Commodores run strong at Belmont Opener


Sept. 5, 2015

By David Dawson

NASHVILLE – Based on what happened Saturday morning, it appears the future is now for the Vanderbilt cross country programs.

Competing in the first meet of the season, the Commodores were led by freshmen in both the women’s and men’s races at the Belmont Opener on a hot and sticky day at Percy Warner Park.

Caroline Pietrzyk paced the No. 22-ranked Vanderbilt women by taking second place overall at 17:24.3, finishing just seventh-tenth of a second behind Belmont’s Hannah Wittman, who posted a winning time of 17:23.6. For the Vanderbilt men, freshman Jason Vincze took 19th overall with a time of 16:06.8 to lead the Commodores.

Vanderbilt head coach Steve Keith and associate head coach Rhonda Riley were pleased with the performances of the two VU squads, and were excited about the immediate contributions of the freshman. Check back later for interviews with the two Vanderbilt coaches.

The Vanderbilt women — who are ranked No. 1 in the South Region and are coming off a season in which they captured their first-ever region title and advanced to the NCAA Championships for the fourth straight season — finished second among the Division-I schools Saturday with 44 points. Lipscomb captured the team title with 32 points. Host Belmont was third with 82 points, and was followed by Chattanooga (93), UAB (131) and Tennessee State (172).

Vanderbilt, which did not run all the members of the roster, had three runners among the Top 12. In addition to Pietrzyk’s second-place finish, Vanessa Valentine was 11th at 18:00.0 and Reagan Anderson was right behind her in 12th at 18:00.3. Lily Williams and Sara Barron finished 15th and 16th, respectively, at 18:13.5 and 18:14.3. Megan Huebner was 19th at 18:28.6.

Three Vanderbilt freshmen earned spots among the upper-third of the 90-member field, with Devon Grisbaum taking 20th at 18:32.1, Ginger Hutton finishing 23rd at 18.47.7 and Rebecca Jacobson taking 27th at 18:59.5.

On the men’s side, Vanderbilt finished fourth with 98 points. MTSU took first with 40 points, Lipscomb was second with 57 and Belmont was third with 85.

With his 19th-place finish, Vincze was one of three VU runners in the Top-25. He was joined by teammates Jake Van Geffen, who took 21st at 16:09.5, and Nikolaos Gkotsis, who took 22nd at 16:09.7.

Nick French was 26th at 16:12.7, Evan Suzman was 38th at 16:27.1, Caleb Casolaro was 47th at 16:39.3, Sam Reilly was 49th at 16:42.8, Daniel Arthur finished 53rd at 16:49.8, Sam DeFabrizio was 60th at 17:00.2 and Waqqas Fazili was 76th at 17:31.5.

Both of the VU squads are off next Saturday before returning to Percy Warner on Sept. 19 to host the annual Commodore Classic.

(2) Caroline Pietrzyk 17:24.3
(11) Vanessa Valentine 18:00.0
(12) Reagan Anderson 18:00.3
(15) Lily Williams 18:13.5
(16) Sara Barron 18:14.3
(19) Megan Huebner 18:28.6
(20) Devon Grisbaum 18:32.1
(23) Ginger Hutton 18:47.7
(27) Rebecca Jacobson 18:59.5

Lipscomb – 32
Vanderbilt – 44
Belmont – 82
Chattanooga – 93
UAB – 131
Tennessee State — 172
Lindsay Wilson — 28
Spalding — 37
Campbellsville – 55

(19) Jason Vincze 16:06.8
(21) Jake Van Geffen 16:09.5
(22) Nikolaos Gkotsis 16:09.7
(26) Nick French 16:12.7
(38) Evan Suzman 16:27.1
(47) Caleb Casolaro 16:39.3
(49) Sam Reilly 16:42.8
(53) Daniel Arthur 16:49.8
(60) Sam DeFabrizio 17:00.2
(76) Waqqas Fazili 17:31.5

MTSU – 40
Lipscomb – 57
Belmont – 65
Vanderbilt – 98
Western Kentucky – 120
Chattanooga – 139
Tennessee State – 199
Nashville Harriers – 30
Cambellsville – 45
Spalding – 69
Lindsay Wilson – 86

KEITH:YouTube l RILEY: YouTube