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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.

Pepsi Relays Proves Commodores have eyes on the Prize

Taiya Shelby set a new school record in the 800m, while Vanderbilt produces several other top 10 marks at the Pepsi Relays.
Vanderbilt’s Hailey Bishop advanced to the NCAA Championships in the 400-meter race. (Twitter/vandyxctrack).

CORRECTION: This piece was corrected at [10:38 a.m.] [April 7]. It previously stated Veronica Fraley matched her school record, but she surpassed it. It previously stated that Emma Curry’s time in the 5000m event was 55.77 seconds, but it was 17:37.13. It stated that Allyria McBride ranked fifth in the hurdles in the SEC, but she actually ranks seventh. It stated that Jada Sims set a season record in the high jump, but it was not. It was her best since January at the Commodore Challenge. It previously listed incorrect names for Althea Thomas and Veronica Fraley. 

The Vanderbilt Women’s Track and Field team took a trip to Gainesville, Florida, to take part in the Pepsi Florida Relays — a two-day event that was filled with record-setting performances across almost all events for the Commodores. 

Day 1 – March 31:

The first day of competition ended with three school records and a handful of names moving up on the Vanderbilt all-time list. Freshman Giovanna Meeks set the tone for the weekend when she set a program record in the hammer throw with a mark of 51.86 meters. To follow this performance, senior Veronica Fraley surpassed her own school record with a 60.24-meter throw in the discus — earning her a first-place finish in the event and helping her maintain her No. 2 DI NCAA ranking.

Sophomore Julia Rosenberg – with a time of 2:39.34 — bested her personal record in the 1500m by a stunning 9 seconds, finishing in third place in the event. Additionally, sophomore Cameron Fawcett and junior Joslin Blair recorded top-10 finishes in the 1500m with times of 4:31.74 and 4:34.12 minutes, respectively. Sophomore Emma Curry brought home a sixth-place finish in the 5000m with a time of 17:37.15 seconds. 

Vanderbilt athletes were just as impressive in the sprinting events. Junior Rondajai Washington posted a time of 24.02 seconds in the 200m race to put her at No. 5 all time in the Vanderbilt record book, while sophomore Ella Escobar recorded a career best time of 24.84 seconds in the same event. Freshman Allyria McBride once again proved why she is the best freshman 400m hurdler in the SEC after posting a time of 57.88 seconds in the race to put her at fourth all time in Vanderbilt history. McBride is not only the top freshman in the 400 hurdle event in the SEC, but also the seventh best overall in the conference.

At the end of the first day, the 4x800m relay team, composed of graduate student Haley Walker, junior Lainey Phelps, freshman Audrey Allman and sophomore Ella Lambert, earned a third place finish with a time of 8:54.67. In the 4x100m relay, the team of McBride, Washington, graduate student Taiya Shelby and sophomore Ella Escobar finished with a time of 45.76 seconds, good for second-fastest in program history. In the shuttle hurdle relay, the team of grad student Beatrice Juskeviciute, senior Jada Sims, freshman Taylor McKinnon and freshman Santana Spearman broke the school record by finishing the event in just 55.77 seconds. 

Day 2 – April 1:

On day two of the Pepsi Relays the Commodores recorded another handful of personal and program records. 

The highlight of the day for the team came when Shelby set a personal best and program record-breaking time of 2:03.89 in the 800m race. Shelby finished third overall in the race but first among collegiate competitors — professional runners were also competing. In the field events, freshman Sarah Marvin finished seventh in the open division of the shot put, recording a throw of 15.55 meters, putting her at third all time in Vanderbilt history. Senior Veronica Fraley competed in the invite division of the shot, recording the fourth best throw in Vanderbilt history with a distance of 15.18 meters. Sims recorded a mark of 1.71 meters in the high jump to secure a third place finish in the event, and her best jump since the Commodore Challenge. 

The sprinters also proved impressive on day two. In the 100m hurdles, McKinnon and Spearman posted program top-10 times. McKinnon posted a time of 13.73 seconds, placing her at fourth in Vanderbilt history, while Spearman finished the race in 13.99 seconds, putting her at seventh all time. In the 400m, senior Kaira Brown posted a season-best of 55 seconds. 

To conclude the weekend, the 4x400m composed of McBride, Mya Georgiadis, Brown and Shelby finished with a time of 3:36.57, landing them fifth in the Tom Jones Invite Division and sixth all time in Vanderbilt History. 

Director of track and field Althea Thomas commented on the impressive performances set forth by her team over the course of the weekend.

“We’re putting our stamp on the conference and in the NCAA,” Thomas said. “[The teams’ rankings show] that Vanderbilt belongs and that these athletes will be contenders for top spots… As a program, as a team and as coaches, we are continuing to build off the momentum and standard we established in the indoor season.The program is really improving. More and more of the team is taking advantage of the opportunities to be great. It’s definitely a move in the right direction.” 

Next up: 

The Commodores will next compete on April 7-8 in the Joe Walker Invitational at the Ole Miss Track and Field Complex in Oxford, Mississippi. 

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About the Contributor
Grace Hall
Grace Hall, Deputy Sports Editor
Grace Hall (‘26) is from Belfast, Maine, and is majoring in public policy studies in the College of Arts and Science. Grace is also the vice-president of the Vanderbilt Club Field Hockey Team. When not writing for The Hustler you can find her watching the Boston Red Sox or Celtics, reading or at a concert. You can reach her at [email protected].
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