Commodores run strong in Belmont Opener

Aug. 30, 2014



It was almost like the members of the Vanderbilt women's cross country team were linked together by an invisible chain on Friday afternoon as they ran their way to a victory at Percy Warner Park.

Competing in their first meet of the season, the No. 23-ranked Commodores executed their "pack-running" plan to perfection while delivering a dominating performance at the Belmont Opener.

Vanderbilt won the 12-team, 5k race with 20 points and an overall time of 1:29:29.11. Kentucky finished a distant second with 79 points and MTSU (105 points) was third.

All 12 of Vanderbilt's representatives finished within 36 seconds of one another, and they each earned spots among the top-17. The list included seven Commodore who crossed the line in succession while claiming the No. 2 through No. 8 finishes.

The Vanderbilt men also had a strong effort, finishing fifth with an overall time of 1:21:19.87.

"We wanted to use this race to get a jumpstart on the season and to really get some positive momentum going," said head coach Steve Keith. "And it was mission accomplished today."

Katherine Delaney was the Commodores' top finisher in the women's race, earning second place with a time of 17:40.42. She was followed directly by teammates Lily Williams (17:51.13), Carmen Carlos (17:54.47), Reagan Anderson (18:00.70), Sara Barron (18:02.39), Vanessa Valentine (18:02.58) and Rebecca Chandler (18:02.75).

"We stuck together today," said Delaney. "When I looked left and looked right, I had two teammates there. And that's how it's going to be the rest of the season. That's our goal."

The second wave of Commodores claimed the No. 12 through 15 spots -- beginning with Claire Benjamin (18:08.51), who was followed by Amira Joseph (18:09.04), Emma Abrahamson (18:09.31) and Megan Huebner (18:09.72). Maddie Criscione (18:17.45) finished on their heels, taking 17th.

Abrahamson, Huebner and Criscione, all freshmen, were running in their first collegiate race, and they each contributed to the Commodores' stout showing.

"This is the most impressive opener we've had," said assistant coach Rhonda Riley. "The girls' fitness is great and their chemistry is awesome. (As a coaching staff), we're really happy."

Keith said he was impressed with the Commodores' pack mentality, which he believes is going to be a key element for the team this season.

"We had a couple of clumps there where I couldn't click my watch fast enough because they were all coming in together," he said.

Vanderbilt's top finisher on the men's side was Nick French, who took 29th at 15:58.11. John Ewing was 37th at 16:08.69, and Jake Van Geffen was 38th at 16:08.81.

Riley said she felt it was the Commodores best-ever showing in a season opener. For full interviews with Riley and Keith, see videos below. 

Vanderbilt returns to Percy Warner Park in two weeks to host the Commodore Classic.

Place, Name, Time
2 Delaney, Katherine 17:40.42
3 Williams, Lily 17:51.13
4 Carlos, Carmen 17:54.47
5 Anderson, Reagan 18:00.70
6 Barron, Sara 18:02.39
7 Valentine, Vanessa 18:02.58
8 Chandler, Rebecca 18:02.75
12 Benjamin, Claire 18:08.51
13 Joseph, Amira 18:09.04
14 Abrahamson, Emma 18:09.31
15 Huebner, Megan 18:09.72
17 Criscione, Maddie 18:17.45

Team, Points, Time
(1) Vanderbilt 20 (1:29:29.11)
(2) Kentucky 79 (1:31:47.84)
(3) MTSU 105 (1:33:25.34)
(4) Purdue 113 (1:33:46.63)
(5) Lipscomb 122 (1:33:49.22)
(6) Belmont 148 (1:34:40.66)
(7) Western Kentucky 175 (1:36:09.57)
(8) Murray State 213 (1:37:53.43)
(9) UAB 224 (1:39:02.96)
(10) Evansville 290 (1:42:40.10)
(11) Austin Peay 314 (1:44:08.67)
(12) Tennessee State 384 (1:58:52.59)

Place, Name, Time
29 French, Nick 15:58.11
37 Ewing, John 16:08.69
38 Van Geffen, Jake 16:08.81
46 Gkotsis, Nikolaos 16:31.36
49 Fix, Andrew 16:32.90
51 Bachman, Andrew 16:41.80
53 DeFabrizio, Sam 16:46.82
61 Cleveland, Matthew 17:16.91
73 Henderson, Dan 18:20.27

Team, Points, Time
(1) Purdue 25 (1:16:54.84)
(2) Belmont 52 (1:17:55.29)
(3) Western Kentucky 73 (1:18:34.84)
(4) Kentucky 94 (1:19:15.70)
(5) Vanderbilt 144 (1:21:19.87)
(6) Murray State 181 (1:23:20.58)
(7) Evansville 230 (1:28:29.90)
(8) Austin Peay 233 (1:28:18.66)
(9) Tennessee State 271 (1:43:44.21)



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