Tough test awaits Commodores at Notre Dame Invite

Oct. 1, 2015

Event: Notre Dame Invitational
Day, Date: Oct. 2
Host: Notre Dame
Site: South Bend, Ind.
Start Times: 1 p.m. – Women’s Blue Division Race (5k) l 1:45 p.m. – Men’s Blue Division Race (5 Miles) l 2:30 p.m. – Open Race (Women, 5k; Men, 5 Miles) l 3:15 p.m. – Women’s Gold Division (5k) l 4 p.m. – Men’s Gold Division (5 Miles)
Results: HERE

The Vanderbilt men and women travel to South Bend, Ind., this weekend to compete in the tradition-steeped Notre Dame Invitational. It will be the Commodores’ first appearance in the meet during head coach Steve Keith’s tenure, and the outstanding field will present a stiff mid-season test for both Vanderbilt teams. Here’s a closer look at the meet:

l The skinny on the Commodores. The VU squads charge into their third meet of the season with momentum and confidence. The VU women — ranked No. 22 in the nation and No. 1 in the South Region by the USTFCCCA — are coming off a history-making performance at their most recent meet, the Commodore Classic on Sept. 19. Competing against a field of talent-loaded teams, the Commodores roared to a second-place finish, thanks to a terrific performance by freshman Caroline Pietrzyk. She finished third overall with a time of 17:04.80, which represented the best performance by a Vanderbilt athlete in the 30-plus-year history of Vaughn’s Gap and the No. 5 all-time mark at the course. The Vanderbilt men also had a solid effort, earning 14th place among the deep field of schools.

l Strong competition. This weekend’s meet, which is considered one of the premiere events of the regular season each year, will feature 24 women’s teams and 20 more on the men’s side. The No. 22-ranked VU women are one of the four teams in the meet that are ranked among the USTFCCCA’s Top-30, and two additional teams are receiving votes. Vanderbilt will be one of four SEC teams at the meet, along with Florida, Missouri and Texas A&M.

l Scheduled to run for the Vanderbilt:
Women’s Blue Division (5k): Reagan Anderson, Sara Barron, Carmen Carlos, Maddie Criscione, Megan Huebner, Caroline Pietrzyk, Sara Tsai, Vanessa Valentine and Lily Williams.

Open Race (Women, 5k; Men, 5 Miles):
Devon Grisbaum, Ginger Hutton, Rebecca Jacobson, Courtney Kriegshauser and Sam Reilly.

Men’s Gold Division (5 miles):
Dan Arthur, Caleb Casolaro, Sam DeFabrizio, Nick French, Nikos Gkotsis, Evan Suzman, Jake Van Geffen and Jason Vincze.


Head coach Steve Keith:

On his team’s excitement about this weekend’s meet.
“The Notre Dame meet is always one of the best in the country, so we will look forward to competing and seeing what we can do. I think it’s been more than 10 years since a Vanderbilt team competed in this meet, and we are excited about it. … This meet will serve as a good benchmark for us.”

On having a full roster for the trip.
“We are allowed to run nine, so the whole team will travel. There’s the Open Race soon after the Women’s Invite, so everyone will be on the same page and will get the same feedback from running the same course. And that’s important as we move along and try to define our team a little bit.”

Associate head coach Rhonda Riley:

On the team’s goals for the meet.
“This weekend we would like to see the women group up even more than we have the previous two meets. Our fitness is coming along nicely, and we want to see the athletes really be a tight pack and work together.”

On the effect of the team’s success in the first two meets.
“There is a lot of momentum going for us right now and a lot of excitement. The girls are training hard right now, and they are starting to see the benefits of the workouts. And that alone is a big confidence boost. They understand that we have a lot more work to do in October, but where we are right now — it’s a good place.”