It’ll be a busy weekend for the Vanderbilt Cross Country teams, as they split into two groups and head to two of the largest meets in the country.
Seven members of the women’s group—top runners Alexa Rogers, Louise Hanallah, Jordan White, Liz Anderson, Kristen Smith, Kristen Findley, and Grace Orders—head to Friday’s Wisconsin Adidas Invitational to compete against over forty teams, twenty of them ranked in the Top-30. It will be the first race that all seven compete together.
“It’s the perfect time of the year to do that,” said Head Coach Steve Keith about the team competing this weekend. “This meet is so unlike any other meet we will see, it is impossible to compare it. The quality will be almost as good or better [than Nationals] because of these extra teams with the extra top individuals.”
The race will feature 300 runners in the 6K event, providing a challenge for athletes as they jockey for position.
“Depending on how you get out--you’ve got 200 people trying to get out into a spot that fits about 50 people-- you just have to deal with the situation, you just have to deal with the crowd, and you have to try to better your situation if you don’t get out in the right spot,” said Keith.
The rest of the women’s team and men’s team head to Terre Haute for the pre-nationals meet, held at Indiana State on Sunday. The meet features several top-ranked teams and a competitive field of athletes.
“For the men and women, it’s going to be everything they want and then some,” said Keith. “It’ll be a good developmental opportunity for a couple of our freshmen runners like Rebecca Chandler and Amira Joseph, and for the guys it’ll be one more opportunity to try to group up and get things ready for the SEC.”
The races in Indiana get underway Sunday at 10:00 a.m. CT with the men’s 8K, while the women’s 6K race begins at 10:40 a.m. The seven competing in Wisconsin start their 6K race at 1:00 p.m. CT on Friday.
“We’re going to try to take the same attitude we had going into the Griak meet,” said Keith of the team’s approach to their races. “We’ll take a confident, competitive attitude up there, and we’ll let it fall as it may.”
Quicknotes: -The women's teams will be wearing pink to show support for National Breast Cancer Awareness. The team started the tradition last year. -Keep an eye on the trio of Rogers, Hanallah, and White, who have finished 1-2-3 for the Commdores all season when they run together. -Senior Rogers ran her best race at the Roy Griak Invitational last month, pacing the Commodores pack for the first time. -Anderson, who opened her season two weekends ago at Louisville, led the Dores with a 9th place overall finish.