TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Vanderbilt women’s cross country team capped off an excellent 2009 season as they ran into the school record books with a fifth place finish at the NCAA South Regional Championships on Saturday. The Commodores’ top-five finish ties for the best finish in the program’s 27-year existence.
Florida and Florida State finished first and second in the women’s 6,000-meter race while Tennessee, Georgia and Vanderbilt rounded out the top-five. The ‘Dores defeated four SEC teams on the day, including Auburn, host Alabama, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
“Super effort by our top five runners led by Rita's all-region performance (25th overall),” Head Coach Steve Keith said. “Jordan and Louise were just behind and gave us a group of three in the top 30. Allie Scalf had a strong finish, as did Kristabel with both picking up valuable pts in the last 400 meters. This meet caps off a great season and with everyone back next year we look forward to even better results.”
Jorgensen earned all-region honors for the second consecutive season after pacing the Commodores with a season best time of 21:12.74, good for 25th place. Jorgensen’s time Saturday was 48 seconds faster than her previous season high time.
Jordan White was the second VU runner to cross the finish line on Saturday, clocking a career best 21:20.85, good for 28th place. White’s regional time was a minute faster than her previous season best, in which she ran two weeks ago at the SEC Championships en route to earning All-SEC Freshman honors.
Sophomore Louise Hannallah finished just two seconds and one spot back of White, giving Vanderbilt three runners in the top 30. Like Jorgensen and White, Hannallah set a personal record of her own with a time of 21:22.12 in the 6K.
Freshman Allie Scalf was the fourth VU runner to finish while junior Kristabel Doebel-Hickok rounded out VU’s top five runners. Scalf topped her previous best time in the 6K by over half a minute, finishing with 21:52.99 while Doebel-Hickok clocked a season-best 21:59.67, good for 54th.
“This season has been about the "team" and how we can position ourselves to move the program forward,” Keith said. “We (the coaches) are extremely proud of everyone's efforts. It has been a real pleasure to watch this group mature and develop.”
Assistant coach Rhonda Riley agreed that the program is on the rise and that there are a lot of positives to take from this season.
"I am extremely proud of what our women accomplished today,” Riley added. “The team chemistry is amazing right now and it shows when they run. All year we have focused on running as a pack and this young squad is seeing the benefits of running together as a team. It has been an incredible season and feels good to finish strong."
On the men’s side, Vanderbilt closed out the 2009 season on Saturday by finishing 22nd out of 26 teams in the men’s 10K race.