Track and Field: Commodores conclude regular season with strong performance at UNF Invitational

The Commodores came ready to compete as Vanderbilt’s 4 x 400 relay team recorded the program’s second-fastest time in 23 years.

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Vanderbilt competed in the North Florida Invitational this past weekend. (Twitter/@Run4Vanderbilt).

Andrew Wilf, Staff Writer

Vanderbilt’s track and field team traveled to Jacksonville, Florida to compete in the University of North Florida Invitational on April 29 and 30. The Commodores came out hot as the afternoon events on Thursday consisted of Josephine Dal placing 10th in the long jump. Her jump, which was marked at 5.70 meters, was the ninth-best in Vanderbilt history.

Madison Fuller added on to Dal’s success, placing 11th in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.09 seconds. Senior Gillian Mortimer and junior Grace Jensen took charge of the night with two top 5-finishes. Mortimer finished fifth in the 5000 meters with a time of 16:52.33 and Jensen placed fifth in the 1500 meters with a time of 4:19.58.

Friday was much of the same as the Commodores added on to their success from Thursday. Taiya Shelby found herself in the record books with a personal-best 52.65 second 400-meter run that placed her second on the Commodores’ all-time list. Although Shelby achieved her personal-best, she placed sixth in this race. 

“Taiya PR’d in the 400 and then had her fastest four-by-four split ever,” head coach Steve Keith said. “She’s a whole different story.”

The Commodores’ Friday achievements were topped by the historic performance of Kaira Brown, Jordan Smith, Fuller and Shelby in the 4×400 relays. The quartet posted a remarkable 3:36.27, the third-fastest time in Vanderbilt history.

“We made that [4×400 relay] a real focus of our weekend,” Keith said. “The relay gave the team a lot of confidence and showed what this team can accomplish.”

The student-athletes, coaches, and entire team understand that there is much more gas left in the tank. The Commodores have set a total of four school records and notched 25 top-10 performances this season. Although they have found success recently, the team has much more to prove and accomplish as they prepare for the postseason.

“The squad gets smaller and smaller each meet,” Keith said. “In the SEC’s, we need to make sure everybody can make the most out of their performances.”

The Commodores look to continue their regular season success when they compete in the Southeastern Conference Championships (SEC) May 13-15 in College Station, Texas.