Oct. 16, 2013
The Obstacle Course on the final day of the Omaha Challenge brings two things: pain and champions.
It's 6 a.m. inside Vanderbilt Stadium and the lights illuminate the stadium. The sun is yet to rise and it's the second time in three days the Dores have been at work when the sun finally decides to show up. As the Commodores get ready to attack their final event - The Obstacle Course - manager Mike Portu flips the switch on the music, and it's loud. More lights come on but these lights are in the rooms across the street at the Marriott as startled and likely angry guests are greeted with a Vandy Boys good morning.
This year's version of The Obstacle Course, cooked up by first year strength coach and former Commodore David Macias, takes the players on a journey around the football field before finishing atop the stadium's east side bleachers. Competitors start out with a sprint from one side of the field to the other and back in the south end zone before moving over to carry a 100-pound medicine ball 30 yards down the field and 30 yards back. Next up is the hurdles, where players alternate jumping over and going under each hurdle. The fireman's carry is next with players dragging/carrying a 100-pound dummy 30 yards down and 30 yards back. Another sprint across the field down, back and down leads players to the sled push 30 yards down and back. At this point, the Dores can see the end in sight but it's not that close with 10 box jumps followed by 10 star throws - where players must perform a full squat and bounce a 40-pound medicine ball off a Star V logo on the side of the stadium. All that's left now is an all out attack on the bleachers... with extremely fatigued legs.
The individual competition entered the day with tight races on both sides. In the position player battle, freshman Drake Parker carried a one-point lead into The Obstacle Course with Rhett Wiseman, John Norwood and fellow freshman Nolan Rogers all within striking distance. Luke Stephenson had a bigger lead but Jared Miller, Adam Ravenelle and Tyler Beede were all still in the race. Jared Miller did everything he could to put pressure on Stephenson as the only Dore to clock a time under six minutes but Stephenson's second place finish cemented his victory as the pitchers' Omaha Challenge Champ. Zander Wiel captured the position players' top time in The Obstacle Course with Wiseman not far behind. With his second place finish, Wiseman passed Parker to claim the position players' individual overall crown. In the team competition, Steven Rice's squad took the top spot behind Wiseman, Norwood and Rogers' strong finishes.
The Commodores began fall practice this week and have the team's annual Black & Gold Series scheduled for November 14, 15 and 17 at Hawkins Field. Practices are open to the public with fans being able to access Hawkins Field via the gate on Jess Neely Drive (first base side). The Dores are typically on the field by 3 p.m. Tuesday-Friday.