Nov. 21, 2011
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Headed into the NCAA Cross Country Championships for the first time in school history, Vanderbilt head coach Steve Keith tentatively expressed his hopes for a top-ten finish.
But, as the girls have done in every race this season, they outran his expectations, placing sixth out of a 31-team field in Terre Haute, Ind. They were led by senior Alexa Rogers, finishing 39th overall with a time of 20:31. By finishing in the top 40, Rogers earned another remarkable mark of distinction and school first: All-American honors.
The Commodores placed their top runners, one through five, in a span of 35 seconds, maintaining the grouping they've become known for this season. The top five finishers for the team were, in order, Rogers, Anderson, Jordan White, Louise Hannallah and Kristen Smith. Freshman Grace Orders showed off her talent and potential with a top-100 finish in her first year competing at this level.
"Awesome is the word," said Keith, choosing to echo his freshmen runners' favorite word. "Totally awesome race by the ladies. We followed our plan, all six were together at the halfway, then they gained 100 points in position to pull up to 6th in the second half."
At the 3K split, the team was grouped well in 15th place, working as they have all season, pacing and position themselves to tackle the second half.
"You can't single any one person out because it was just a complete team effort," said Keith. " Kristen Smith, Louise, Jordan, Grace and Amira--just an outstanding race for the freshmen. It's a beautiful way to end the season."
Making it to the championships was a massive achievement all on it's own for this Vanderbilt team, whose women broke every record and expectation along the way this season as they earned their first SEC title and first trip to the national meet. They have only sent two individual representatives to the championships in the history of the program--once by Pamela Johnson in 1997, and once last year, when White finished 112th at the meet.
Villanova's Sheila Reid was the overall individual finisher and the new NCAA Cross Country Champion, while Georgetown won as a team.
Team finish:282 points, 6th overall
Average time: 20:51
Spread from top five runners: 35.0
(team finish/scoring finish/bib number/name/class/3K split time/final time)
1 27 673 Alexa Rogers SR 10:13 20:31
2 29 668 Liz Anderson SO 10:13 20:33
3 72 675 Jordan White JR 10:13 21:01
4 75 670 Louise Hannallah SR 10:13 21:03
5 79 674 Kristen Smith JR 10:14 21:06
6 ( 91) 672 Grace Orders FR 10:13 21:13
7 (159) 671 Amira Joseph FR 10:28 21:49