins held the lead over Southeast Missouri State University by five.

They rode this momentum to more impressive performances Thursday.

Breaking yet another school record, junior distance runner Lily Hallum finished her 800-meter race with an outstanding time of 2:12:07, earning another silver for the Bruins

Adding another silver to the one she collected Wednesday, Litzinger recorded another second-place finish with a 3,000-meter PR time of 9:51:83.

Moore also provided the Bruins with two additional silver medals with PRs in both the 60-meter and 200-meter dashes. She finished the 60-meter in 7.60 seconds — one hundredth off Lynette Rives’ program record from 2008 — and the 200-meter in 24.29.

In the one-mile race, Garter claimed the bronze medal to further contribute to the Bruins’ impressive collection.

Distance runners Kaitlyn Vanderkolk (left) and Grace Litzinger at the 2022 OVC Indoor Championship. Zac Shaffer

Other bronze medals came from senior Tyra Finkeldey in the pole vault, Stucker in the shot put and the 4×400 relay team who wrapped up the competition.

After two intense days of podium finishes, school records and multiple PRs, the women’s team finished the OVC Indoor Championship with 122 points, just shy of Murray State University’s 139.

Men brings home bronze for Belmont

Starting the competition with five events Wednesday, the Bruins had a solid first day in Birmingham, collecting a silver medal and a pair of bronzes to finish third on the day.

Breaking the program record, sophomore sprinter Qua’Jon Fuller finished the 200-meter race with a 22.14 second time, advancing to Thursday’s finals. Fuller also finished second in his heat in the 400-meter race with a time of 49.19 second, bringing him to another finals appearance.

Sprinter Qua’Jon Fuller at the 2022 OVC Indoor Championship. Zac Shaffer

Senior Knox Perry set the bar as he claimed a tied second-place finish in the pole vault, clearing a PR of 15’4.25” (4.68 meters). 

More podium finishes came from sophomore distance runner Ethan Hammer and junior thrower Ridvan Kazimov, who both finished No. 3 in their events.

In the 5,000-meter race, Hammer finished with a personal record of 14:40:82 while Kazimov surpassed one of his own, tossing a 58’5.72” (17.82 meters) in the weight throw.

The men’s plethora of personal records also included performances from Gavin Morrow, Jacob Ricks, Nick Bazzoni and Robert Joseph.

Starting off Thursday’s events, junior Ian Robertson finished the heptathlon in fifth after its concluding 1,000-meter race.

Thursday also marked a big day for freshman distance runner Kevin Vanderkolk, who ran his personal best in the mile. Vanderkolk finished with a speedy 4:11:96 time, scaling the podium in third.

Distance runner Kevin Vanderkolk at the 2022 OVC Indoor Championship. Zac Shaffer

Following his record-breaking performance from Wednesday, Fuller sped his way to a bronze medal by crossing the line of the 400-meter dash in 49.15 seconds. 

Other notable finishes came from Kazimov’s fourth in shot put, senior Noah Grimm’s fifth in high jump and senior Ben Naeger’s sixth in the 3,000-meter race.

After several personal bests, a shattered school record and a total of 82.5 points, the Bruins finished its final OVC Indoor Championship with a third-place finish behind Southeast Missouri State University’s 198 points and Eastern Illinois University’s 196.5 points.

With a noteworthy indoor season behind them, the Bruins will now prepare for a much-anticipated outdoor schedule beginning March 18-19 at Georgia Tech’s Yellow Jacket Invite.

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PHOTO: Emory Moore at the 2022 OVC Indoor Championship. Zac Shaffer

This article was written by A.J. Wuest.

#OVCIndoorChampionships #WTF202122 #OVC #BelmontAthletics202122 #MTF202122

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