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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Track and Field: Two impressive weekends for the Commodores ahead of the Indoor Music City Challenge

The Vanderbilt Commodores competed on Jan. 29 at the PNC Bank Lenny Lyles Invitational and Feb. 4-5 at the Charlie Thomas Invitational, posting good results at both events.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Vanderbilt track and field huddled at the Charlie Thomas Invitational from Feb. 4-5. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

The Vanderbilt track and field team competed on Jan. 29 at the PNC Bank Lenny Lyles Invitational in Louisville, Kentucky, and Feb. 4-5 at the Charlie Thomas Invitational in College Station, Texas, performing well at both meets.

In the first event, four Commodores took part in the women’s mile and 3,000-meter. The Louisville meet was highlighted by the Commodores’ all-freshman team running in the mile, all three of whom finished in the top 20 and set personal bests. Cameron Fawcett led the team by finishing in eighth in 4 minutes, 56.11 seconds. Ella Lambert finished just behind Fawcett in 10th in 4:56.93. Julia Rosenberg took 17th at 5:02.99 to round out the Commodore lineup. 

“To see them go and have personal bests on a brand-new facility, a brand-new track, it really showed that they’re committed to the process of helping to elevate the program, now and for the future. Because the freshmen are going to be the future,” head coach Althea Thomas told the Hustler. 

In addition, sophomore distance-runner Joslin Blair ran the 3000-meter in Louisville, finishing fifth with a time of 9 minutes, 55.95 seconds.

The next weekend on Feb. 4, a larger Vanderbilt squad traveled to College Station to compete in the Charlie Thomas Invitational hosted by Texas A&M. One of the main highlights of the second meet was the women’s 800-meter, in which Commodores Grace Jensen and Taiya Shelby took the top two spots, their times separated by just a hundredth of a second. Their times of 2:07.40 and 2:07.41 both were personal bests, and are third and fourth best in program history. Thomas was complimentary of the two seniors’ consistency and leadership.

“Grace is a tremendous talent, and as a senior, as a leader, she’s showing that you can do this every weekend. It’s not a one-time thing,” Thomas said of Jensen. “The same with Taiya. Taiya having the experience of going to the National Championship last year in the 400, and asking to take more responsibility for the team, especially in the 800.” 

The Commodores notched another victory in the women’s 4×400-meter relay, with the A team consisting of Shelby, junior Madison Fuller, junior Kaira Brown and senior Jordan Smith finishing first in 3:37.20—a time good enough for second in school history and seventh in the SEC. 

“They just put together what they’ve been doing every day at practice. Really working hard, pushing each other. One girl would win one rep at practice, another girl would another day at practice. They just push together,” Thomas said.

Other highlights from the weekend included the women’s 200-meter, in which sophomore Haley Bishop finished in the top 10 at 23.97 while Fuller set a personal best at 24.25. Junior Josephine Dal took eighth in the pentathlon with 3,541 points, another personal best. The two Vanderbilt teams took third and fourth place in the women’s distance medley. 

Meanwhile, the Commodores had four participants in the women’s mile, all of whom finished in the top 15 out of 54 runners. Junior Caroline Eck led the way in third at 4:49.38. She was followed by Blair, whose 4:52.75 set a personal best and took fifth. Rosenberg also set a personal best and finished 10th, while Lambert took 11th.

All in all, the Commodores have to be happy with an impressive all-around showing in College Station, their penultimate regular-season indoor meet. Their focus now turns to the Indoor Music City Challenge, which the Commodores will host beginning Feb. 11.

“Everyone’s looking to improve upon their marquee events, to put us in a position that gives us the confidence and assurance that we belong,” Thomas said, looking ahead to their final home meet. “I’m just looking for them to say and do without reservation: ‘This is Vanderbilt, and this is what we plan to do.’”

The two-day Music City Challenge will be a critical test for the Commodores’ last stretch of the season, hosting a crowded field that includes nine other SEC teams.

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About the Contributor
Frankie Sheehy
Frankie Sheehy, Former Deputy Sports Editor
Frankie Sheehy ('24) wrote for The Hustler Sports section and graduated from the College of Arts and Science with majors in economics and law, history and society. He was also the president of the Vanderbilt Chess Club and a superfan of the Chicago White Sox. You can reach him at [email protected].
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