Track and Field: Commodores excel across the board at Joe Walker Invitational

Vanderbilt returned home from this past weekend’s meet in Mississippi with numerous top-five finishes.


Vanderbilt Athletics

Vanderbilt runner Haley Bishop competes during the Spring 2022 season. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

Anish Mago, Staff Writer

Vanderbilt’s track and field team competed at the Joe Walker Invitational, hosted by the University of Mississippi, from April 8-9. The 23 competing Commodores came out strong on Day 1  of the competition and continued to impress on Day 2, returning to Nashville with promise for the rest of the season.

“This weekend was a good day for the program,” Althea Thomas, Vanderbilt’s director of track and field, told “One of our goals is to make meaningful progress within our program and in the SEC. Competing at this year’s site for the SEC Outdoor Championships gave us the motivation we needed to give our best.”

Day 1

The first day of competition started with two strong performances from star sophomore Haley Bishop. In her first race, Bishop took second place in the 100-meter dash, finishing with a time of 11.53 seconds and falling short of gold by just one-hundredth of a second. She was able to put her stamp on the meet in her next race, where she took gold in the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.13 seconds. 

Following Bishop’s record-breaking performance last week, her showing in the 200-meter on Day 1, which broke another Vanderbilt record, demonstrated her ability to rise to stardom on a national scale.

“For Haley Bishop to run a lifetime best in the 200 meters, it shows she is discovering her greatness and believing in her ability to be one of the nation’s best,” Thomas said. 

The longest event of the day was the heptathlon, in which three Commodores competed: Josephine Dal, Jess Creedon and Jada Sims. Creedon performed best out of these three runners, finishing first in the 800-meter race with a time of 2:25.68 and fourth overall after placing consistently across the seven events. 

Junior Caroline Eck and senior Jacqueline Pinon concluded the afternoon for the Commodores by competing in the 5,000-meter race. Eck closed out the day nicely for the Commodores, earning ninth place in the race with a time of 16:47.10.

Day 2

The Commodores started off with impressive results on Day 2 with another strong showing from star thrower Divine Oladipo. The sixth-year graduate student finished first in shot put with a distance of 17.25 meters and sixth in discus, throwing 51.93 meters. After making Vanderbilt history during the indoor season, Oladipo continued to prove why she is one of the best throwers in the country. 

Following her performance, Madison Fuller and Jordan Smith took to the track to compete in the 400-meter dash. The sprinters clocked in with times of 54.24 and 58.54 seconds, respectively, with Fuller taking second place in the event and running the fourth-quickest 400 race in Vanderbilt history. 

The next event on the track was the 800-meter race, in which three Commodores competed: sophomore Nicole Anderson, junior Kaira Brown and senior Taiya Shelby. Anderson and Brown finished with solid times of 2:13.61 and 2:13.97, respectively, but Shelby stole the show for the Commodores. The senior runner finished with a time of 2:05.16, placing fourth in the race as well as in the Vanderbilt record books for the 800.

To conclude the meet, the Commodores pitched a team of Shelby, Fuller, Brown and Bishop for the 4×400-meter relay. In the end, the team took gold with a time of 3:37.75, putting a bow on a group of great performances from the Commodores. The team’s time was also the sixth fastest in school history. 

Following a great collective output at the Joe Walker Invitational, the Commodores will continue their outdoor season at the Georgia Tech Invitational from April 22-23.