Oct. 31, 2013
Gainesville, Fla. -
Vanderbilt's men's and women's cross country teams are set to compete at the Southeastern Conference Championships Friday morning in Gainesville, Fla.
"The SEC is a totally different animal compared to the last few very large national meets that the men and women have run," head coach Steve Keith said. "Now we are in more of a head to head, match up, type race and we have to redirect our focus to this style of racing. Both squads are fit and healthy and they put in some very solid work last week so I know that they are ready to run. This meet has been a focused goal for both teams since we first got together at preseason camp in August so now it's time to get after it."
The women's squad will be in search of the school's second-ever league title after winning it for the first time in 2011. The Dores finished third on their home course at Percy Warner Park at last year's SEC Championships with Hannah Jumper earning first team All-SEC recognition with a seventh overall finish.
Vandy will have 10 ladies toe the line on Friday with Rebecca Chandler, Liz Anderson and Hannah Jumper returning from last year's third place team. For Anderson it is her fourth trip to the SEC Championships with a best of fourth place overall in 2011. Chandler makes her third straight trip to the Championships having earned Freshman All-SEC honors at the 2011 race. Amira Joseph returns to the Championships for the first time since earning Freshman All-SEC honors in 2011. Claire Benjamin, Vanessa Valentine, Katherine Delaney and freshmen Lily Williams, Reagan Anderson and Carmen Carlos are all slated to make their SEC Championships debut.
"The women have been working hard since their last race in Wisconsin and I am very happy with the way workouts have gone, especially last week," assistant coach Rhonda Riley said. "The goal is to have a complete race from every individual on Friday. In order for us to be top 3 at the championships we need everyone to step up and race to their potential. The competition is the deepest I have seen since my time here and it will be a very close team race
For Vanderbilt's men's squad eight Commodores will line up at the starting line on Friday led by junior John Ewing. The Dores finished 12th last year at the SEC Championships in Nashville, marking the first time since 2009 the non-scholarship team finished ahead of a team at the championship race. Ewing paced Vandy over the 8K race last year finishing 58th overall.
Senior David McAdams makes his fourth appearance at the meet with Ewing and Andrew Bachman making their third. Matthew Cleveland and Nick French make their second trip to the meet after debuting at Percy Warner Park last fall. Andrew Fix, Sam Reilly and freshman Jake Van Geffen are all scheduled to make their SEC Championships debut on Friday.
"The men are ready for the championship portion of the season," Riley said. "They have been focused all season for Friday's race and they are up for the completion that the SEC presents."
The gun for the men's race is scheduled to go off at 8 a.m. CT on Friday morning at Mark Bostick Golf Course in Gainesville, Fla. with the women's race set to start at 9 a.m. CT.
"The SEC weekend is always special," Keith said. "Anytime you line up against all of your rivals, with a championship on the line, you can't help but get excited."