Feb. 24, 2018
COLLEGE STATION, Texas Â- Pole vaulter Kristen Denk, sprinter Jenn Edobi, miler Kendall Derry and distance runner Megan Huebner paced an impressive Vanderbilt performance during the opening day of competition at the Southeastern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships Saturday.
Denk, a redshirt sophomore from North Royalton, Ohio, became the second-highest Commodore vaulter ever indoors with a sixth-place finish. Edobi, a senior from Union, N.J., and Derry, a sophomore from Fair Oaks, Calif., used stunning personal-bests to advance to the SEC Indoor finals Sunday. Huebner, a senior from La Quinta, Calif., ended the day by earning a seventh-place result in the 3,000-meter run.
The four were among a dozen Commodore performers to set career- or season-bests, giving the Vanderbilt coaching staff plenty to smile about from the first day of competition.
“I’m very happy for our team, just really proud of how virtually every member of this squad competed today,” head coach Steve Keith said. “I thought Kristen competed at a high level in the pole vault and Kendall really gave us an early lift with her performance in the mile. Then, to see Jenn put together that strong 400 finish and Megan finish it off by running that 3,000 was very exciting for all of us.
“We came here really wanting to compete better than we had to this point and I think we accomplished that. It was a good day and I look forward to seeing more Sunday of what I witnessed today,” Keith added.
Denk, a transfer from Tennessee who finished fifth at the 2016 indoor conference meet, established a new career-best in leading a talented Commodore vault corps. After starting the competition by clearing the opening 12-9.50 height on her second jump, Denk topped 13-3.50 on her first attempt.
Denk established her indoor career-best on the next height, clearing 13-9.25 on her second try. She had three unsuccessful attempts at a school-record 14-1.25.
The only Commodore to ever go higher indoors than Denk is senior teammate Sarah Bell, who cleared 13’11.25 last year.
Sophomore vaulter Caleigh Lofstead just missed adding team points for the Commodores with a ninth-place finish after clearing 13-3.50. Bell finished 10th and sophomore Margaret Ollinger earned 14th after exiting the competition at 13-3.50.
Huebner, coming off a solid 3,000 meters two weeks ago at the Music City Challenge, closed strong to finish the 3,000 in 9:38.27, three seconds faster than her previous best. She moves up to No. 9 on the team’s all-time indoor charts with the performance.
Edobi and Derry used career-best performances to qualify for the Sunday finals in the 400 meters and mile, respectively.
Edobi took a full second off her season-best effort in the 400, finishing sixth in qualifying with a 53.45 that featured a strong final 100-meter speed. Ebodi’s performance was .02 faster than her previous best set last winter when she finished ninth in the SEC Indoor 400.
The only Commodore to run 400 meters faster than Ebodi is former national champion Ryan Tolbert. The 1997 NCAA 400-meter hurdles champion ran the indoor 400 in 52.75 in 1996.
Derry didn’t reach the Vanderbilt all-time top 10 for her performance in the mile, but she smashed her previous best effort at the distance.
Derry, a biomedical engineering major, took more than four seconds off her career best with a clocking of 4:52.22 to earn her way into the finals. A second Commodore competing in the mile, junior Ginger Hutton, was almost as impressive as Derry, cutting her personal-best by six seconds with the 13th place time of 4:54.16.
Two Commodore 800-meter specialists, Reagan Bustamante and Becca Schulte, narrowly missed qualifying for the finals. They both ran season-best times, finishing ninth and 10th in 2:10.06 and 2:10.09, respectively.
Freshman Sophia Falco rose to second on the team’s all-time indoor charts, with a collegiate-best long jump of 19-1.25.
The full Vanderbilt results from Day 1 of the SEC indoor meet follows –
60 meters – 32. Sophia Falco 7.65.
200 meters – 33. Regan Clay 24.91.
400 meters – 6. ^Jenn Edobi 53.45. 33. R. Clay 57.11.
800 meters – 9. Reagan Bustamante 2:10.06. 10. Becca Schulte 2:10.09.
Mile – 10. ^Kendall Derry 4.52.22. 13. Ginger Hutton 4:54.16.
3,000 meters – 7. Megan Huebner 9:38.27. 13. Devon Grisbaum 9:55.05. 17. Gillian Mortimer 10.00.68. 23. Kacie Breeding 10:07.57. 25. Anna Grace Morgan 10:10.01.
Long jump – 13. S. Falco 5.82m/19-1.25.
Pole vault – 6. Kristen Denk 4.20m/13-9.25. 9. Caleigh Lofstead 4.05m/13-3.50. T-10. Sarah Bell 3.90m/12-9.50. T-14. Margaret Ollinger 3.90m/12-9.50.
^ – denotes runners who advanced to finals on Sunday