Commodores gain experiece at Griak


The Vanderbilt men finished 31st in the Men’s Gold Division 8k race at Saturday’s Roy Griak Invitational hosted by University of Minnesota.

Nick French (27:41) and John Ewing (28:12) led the way for the Commodores.

The Vanderbilt women’s team got a taste of national competition — and the Commodores, in turn, gave the other teams a taste of what they are capable of doing.

Running against a deep field that featured seven ranked teams, the No. 22-ranked Commodores posted an impressive eighth-place finish in the Women’s Gold 6k Race.

Vanderbilt’s top-five finishers were separated by only 21 seconds, representing the best 1-5 spread of any team in the field, which featured nearly 400 runners.

“This is one of those meets where the experience you gain is fantastic,” said head coach Steve Keith. “And for us to to have the best 1-5 spread is something we can really build on.”

Amira Joseph paced the Commodores, finishing 34th with a time of 22:10. Sara Barron was the second Commodore to cross the line, posting a time of 22:16 to take 40th.

“Amira ran a beautiful race, and ran very smart,” said assistant coach Rhonda Riley. “She ran within herself and she had a really strong finish just when a lot of the other girls were dropping off. … And as for Sara, she just has that fire in her eye this season. She is running very competitive races.”

The Commodores have now run three races and have had three different runners lead the team — Katherine Delaney at the Belmont Opener, Carmen Carlos at the Commodore Classic, and now, Joseph.

“I think that absolutely speaks to our depth,” said Keith. “We really are very interchangeable.”

In addition to the strong showings by Joseph and Barron, the Commodores’ top five finishers also included Lilly Williams (22:24, 50th), Carmen Carlos (22:28, 54th) and Vanessa Valentine (22:31, 59th). They were followed by Reagan Anderson (22:34, 61st) and Rebecca Chander (22:52, 82nd).

Delaney posted a time of 22:57 and was followed by Claire Benjamin (22:58), Megan Huebner (23:01), Emma Abrahamson (23:01), Maddie Criscione (23:30), Hannah Jumper (23:30) and Courtney Kriegshauser (24:10) for the Commodores, who clearly held their own against their stiffest competition of the season.

Michigan State (66 points) won the event, and Iowa State (102) took second.

“This was a buzzsaw of a race, and the field was deeper than it ever has been,” said Keith. “But our girls ran well. It was a good lesson for us.”

The Commodores were on the cusp of earning a top-5 overall finish, and needed their top runners to shave just five seconds off their times to accomplish that feat. Keith said that was an encouraging element of the race.

“We can get there,” he said. “We’re right at it. The girls are running well.”

Riley said the Commodores are getting stronger as they near the midway mark of their schedule.

“For where we are in the season — here at the end of September — we are pretty pleased,” she said. “We still have plenty of work to do, but I know the girls are excited about what’s ahead.”

Up next for the Vanderbilt men is the Florida State Invitational on Oct. 10. Next for the Vanderbilt women is the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Oct. 17.