Feb. 22, 2012
Coming off the heels of a successful cross country season, the Vanderbilt Commodores have signed a cross country and track & field class that will build upon their successes as the programs continue to grow and develop.
"I think for combined track and cross country, this is our best signing group since I've been here," said Head Coach Steve Keith. "The three girls in the300 hurdles are going to add immediate impact and be a real cohesive group for our long sprinters."
The 2012 signing class has seven commits, including Sara Barron, Jennifer Cannon, Skyler Carpenter, Grace Corbett, Marika Crowe, Vanessa Valentine, Faith Washington, and Lily Williams.
"Skyler, Faith, and Jennifer, they're going to make an immediate impression. Skyler was ranked top-15 in the country last year and she can impact the SEC immediately, and Jennifer and Faith aren't far behind. It'll be a big jump in the long hurdles and 4x400 for us. These three are great athletes as well and can contribute in other event areas with Jennifer in the Pentathlon and Skyler in the Long Jump."
Keith has focused on the long term as he built the cross country program, and takes a similar approach with the track and field program. His patience and foresight took Vanderbilt from an 8th place finisher to winning their first SEC title this past year.
"It's by far the most talented middle distance group we've had in my six years now. They are going to be critical to maintaining the level we've reached this past year and surpassing it."
"Lily and Vanessa has fantastic cross country seasons last fall running times in the mid-17 range for 5km. Lily also earned a nice honor by qualifying for the Foot Locker Finals in San Diego. She'll be just the second Foot Locker finalist (Rita Jorgensen is the other) that we've been able to attract to Vanderbilt," said Keith. "Marika, Sara and Grace will add considerable depth to a young middle distance group in the 800/1500. In fact, Marika just won her State Indoor meet in the 1000 (2:55) and Sara just ran 4:55 this indoor season."
"Most importantly, all eight of these young women are great students and they are really excited about the academic challenges and opportunities that a Vanderbilt education has to offer!"
Get to know them below:
VANDERBILT XC/T&F COMMITMENTS: CLASS OF 2012
SARA BARRON (OAKLAND, MI/NOTRE DAME PREP)
800 @ 2:13.49
1600 @ 4:55.71
5K-XC @ 18:24
Michigan D-2 State Champion in the 800 meters (2011)...finished 8th at the 2011 Michigan D-2 State Cross Country Championships...
SARA QUOTE: "I love the emphasis on "balance" on the team and look forward to contributing to the growing success of the track and cross country programs. It's truly an honor and a dream come true to be a Commodore!"
COACH FREZZA: "Sara is a great runner, but also excels in the classroom and in the community. It is Sara's work ethic that puts her above others and helps her achieve all her goals. The ability to balance all her activities and accomplish them at such a high level really makes Sara a person to admire."
JENNIFER CANNON (BRISTOL, TN/TENNESSEE HIGH)
100H @ 14.32
300H @ 43.05
2011 State Champion in both the 100H and 300H...academically ranked #1 in her class...State Runner-up in the Pentathlon in 2011...
JENNIFER QUOTE: "I chose Vanderbilt because it not only has an outstanding group of girls to train with but it allows me to receive an amazing education. I can't wait to be part of the team!"
COACH IRVIN: "Jennifer Cannon has a tremendous desire to excel in everything she does. Her work ethic is unstoppable. She will do whatever it takes to be successful. She leads by example. She is a positive influence on everyone she meets."
SKYLER CARPENTER (TOPEKA, IND/WESTVIEW HS)
100H @ 14.36
300H @ 42.03
400H @ 59.97
400 @ 56.25
4-time Indiana State Champion in the 100H, 300H and Long Jump...ranked #14 in the US for 300H and #16 in the US for 400H last spring (2011)...
SKYLER QUOTE: "I love the atmosphere Vanderbilt has to offer. The campus and surrounding town is awesome! I'm a huge fan of the Hospitals located on campus and will be visiting them frequently! The size of Vanderbilt makes for a great community feeling. Not to mention the Commons are pretty legit! Last but not least, the coaching staff and welcoming attitudes of the girls on the track team were great to have. I can't wait to be a part of Vanderbilt athletics, Go Commodores!"
