After completing the indoor part of their season earlier this month, the Belmont track and field team is ready to make strides as they shift to the outdoor season.
“Our training kind of changes over to more event specific type training since our program is so broad,” said Jeff Langdon, the director of track and field, now in his 21st year at Belmont. “But we are gearing up for season and looking forward to getting off to a good start.”
At the Ohio Valley Conference indoor championships in March, the men’s and women’s teams finished sixth and ninth respectively going against what Langdon called strong conference competition.
“The OVC is a tremendously strong track and field conference. The Atlantic Sun was pretty good but I feel like the OVC is a step above that,” Langdon said. “We found that out at the indoor championships. It’s huge transition for us but we are looking forward to making a dent in it.”
The outdoor season will consist of several invitationals and conclude in May with Ohio Valley Conference outdoor championships in Charleston, Ill.
On the men’s side, Belmont will be without leading mid-distance runner Marcus Bridger-Wilkinson, who qualified for an NCAA regional and competed in the Olympic track trials in Great Britain. Last season, the junior set all-time record in the 1500 meters race and finished barely missed a trip to nationals.
Without Bridger-Wilkinson, the team will continue look to the leadership of senior Matt Miller and junior transfer Zach Gray. Gray set the Belmont record in 400m hurdles last year at Atlantic Sun outdoor championships.
The team will also look for support from the freshman class, including distance runner Zach Bevain.
“He is just a gamer and tough kid. He has shown tremendous improvement,” Langdon said. “Our whole freshman class on the distance side is a really good core. They are doing a great job.”
On the women’s side, the team mainly consists of underclassmen led by freshman Clare Sobon. She set the school record for the hammer throw last weekend at the Black and Gold Invitational at Vanderbilt.
Experience for the women comes from senior distance runner Courtney Bishop and senior mid-distance runner Fallon Dickens. Both seniors have set team season-highs during their four years at Belmont.
While both teams are in sports that are more individually-focused, Langdon hopes to change the culture of the sport at Belmont by having athletes spend more time together as a team.
“Some of the things I’m trying to do is cast a vision for the future and change some of the culture,” Langdon said. “I am really wanting to get the guys and girls to buy into the team culture concept.”
Belmont will travel to Raleigh, N.C., to compete at an event at North Carolina State this weekend.