Commodores have solid showing in Tallahassee

Oct. 11, 2014


Vanderbilt head coach Steve Keith was pleased with his team’s performance on Friday night at the Florida State Invitational.

That doesn’t mean, however, that he was satisfied.

In their final tuneup before the SEC Championships, the Commodores earned a fifth-place finish among a solid field of Division-I schools. Keith said he was encouraged by the Commodores’ performance — which were fueled by Nick French’s Top-10 finish — but said he believes the Commodores are capable of an even stronger showing in the upcoming SEC Championships.

“Our team average (which was 26:33 on Friday) is getting better,” he said, “but I know we can get closer to 26:00 when we run SEC in three weeks.”

French led the way for the Commodores, taking 10th place with a time of 25:52.64 at Friday’s race, which took place on the same course that will host next month’s NCAA Regionals.

Vanderbilt had two other runners among the Top-25, with John Ewing taking 16th at 26:18.68 and Jake Van Geffen finishing 25th at 26:37.67.

The strong effort by the Commodores enabled them to bounce back from what they considered to be a disappointing showing at the Roy Griak Invitational.

“We ran a much better race this time,” said Keith. “And this is was what we needed as we prepare for the SEC Championship. Nick French’s (high finish) was great to see.”

Vanderbilt’s Sam Reilly took 27th at 26:43.74, and Andrew Fix was 34th at 27:15.24. Rounding out Vanderbilt’s representatives were: Andrew Bachman (38th at 27:26.73), Nikolaos Gkotsis (44th at 27:47.33), Matthew Cleveland (47th at 27:53.75) and Sam DeFabrizio (53rd at 28:32.41).

Keith noted that the conditions weren’t ideal for fast times, with temperatures in the 80s, but said the Commodores made the most of the opportunity.

Vanderbilt will travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the SEC Championships on Oct. 31.