Bell Tames Senior National Games- Earns All-American Status In Four Events
MADISON- “I’m tired. I’m ready to go home and see my family and team.” Words of exhaustion and achievement from Drew Bell after his incredible week-long stay in Pittsburgh where he participated in the 2023 National Senior Games after qualifying in four events, all of which where he earned All-American honors for finishing among the top eight in each event.
“Mission accomplished with 16 All-American performances for me this year,” said the 57-year old Bell, who had 12 additional All-American performances in an array of challenging events earlier in the year. “I don’t have to be strong, fast or tough enough. I did my best. Jesus did the rest.”
Bell, the head coach of the James Clemens track and cross country programs, qualified for the National Senior Games in the 10K and 5K races along with the 800 and 1500-meter events in the men ages 55-59 division.
In his first event, Bell completed in the 5K and finished seventh with a time of 20:42.88 while the race winner was Scott Siriano of Colorado with a time of 18:27.84. There were 451 runners in all divisions and Bell was 14th overall while his age division had five among the top 10 finishers. “It was a tough race course as we started the race uphill for nearly two miles and more climbs as the race went on,” said Bell of the course that began and finished on Schenley Drive just east of downtown Pittsburgh. “At the awards ceremony, I proudly was asked to hold the American flag during the playing of the National Anthem. I did so with two others, including the race winner. Afterwards, they held a Block Party for all to attend.”
Next came the grueling 10K race. Timothy Vigil of New Mexico flew through the course with a winning time of 37:51.86 while Bell managed a finish time of 42:08.06 good enough for seventh place and another All-American honor. Bell’s race finish time was a personal best by at least five minutes.
“I’m very happy with the times I had in the national event as I didn’t think I could run with some of these talented guys,” said Bell. “I’ve never been anywhere with so much quality competition.”
With a four-day rest prior to his final two races, Bell and his wife enjoyed many of the local sites around the Steel City including touring the variety of rustic churches in the area and visiting the University of Pittsburgh campus. After a well-needed break from competition, Bell made his way to the Track and Field portion of the Senior National Games for his two final events.
In the 800-meter race, Bell posted a sixth place finish with a time of 2:33.14 while Charles Novak of Ohio was first at 2:17.25. Last on the agenda came the 1500-meter jaunt and Bell didn’t disappoint himself as he was part of the slow, tactical pack with most not making a move to the front until the last 400 meters. Novak again took top honors at 4:35.90 while Bell came through with his best finish of the National Senior Games in fifth with a finish time of 5:21.64.
“This was the best inspirational event I’ve ever been on as just to see 50 guys who were in the age 100-plue competing was truly something to experience,” added Bell. “It was a place where I belong. There’s nothing bad about this event as I saw a lot of joy.”
“I won the battle within myself in Pittsburgh. I’m seeing a new level of myself and I’m more confident,” said Bell.