GRACE CORBETT (ROCKVILLE, MD/WOOTTON HS)
800 @ 2:16.72
1600 @ 5:04.60
Maryland 4A State Runner-up in the 1600 meters last spring (2011)...
GRACE QUOTE: "I chose Vanderbilt because as soon as I met some of the girls, I fell in love with the team. Everyone clearly enjoys what they do, but at the same I could tell they have the same competitive spirit I have. They love to race and I can't wait to train with all of them next year. "
COACH REDMOND: "I am not sure in what area Grace Corbett has been more valuable to the Wootton track team, she brought so much to the table. Whether it was her talent, work ethic, dedication, team commitment, or leadership skills...she has been invaluable across the board."
MARIKA CROWE (SUDBURY, MASS/LINCOLN-SUDBURY HS)
800 @ 2:14.46
1000 @ 2:55.82
Mile @ 5:00.43
Massachusetts All-State Champion in the Mile outdoors and State Runner-up in the 1000 meters indoors for 2011... State Champion in the Indoor 1000
MARIKA QUOTE: "I picked Vanderbilt because I loved everything about it...The girls on the team and coaches are amazing, and I can't wait to be a part of such a great program. I think Vanderbilt will challenge me both as an athlete and student, and I am so excited for August!"
COACH PHELAN: "It is always great to coach an athlete who is so passionate about the sport and willing to work hard and learn as much as they can to achieve their goals. Marika has been that type of athlete and I appreciate the opportunity to have coached her for the past four years."
VANESSA VALENTINE (MELBOURNE, FLA/MELBOURNE HS)
1600 @ 5:01.62
3200 @ 10:59.62
5K-XC @ 17:43
Placed 2nd (3200) and 3rd (1600) at the 2011 Florida 4A Championships...finished 4th at the prestigious Great American Cross Country meet (17:43)...placed 7th at the 3A Florida Cross Country meet...
VANESSA QUOTE: "I chose Vanderbilt for an infinite amount of reasons. Once I visited the campus and met the team and coaches, I felt in my heart that Vandy is where I belonged...I also knew that if I wanted to reach my full potential and achieve all that I possibly could, in running and in life, than Vanderbilt was the place for me."
COACH WOODBURY: "You will find no better teammate, friend, or representative for your program than Vanessa. Her work ethic and ability to do the task at hand without distraction are without equal. Vanessa is that special runner...From day 1 to Day 1000 and beyond it has been a pleasure to work with her."
FAITH WASHINGTON (REYNOLDSBURG, OHIO/REYNOLDSBURG HS)
100H @ 14.49
300H @ 42.88
Finished 3rd in the Ohio D-1 State meet for 300H and 4th in the 100H during the 2011 outdoor season...
FAITH QUOTE: "I chose Vanderbilt because it offers an exceptional International Affairs program and a track program that welcomes many sociable student-athletes driven both for team success and career-based goals...There's no doubt in my mind as to whether I am ready to start the next few years of my life as a Commodore!"
COACH HAMMOND: "Faith Washington is a great athlete that has led Reynoldsburg to 3 State Team Championships. But what is important about her is that she is a person of conviction, character, and integrity. She is admired as a student, an athlete, and a person by her peers and teachers."
LILY WILLIAMS (TALLAHASSEE, FLA/CHILES HS)
1600 @ 4:52.05
3200 @ 10:47.82
5K-XC @ 17:29
4-time Florida 4A State Champion in the 1600 and 3200...Foot Locker finalist in 2011 placing 35th at the National finals...3-time State Runner-up in Cross Country...
LILY QUOTE: "Vanderbilt was the perfect place for me because I knew I would get a world-class education, a fantastic running program, and a great place to live where I could broaden and explore my interests outside of school and running."
COACH GOWAN: "Lily Williams has set the standard at Chiles as a student-athlete. She has left her mark on the Sunshine State and is well respected by other coaches throughout the state because of her character and sportsmanship. Congratulations to Vanderbilt, you are getting an amazing individual."