Champions again! VU captures second straight South Region title

Nov. 13, 2015

Event: NCAA South Regional
Day, Date: Friday, Nov. 13
Site: Harry Pritchett Running Park (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
Host: University of Alabama
Live Results: HERE
Championship Central: HERE
Host Championship Central: HERE
Vanderbilt’s All-Time Championships: HERE

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Vanderbilt pack made it back-to-back on Friday.

With freshman Caroline Pietrzyk storming to a second-place overall finish and the rest of Commodores crossing the line with an impressively-small spread, Vanderbilt captured its second consecutive NCAA South Region Championship on Friday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The win enabled the Commodores to secure their fifth straight trip to the NCAA Championships.

Pietrzyk, the SEC Female Freshman Runner of the Year, posted a time of 20:11.53 for the Commodores, who finished with 65 points. Mississippi State was second with 78 points and also clinched a spot at nationals. Host Alabama was third with 135 points.

“It’s always nice to be one of the auto-qualifying teams — and that was our goal to be top two,” said head coach Steve Keith. “We thought we had a shot at running with Mississippi State for the win and we had a good day today. We’re super excited.”

Vanderbilt senior Vanessa Valentine also earned a Top-10 finish, taking eighth at 20:31.51. Carmen Carlos was 12th at 20:36.73, Sara Barron was 22nd at 20:56.63 and freshman Sara Tsai was 24th at 21:00.72.

“We’ve talked about packing up all year … and today, those women just executed exactly the game plan,” said associate head coach Rhonda Riley. “To say that we had one of our best races is absolutely the truth, but we also know what’s next (the NCAA Championships) and we hope to put it together one more time.”

Pietrzyk, Valentine, Carlos, Barron and Tsai all earned All-Region honors for the Commodores, who will travel to Louisville, Ky., for the NCAA Championships.

“This was our fifth year in a row qualifying (for nationals), so now let’s finish the deal when we get there,” said Keith. “I think the blend of youth and experience that we have on the team shouldfair pretty well next week.”

Check back throughout the week for follow-up coverage of Vanderbilt’s second straight South Region title.

2 – Pietrzyk, Caroline, 20:11.53
8 – Valentine, Vanessa, 20:31.51
12 – Carlos, Carmen, 20:36.73
22 – Barron, Sara, 20:56.63
24 – Tsai, Sara, 21:00.72
(28) – Criscione, Maddie, 21:11.69
(58) – Anderson, Reagan, 21:42.54

1. Vanderbilt – 65
2. Miss. State – 78
3. Alabama – 135
4. Florida State – 139
5. Auburn – 186
6. MTSU – 201
7. Ole Miss – 205
8. Lipscomb – 206
9. Florida – 256
10. Georgia – 364