Nov. 8, 2012
The Vanderbilt cross country team heads to the NCAA South Regional in Tallahassee, Fla., on Friday, November 9. The women's 6K race will begin at 7:30 a.m. CT, followed by the men's 10K race at 8:15 a.m. CT.
The races are being hosted by Florida State at Apalachee Regional Park. The Vanderbilt women's squad will be looking to reach the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive season.
The Commodore women enter the Regional ranked third in the South Region according to the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Association Poll. Host Florida State is ranked first in the region, as well as nationally, while 2012 SEC Champion Florida is ranked second.
Vanderbilt will be looking for strong performances from its top two runners, Kristen Findley and Hannah Jumper, as a way to position for an individual berth in the NCAA Championships, should the team fail to qualify. The pair powered Vanderbilt to a third-place finish at the SEC Championships two weeks ago.
Jumper was Vanderbilt's top finisher league championships, finishing seventh to earn First Team All-SEC honors. The redshirt freshman's time of 20:41 also made her the top rookie finisher in the race and helped her capture SEC Freshman of the Year Honors.
Findley finished right behind Jumper at the SEC meet, finishing eighth with a time of 20:43. The senior earned Second Team All-SEC honors for her performance.
Head Coach Steve Keith knows his top duo is ready for the meet, especially coming off the SEC meet.
"K-Fin and Hannah, we definitely need in the top-10," Keith said. "It's really not that different from the SEC meet, so our targets for each kid of if we want top-10, top-20, top-25, are really the same."
The key for a low team score for Vanderbilt will be getting their next three scoring runners as low as possible. Look for, among others, Liz Anderson, Jordan White, Kristen Smith and Amira Joseph, to score for the Commodores.
On the men's side, Keith is optimistic that with a solid team performance, the Commodores can finish in the top-20 or top-15.
"It's going to be a little crowded," Keith said. "But if the guys can run in a group as well as possible, and they've been doing that, they can be in the top-20 or top-15 even."
Throughout the country, men's and women's teams will be looking to be one of 31 teams in each gender that qualifies for the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday, November 17. The top two team finishers in each of nine regions automatically qualify, followed by 13 at-large teams.