Schneble Becomes Commodores’ First Drake Relays Champion
Sets New Team Mark with 5,000-Meter Winning Performance
DES MOINES, Iowa — Vanderbilt sophomore Erika Schneble became the first Commodore athlete to win an event at the prestigious Drake Relays by capturing the 5,000-meter run in record time Thursday.
Schneble, a native of Hendersonville, N.C., raced in second place through two miles, then ran away from such standouts Liz Guerrini, Purdue’s Lindsey Zinn and recent Kansas Relays winner Steffi Murer of Kansas State, to claim the victory. Schneble finished the race in 16:26.87, nearly two seconds under her previous team record set just two weeks ago.
“Before the race, I decided to let someone else take the lead. I followed the runner from Purdue for the first two miles, then went for the lead because I thought the pace was too slow. I felt very comfortable,” Schneble said. She defeated her nearest competitor, Guerrini, by 11 seconds.
“I was delighted with her performance,” said Jim Spivey, the Commodore women’s distance coach. “Erika ran a winning race, and closed really well. I had her last mile in 5:05. That was an outstanding performance.”
The performance continues Schneble’s streak of impressive races. Last weekend, she set a NCAA qualifying standard in the 1,500-meter run while winning the Vanderbilt Invitational in a personal record 4:25.82. On April 10, she established the Vanderbilt 5,000-meter record, smashing the old mark with a 16:28.43 effort in Knoxville.
Schneble, who has the Southeastern Conference’s second fastest 5,000 meters this spring, is expected to compete next week at the Cardinal Invitational in Northern California. The meet host, Stanford, has one of the nation’s top women’s distance programs, with four current NCAA qualifiers at the 5,000-meter distance.
Schneble’s freshman teammate, Debbie Huss, also competed in the 5,000, finishing 15th with an effort of 17:34.44. The Commodores’ 4×1,600-meter relay squad of Ashleigh Wetzel, Alisa Cotter, Jocelyn Theriault and Caitlin Shannon finished an impressive fourth in 20:19.
Several Commodores are competing in the Drake Relays through Saturday. On Friday, Amanda Mullins-Hall will run in the 100-meter hurdles while Shannon, Vanessa Lagios, Latisha Bryant and Wetzel are scheduled to race in the distance medley relay. On Saturday, the Commodores are expected to field entries in the sprint medley relay and 4×800-meter relay.