March 9, 2007
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -
On a historic day for the University of Louisville track and field program, sophomore All-American Tone Belt won the program's first ever NCAA championship and U of L's first NCAA title in any sport since the 1986 men's basketball team title with his victory in the long jump competition Friday at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships at the University of Arkansas' Randal Tyson Track Center.
Overall, the Cardinal men closed the first day of the two-day indoor national championship meet in eighth place with 11 points, while Wisconsin leads the way with 20 points, followed by Auburn, Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida State all with 15 points each.
Belt, a native of a Berkeley Springs, W.Va., had a school record mark of 26 feet, 1.75 inches on his second attempt of the night to dominate the field of 15 of the nation's best collegiate long jumpers. Belt is now a three-time NCAA All-America performer after earning a pair of fifth-place finishes in the long jump and high jump at the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Friday's jump broke Belt's previous school record mark of 26-01.00 set in winning the BIG EAST title on Feb. 17 and the nation's top mark entering this weekend.
"It feels very good to win this title, but I don't want to get too excited because I'll be back tomorrow for the high jump competition," said Belt, who enters Saturday's high jump competition ranked in the Top 10 in nation in that event. "I know I will be pretty excited when I get a chance to talk to my Mom on the phone later tonight because this will mean a lot to her. I knew after I had the big jump on my second attempt that I had a great shot a top three finish and I was able to pull it off."
The national title, UofL's third NCAA national championship along with the two men's basketball team titles in 1980 and 1986, is the latest performance for a University of Louisville track and field program which continues to make waves on the national scene. Prior to the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships, UofL's men's and women's track and field programs had combined for a total of four All-Americans all-time, while in the last eight months alone, the Cards have had five All-America performances, including senior Arthur Turland in the men's weight throw to open Saturday's competition.
"My focus wasn't on winning a national title for me or my own personal record, it was about doing whatever I could for this program to succeed," said Belt prior to being awarded his national title trophy. "We had so many other athletes that were very close to getting here. This team is continuing to grow and improve and I can only imagine how far we can go over the next few years."
Earlier in the day, Turland became the University of Louisville's first ever indoor track and field All-American with his eighth-place finish in the men's weight throw. Turland, a native of Kincardine, Ont., had a top mark of 68 feet, 10.5 inches, to finish eighth overall and earn his first All-America honor.
"I'm extremely pleased with the way I performed today because to be at a meet of this caliber and to have the second-best throw of my career is a very good accomplishment," Turland said. "To be the first indoor All-American is a nice honor, but I think I'm just setting the tone for everybody else and the future of this program."
The 2007 BIG EAST weight throw champion and a three-time BIG EAST champion overall, Turland is just the third men's track and field athlete at UofL to earn All-America honors joining current teammate Tone Belt (three-time All-American) and former Cardinal James Dennis (two-time All-American).
With two more All-America performances on Friday, Mann, introduced as UofL's head coach on July 2, 2004 after a highly successful career at Northern Arizona University, has now coached a total of 112 NCAA All-Americans and Belt's win gave the coach his fifth individual national champion.
"I'm so proud of the way Tone and Arthur competed today and the way they continue to represent the University of Louisville with class and dignity," Mann said. "Our track and field program is so fortunate to have such wonderful support from (UofL Athletic Director) Tom Jurich and (UofL Senior Woman Administrator) Julie Hermann, and I truly believe we're just breaking the ice on what can be accomplished at the University of Louisville."
The second and final day of competition for the Cards at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships is set to begin at 2 p.m. CT Saturday with the women's weight throw and senior Emily Turland. Belt will return at 4:45 p.m. CT in the men's high jump, while sophomore Andre Black, who finished 14th in Friday's long jump, will return for the triple jump at 6:15 p.m. CT.
Following the indoor national championships, the Cards will open the outdoor season on March 16-17 at the Baldy Castillo Invitational in Tempe, Ariz.
NCAA Indoor Championships - Fayetteville, Ark.
Day One Results
MEN'S TEAM STANDINGS (Through 7 Events)
1. Wisconsin 20 points
2. Auburn 15 points
Tennessee 15 points
Arkansas 15 points
Florida State 15 points
6. Michigan 13 points
7. LSU 12 points
8. LOUISVILLE 11 points
9. Kansas 10 points
Stanford 10 points
McNeese State 10 points
U of L Men's Individual Results
1 Tone Belt 7.97m/26-01.75 * N
14 Andre Black 7.36m/24-01.75
8 Arthur Turland 20.99m/68-10.50 A
N = Wins UofL's first track and field national title
* = School record
A = Earns All-America honors