BATON ROUGE, La. — Junior Grace Jensen earned All-SEC second team honors at the SEC Cross Country Championships on Friday morning at LSU’s University Club.
The women finished in sixth-place while the men placed 11th with the program’s second-lowest point total in 40 years.
In the 6-kilometer women’s race, Vanderbilt finished with 198 points to earn the program’s 10th top-six finish in the last 11 years, including the 2011 SEC title. The men were led by junior Matthew Estopinal’s 21st-place finish and accumulated 248 points. Since 1980, that total was only bettered by last season’s 239 points.
“As much as it seemed like a short and simple season, it was a real emotional grind under the circumstances, and I’m proud of our group for doing all the right things,” Vanderbilt head coach Steve Keith said. “Grace was running like we wanted and worked her way into top 15 — it was the perfect race for her. The women’s sixth-place finish was better than our preseason ranking, and our younger runners got good view of where they can contribute so it was overall a solid effort.”
“It was pretty heavy up front (for the men). It was a challenge, but that’s a championship race. And it was a good day still. It can’t take away from where we are and where we’ve come from.”
Jensen was the first Commodore to earn all-conference honors since Sara Tsai in 2016. Maintaining a steady pace throughout, Jensen finished 13th overall with a time of 20:35.7.
Seniors Gillian Mortimer and Anna Grace Morgan each scored as Mortimer was 34th overall (21:13.9) and Morgan was 55th (21:36.3), while freshman Lainey Phelps finished between the senior duo in 52nd-place (21:32.0) and Haley Walker rounded out the Vanderbilt scoring with a 69th-place finish (21:54.6).
Behind Estopinal, who finished the men’s 8-kilometer race in 24:35.6, was classmate Nick Laning, who was honored as the SEC Men’s Cross Country Scholar-Athlete of the Year earlier this week and finished 27th with a time of 24:46.4.
Senior Caleb Van Geffen placed third on the team with a career-best 63rd-place finish (25:32.9) while fellow senior Edward Harpstead scored for the first time in potentially his last meet. Harpstead was the fifth Commodore to cross and 102nd overall at 27:18.9.
Meanwhile, in his first career SEC Championship meet, freshman Corey Pacernick was four places behind Van Geffen and fourth on the team with a time of 25:40.8.
The SEC Championships conclude the fall season as the 2020 NCAA Cross Country Championships are set to take place in the spring.