Men's and Women's Cross Country both posted better than a 3.00 GPA last fall.
Sophomore finishes 42nd in final race of fall.
Vanderbilt heads to NCAA South Regional on Friday morning.
John Ewing paces Commodores.
The cross country and track and field teams hold their seventh annual pumpkin carving contest.
Images from the men's 8K Race at the SEC Championship in Maryville, Tenn. 10/31/2011.
Former Commodore runner Steve Keith returned to his alma mater in the fall of 2006 after spending more than 20 years coaching top-flight athletes at three other universities. Keith, a 1981 graduate of Vanderbilt, spent his first five years at Vanderbilt as the Head Cross Country Coach for both men and women. Just recently, Keith was named Head Track & Field / Cross Country Coach in the summer of 2011, a position in which he oversees both the women's and men's cross country teams as well as women's track and field. A native of St. Louis, the 52-year-old Keith sees tremendous potential in his new responsibilities. "This Vanderbilt position has been a dream job for me and I know that Vanderbilt and the Athletic Department have all the ingredients for success."
In his first five seasons with the Commodores, both the men's and women's programs have earned All-Academic honors (with distinction) with Team GPA's over 3.4 for the team. On the track, Keith has developed eleven NCAA Regional / NCAA 1st Round qualifiers at events ranging from 800 to 5,000 meters and including the 3,000-meter steeplechase along with one NCAA Cross Country National qualifier.
Current middle distance standouts Jordan White, Alexa Rogers and Liz Anderson are the latest of Keith's NCAA qualifiers. White (4:25.58) and Rogers (4:26.54) both qualified in the 1500 meters and freshman Liz Anderson ran the 4th best time in school history (16:29.67) in the 5,000 just narrowly missing a berth in the NCAA National Finals this past outdoor season. Also of note in the spring of 2011, senior Rita Jorgensen ran a school record 800 meter time of 2:05.54 in qualifying for the NCAA 1st Round. Jorgensen finished off her stellar career scoring both indoors (mile-3rd) and outdoors (800-5th) at the SEC Championships.
The fall of 2010 was a record-breaking season for Keith and the Commodore cross country team. The women finished third in the SEC and third in the region while having Jordan White and Rita Jorgensen gain All-SEC honors. Newcomer Liz Anderson was also named to the All-SEC Freshman team. The 3rd place finishes at both the SEC and the NCAA Region are best ever placing's for the women's program. This historic season was capped off with Jordan White becoming just the 2nd Vanderbilt individual to qualify for the NCAA Championships with her 10th place finish at the Region meet. White would go on the place 112th at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, IN. The men's team consistently remains one of the top of Division I men's cross country programs academically in the NCAA and they have regularly finished in the top 15 of the Region over the past 5 years.
Under Keith, the Vanderbilt Track all-time lists continue to be rewritten with numerous top-10 performances from the 800 through the 10,000. Several new school standards have been established, including the indoor 3,000 meters, outdoor 800 meters and outdoor 10,000 meters, by Keith-conditioned standouts. Nearly every meet produces at least a few personal bests for members of Keith's distance corps. Over their first year each of Keith's new student-athletes has seen a significant drop from their best HS times and they have continued to progress through their senior year which is a main focus and goal of the program. "Our Coaching Staff takes tremendous pride and pleasure in seeing our seniors finish their careers with personal bests. This is what we are all in it for."
As a Vanderbilt alum and cross country letter winner from 1977-81, Keith understands that success as a Commodore rides on maintaining the delicate balance of excellence on the track and in the classroom. Keith has the professional experience - including Division I tenures at Alabama, Texas-El Paso and Georgia Tech - to guide the Commodores into the future.
"I'm very familiar with the level of competition and caliber it takes to be at the top of the conference. If you can be an SEC title contender then you can be at a top 10 national level and that is our goal," Keith said. "Our recruiting has been geared to building a contending program and we have seen significant progress toward this goal."
Before arriving at Vanderbilt, Keith served five years as head women's cross country coach at the University of Alabama. Keith mentored three members of the Crimson Tide women's distance corps to All-SEC honors.
Prior to coaching in the SEC, Keith worked with distance runners at the University of Texas-El Paso. In the Texas border community, Keith directed one of the nation's leading distance teams. Coaching both men and women, Keith's runners at UTEP included a pair of NCAA national individual champions and 22 All-America recipients. His top UTEP pupils included Svetlana Badrankova, Jim Svenoy, Carlos Suarez and Bashar Ibrahim.
Badrankova was an elite half-miler, capturing the NCAA women's 800 meters in 2001. Badrankova remains one of the fastest collegiate runners ever at 800 meters, with a personal best of 2:00.9. Svenoy, a Norwegian, won the 1995 NCAA 3,000-meter steeplechase and was a two-time Olympic finalist in the event. Svenoy's winning NCAA effort of 8:21 in the steeplechase still ranks among the all-time Top 10 collegiate runners. Suarez and Ibrahim were All-American middle distance runners, both running sub-4:00 miles.
At Georgia Tech, Keith mentored four All-Americans, including 1,500-meter standout Alan Drosky. Besides Drosky, the other Georgia Tech All-American recipients were steeplechaser Eric Smith, 5,000-meter runner Karen Hoffman, and 800-meter runner Shellie O'Neal.
Keith started his collegiate coaching career at Emory University, serving as distance coach from 1983 to 1986. In his three years there, the men's team qualified for NCAA D-III Cross Country Nationals finishing 20th, 19th and 17th with two individual All-Americans.
Men's Cross Country Headlines