AUBURN, Ala. – Sparked by season leader Sara Tsai and a trio of improving freshmen, the Commodores earned a sixth-place finish at the Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championships, staged Friday near Auburn University.
The Commodores combined for 181 team points and missed a top-five result by 32 points. The effort marked a three-place improvement over the Commodores’ finish at the 2017 SEC Championship.
Tsai, a redshirt junior from Eugene, Ore., just missed All-SEC honors for the second time in her Vanderbilt career. She finished 15th overall with a time in the 6-kilometer distance of 19:52.4.
Haley Walker, from Ontario, Canada, earned SEC All-Freshman honors as the sixth-fastest first-year runner in the field. Walker finished 26th overall with a time of 20:16.6.
Others adding points for the Commodores were freshman Alena Sapienza-Wright, junior Caroline Pietrzyk and freshman Grace Jensen.
Head coach Steve Keith was pleased with the Commodores’ one-year team improvement at the meet, as well as several Vanderbilt individual efforts.
“It was definitely a nice team improvement over last year,” Keith said. “I thought we ran just about where we expected. I was hoping for a top-five result but you have to give credit to the teams that finished just ahead of us.
“Even though I’m disappointed for Sara because she missed All-SEC (recognition) by one place, it was super to see her come back like she did after being out for a year. And I’m really happy for Haley, who ran well to make the All-SEC freshman team,” Keith added.
1. Arkansas 24. 2. Florida. 69. 3. Ole Miss 116. 4. Georgia 144. 5. Missouri 149. 6. Vanderbilt 181. 7. Tennessee 197. T-8. Kentucky 242. T-8. Alabama 242. 10. Texas A&M 260. 11. LSU 275. 12. Mississippi State 277. 13. South Carolina 333. 14. Auburn 349.
Vanderbilt Individual Results
15. Sara Tsai 19:52.4
26. Haley Walker 20:16.6
44. Alena Sapienza-Wright 20:35.2
47. Caroline Pietrzyk 20:38.2
51. Grace Jensen 20:44.2
59. Anna Grace Morgan 20:56.2
60. Devon Grisbaum 20:57.0