Rebekah Smeltzer enters her fifth season as an assistant coach for the Vanderbilt cross country and distance teams in 2020-21.
Most recently, in 2019, Vanderbilt cross country boasted the second men’s All-SEC honoree in program history as well as two All-Region selections (Nick Laning, Ana Wallace), an All-SEC Freshman and the men’s lowest point total at the SEC Championships since 1980.
Under her watch in 2018-19, the school’s 4×1,500-meter relay record was broken, freshmen Grace Jensen and Haley Walker made NCAA Preliminary debuts and Walker competed in the U20 Pan-American Championships for her home country of Canada.
Smeltzer hit the ground running as an assistant on the Commodores staff during the 2016 season, as she played an instrumental role in sophomore Sara Tsai’s qualification to the 2016 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Tsai finished sixth at the NCAA South Regional with a time of 20:16.20 and earned an at-large bid to the Championship meet. Tsai would go on to finish 57th overall with a time of 20:34.40, which narrowly missed the All-American threshold by 10 seconds. Smeltzer also helped lead the women’s team to a third-place finish at the NCAA South Regionals, which fell just one spot shy of team qualification to the NCAA Championships.
Smeltzer, who was a standout at Michigan State during her college career, joined the Commodores after two years as the assistant coach for Western Michigan’s cross country and track and field teams. While at Western Michigan, she helped develop an individual qualifier for the NCAA Cross Country championships in each of her two seasons, and tutored Maria McDaniel to the top of the 5k podium at the 2015 Mid-American Conference Championships.
“She’s a gifted, young coach with a solid educational and athletic background. Scoring in the Big Ten and running in the NCAA XC Nationals are great experiences to draw from along with her graduate degree in kinesiology (with emphasis in coaching). Most importantly, Bekah develops strong, immediate connections with the team as we work toward our SEC and NCAA goals.”
– Vanderbilt Head Coach Steve Keith
Prior to her experience at Western Michigan, Smeltzer was the graduate assistant at her alma mater Michigan State. As a coach with the Spartans, she helped the team to back-to-back Big Ten cross country titles in 2012 and 2013. On the track, she coached individual Big Ten champions in the 3,000, 5,000 and steeplechase while also helping Leah O’Connor to the individual indoor championship in the mile in 2014.
“Vanderbilt is in a league all its own with its nationally recognized academic programs, amazing facilities in a vibrant city and close-knit community. It also offers plenty of support and resources for student-athletes to succeed during and after graduation. Culture is a very important aspect of any successful team and I want to do everything I can to protect the amazing culture Vanderbilt has created and continues to build.”
– Rebekah Smeltzer
As a runner, Smeltzer enjoyed a solid career running on the Spartans’ Big Ten cross country champion teams in 2010 and 2011. A native of Monroe, Michigan, she ran in the NCAA Cross Country championships four times with the Spartans and was named All-Region three times. On the track, she placed sixth in the 10,000 meters in 2012 and qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field championships.
The Smeltzer File
• Assistant Coach, Vanderbilt (2016-present)
• Assistant Coach, Western Michigan (2014-16)
• Graduate Assistant, Michigan State (2012-14)