Jan. 25, 2014
Apparently, there's something about Vanderbilt's new indoor facility that brings out the best in the athletes who compete there.
That goes not only for the Commodores, but for the out-of-town guests, too.
This weekend's Vanderbilt Indoor Invitational -- which wrapped up on Saturday and was the second-ever meet at the school's new multi-purpose venue -- featured a large collection of performances that were the best of the season on a national level.
It also featured a continuous stream of career-bests from the Commodores, including an outstanding two-day showing from sophomore Jennifer Cannon, who set personal records in multiple events.
Senior Liz Anderson, competing for the first time this season, took second place in the 3000-meter run with a time of 9:33.65, and Vanderbilt's 4x400 relay team -- Faith Washington, Skyler Carpenter, Courtney Clayton and Erin Edmond -- finished second with a 3:46.24 to augment the home team's highlights.
Vanderbilt head coach Steve Keith was clearly impressed by what transpired this weekend inside the Commodores' new home, which has quickly begun to gain a reputation for being a fast track.
"(For the Invitational) to put our facility in such a bright light is very exciting," said Keith.
With a large group of friends and family in attendance, the Commodores competed fiercely against a talent-rich field of teams.
Cannon helped lead the way for the Commodore contingent, setting the tone with a fourth-place finish in the high jump on Friday (at 1.74m) and following that up with a third-place finish in the 60-hurdles (8.56) on Saturday. Cannon finished 18th in the 200-meter dash with a time of 25.26.
"She's got a good form right now, and we love to see that," said Keith. "Jen is working on each of her individual events for the penthalon, and she PR'ed in the hurdles and in the high jump, and came real close in the 200."
Anderson's strong showing in her season debut was another impressive element of the weekend.
"It was an excellent way open to her season," said Keith. "We are looking for good things from her."
The Commodores -- who are off next weekend before traveling to New York for the New Balance Armory College Invitational on Feb. 7-8 -- had numerous others who delivered top-tier performances and earned spots among the top-5.
Courtney Clayton and Katherine Delaney finished third and fifth, respectively, in the 800. Clayton had a time of 2:09.51 and Delaney crossed at 2:11.18.
Senior standout Brionne Williams was third in the high jump at 1.74m, Sara Barron took fourth in the 1-mile run with a time of 4:52.90, and Simone Charley was fourth in the triple jump at 12.52m.
The Commodores were especially impressive in the 800, with Anderson's second-place finish leading a group of four Vanderbilt representatives in the top-15. Rebecca Chandler was 10th at 9:48.58, Carmen Carlos was 14th at 10:00.55 and Courtney Kriegshauser was 15th at 10:01.06. Hannah Jumper finished 18th at 10:05.31.
Also among the Vanderbilt highlights was the solid time posted by the 4x400 relay team in one of the final events of the Invitational. The combined efforts by Washington, Carpenter, Clayton and Edmond provided an exclamation point on the Commodores' memorable weekend.
"That (performance) got the team fired up and got me fired up," said Keith. "It's one of the culminating events of the meet, and it was an exciting way for us (to finish) and go into our off week."
In the 5000-meter run, Claire Benjamin was ninth at 17:24.69 and teammate Vanessa Valentine was 16th at 17:43.19. Megan Yohe was 22nd at 18:15.62.
Vanderbilt's Tierney Price was 12th in the triple jump at 11.85m, Lily Williams was 13th in the 1-mile run at 5:03.29 and Kara Slavoski was 32nd at 5:26.03. In the 400-meter dash, Edmond was 13th at 57.37 and Carpenter was 20th at 58.13.
With it being just the second meet held at the new Vanderbilt's venue, there was an almost countless amount of facility records broken throughout the weekend.
But considering how the Vanderbilt track is seemingly built for speed, those records might not stand long.