May 22, 2014
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It won't be difficult to find someone wearing Vanderbilt's "Star-V" logo next week when the NCAA East Preliminary round gets underway in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Commodores are sending a total of nine representatives - who will compete in a school-record seven events -- to the meet, which opens May 29 at the University of North Florida.
By having representatives in seven events, the Commodores will easily surpass the school's previous high of five. Also, the nine total participants is the second-most in school history, ranking only behind last year's total of 11.
The Vanderbilt participants include sophomore Sara Barron, sophomore Lily Williams, junior Rebecca Chandler, junior Amira Joseph, senior Liz Anderson, sophomore Skyler Carpenter, senior Brionne Williams, freshman Sarah Bell and freshman Simone Charley.
Having such a large group of Commodores in Florida is an indication of the progress the track program has made in recent years.
"I can remember just a couple of years ago, when we were having one kid there (at the NCAA first round)," said head coach Steve Keith. "So now we're getting up to a more appropriate level. ... And I'd love to see us stretch the department's budget even more (with more VU representatives going)."
While the East region will is taking place at North Florida, the West region will be held at the University of Arkansas.
The qualifiers from the two regions will move on to in Eugene, Oregon, to compete in the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships held June 11-14.
The Commodores would have likely had a handful of additional athletes in Jacksonville if it weren't for a series of injuries the team endured during the season.
"With a fully-healthy squad, we might have had as many as 14 or 15 kids," said Keith.
The Commodores will carry plenty of confidence into the national meet after a strong performance at the SEC Championships. Despite being shorthanded, Vanderbilt amassed 15 points at the event, and three Commodores set new school records -- Sarah Bell in the pole vault (13-1.50), Simone Charley in the triple jump (42-8) and Rebecca Chandler (10:23.17) in the Steeplechase.
"(Going into the NCAA meet), you want to springboard off the positive performances you had at the conference meet," said Keith, "and most of our kids that are going to Jacksonville are in that position."
Here's a closer look at the Vanderbilt representatives:
Sara Barron - 1500
NCAA East Ranking: 21
Lily Williams - 1500
NCAA East Ranking: 39
Rebecca Chandler - Steeple
NCAA East Ranking: 33
Amira Joseph - Steeple
NCAA East Ranking: 45
Liz Anderson - 10K
NCAA East Ranking: 14
Skyler Carpenter - 400 Hurdles
NCAA East Ranking: 31
Brionne Williams - High Jump
NCAA East Ranking: 29
Sarah Bell - Pole Vault
NCAA East Ranking: 34
Simone Charley - Triple Jump
NCAA East Ranking: 17
Check back throughout the coming week for more on the Commodores as they head into the NCAA first round.