NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Vanderbilt men’s and women’s cross country programs welcome 19 teams to Percy Warner Park for the 16th annual Commodore Classic on Saturday morning. The field features teams from the SEC and Big Ten among several local squads.
The men’s 8,000 meters gets underway at 8:30 a.m. followed by the women’s 6,000 meters at 9:15 a.m. The event will be the second of the early season at Percy Warner for the Commodores. The Vanderbilt women took the top spot and the men placed second at the Belmont Opener on Aug. 30.
“Both teams are excited to show their fitness,” Vanderbilt head coach Steve Keith said. “Even though we are still only four weeks into training I’m looking for some solid efforts and results. We’d like to focus on running in groups which will be challenging in such a large field but is critical for team success.”
The men’s field includes Auburn, Belmont, Georgia, High Point, Indiana, Kennesaw State, Lipscomb, Louisville, Missouri, Middle Tennessee, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Southern Miss, Tennessee Tech, Western Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Xavier.
The women’s field includes Auburn, Belmont, Georgia, High Point, Indiana, Kennesaw State, Lipscomb, Louisville, Mississippi State, Missouri, Middle Tennessee, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Santa Clara, Southern Miss, Tennessee Tech, UAB, Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky and Xavier.
In the Rankings
Four programs are ranked in the national coaches’ preseason poll, including Ole Miss, whose men are No. 14 and women are No. 15. The Indiana men are 15th while the women are receiving votes. Ohio State’s women are 26th. Middle Tennessee’s men’s unit is receiving votes as are the Georgia women.
The Commodore women are fifth in the south region after finishing sixth a season ago, while the men enter their second race in 14th. The squad finished 13th last year.
“This is probably the deepest field we have been able to assemble since I’ve been at Vanderbilt,” Keith said. “Every year we are able to attract some highly ranked regional and national level teams which is always a great early season test.”
A Look Back
The Vanderbilt women secured their third victory in the past four seasons at the 10-team Belmont Opener. The Commodores had five student-athletes notch top-10 finishers including Grace Jensen, who took second (18:02) overall.
The Commodore men finished runner-up thanks to a strong performance from Nick Laning who posted a second-place result in 15:20. Teammate Harrison Thomas also impressed, securing eighth (15:52) among 84 participants.
The Commodore women return to action Sept. 28 at the Buckeye Preview Meet in Columbus, Ohio. The 6,000-meter event gets underway at 9:45 a.m. The squad joins up with the men on Oct. 5 with both competing at the Greater Louisville Classic in Louisville, Kentucky.