NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Vanderbilt cross country teams will lift the lid on the 2017 season this weekend at the Belmont Opener at Percy Warner Park in Nashville on Saturday morning. Vanderbilt will be competing in a field of seven teams including local squads in host Belmont, Lipscomb and Trevecca Nazarene.
Setting the Stage
Event: Belmont Opener
Date: Saturday, Sept. 2
Host: Belmont University
Site: Percy Warner Park
Start Times: Women's 5k: 9 a.m. l Men's 5k: 9:30 a.m.
Directions to the course: HERE
Results/Live Timing: HERE
Let’s Get It Started
Saturday’s opener marks the 13th consecutive year the Commodores have opened the season at the Belmont Opener. The Commodores co-hosted the event with Belmont from 2005-11. The Commodores have done well at the event, placing in the top 10 each year. The Vanderbilt women have also claimed the event title six times and are looking to make it back-to-back titles this weekend.
From the Coaches
Head Coach Steve Keith
On opening the season …
“We’re right where we should be for the start of the season. The kids are working hard. The last two weeks have been really good, real consistent. This is a small meet so it affords you the chance to try some things, not get lost in the crowd and find each other since group running is something that we really like to focus on.”
On what the team goals are for the season …
“Every year is a new dynamic. It’s a new team with new leaders and even though some kids have been running together for three or four years, it’s still new and you have to re-establish that connection. They have worked hard together in workouts so now they need to work hard together in races to try and maximize that.”
Assistant Coach Rebekah Smeltzer
On the opening meet …
“It’s nice to start of the year with a smaller meet where there isn’t a lot of pressure. It’s more about getting the freshman acquainted with our routine, how to do things and how to act. We’re trying to implement certain strategies and just getting feedback on where we’re at with that and where we need to go. Every race - no matter how big or small it is - is about maximizing who you are on that day and learning from each opportunity and applying those lessons to the next racing opportunity. No matter the race, we’re going to continue to do that. We look forward to see the team reap the rewards of a solid summer of training.”
Scouting The Field
The field for this weekend features seven teams which will field both men’s and women’s teams. The field includes: Belmont (Host), Austin Peay, Evansville, Lipscomb, Rhodes, Trevecca Nazarene and Vanderbilt.
In The Rankings
The Commodores were featured in several preseason rankings. The Vanderbilt women were picked No. 5 in the SEC preseason poll while the men checked in at No. 12. In the USTFCCCA preseason poll, the women earned a No. 3 ranking in the South Region and received votes in the national preseason poll.
Scheduled to Run
A total of 19 Vanderbilt runners will compete this weekend. A list of all runners competing is listed below:
This weekend also marks the debut of four freshmen between the men’s and women’s teams. Anna Grace Morgan and Gillian Mortimer will make their debut for the women, while Edward Harpstead and Caleb Van Geffen will be running for the first time in the Black and Gold for the men.
A Look at the 2017 Schedule
Saturday’s opener is the first of four regular-season meets for the Commodores this season. Following the Belmont Opener, Vanderbilt will host the Commodore Classic on Sept. 16 before traveling to the Louisville Classic (Sept. 30) and getting a preview of the NCAA South Regional course at the Alabama Crimson Classic (Oct. 13). The ‘Dores will head to Athens, Ga., for the SEC Championship on Oct. 27 before heading back to Tuscaloosa for the NCAA South Regional on Nov. 10.
Another Van Geffen on the Commodore Roster
For the Van Geffen’s it’s a cross country family affair. Following in his older brother Jake Van Geffen’s footsteps, freshman Caleb Van Geffen will make his Commodore debut this weekend. Older brother Jake, graduated last May and was awarded an NCAA Postgraduate scholarship.
Flashback to 2016 Belmont Opener
The Commodores both had top-five showings against last year’s field at the Belmont Opener with the Commodore women claiming top honors for the third time in the last five years. Sara Tsai won the women’s race with a time of 17:29.9 to pace the women’s team to its first-place finish, while Jake Van Geffen paced the men with a time of 15:48.3 to lead the men’s team to a fourth-place finish.
Follow The Commodores on Social Media
For all the latest information on the Vanderbilt cross country teams give them a follow on Twitter at @vandyxctrack.