Ewing paces men at South Regional

Nov. 14, 2014


Friday’s Results | All-Time Championships

John Ewing took 46th place with a time of 31:39.50 as the Vanderbilt men’s cross country team earned a 19th-place finish at Friday’s NCAA South Region Championship.

Nick French was Vanderbilt’s next runner, finishing 94th at 32:29.70. Also representing Vanderbilt were: Sam Reilly (115th at 32:59.70), Jake Van Geffen (131st at 33:49.20), Andrew Bachman (139th at 34:12.80), Matthew Cleveland (144th at 34:31.20) and Andrew Fix (156th at 35:19.10).


The cross-country Commodores not only have a number attached to their name, but now they also have a label: Region Champions.

Placing three runners among the top-10 and five among the top-15, the No. 16-ranked Vanderbilt women won the NCAA South Region championship on Friday morning in Tallahassee, Fla. The Commodores finished with 53 points to nip second-place Florida State by one point.

It was Vanderbilt’s first region championship in the program’s history, and assured the Commodores of their fourth straight trip to the NCAA Championships, which will take place on Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Ind.

“It was fun to watch the girls celebrate,” said head coach Steve Keith. “They’ve worked really hard for the past 12-14 weeks, and it was great to see them come out and compete the way they did today.”

Senior Claire Benjamin was Vanderbilt’s top finisher, taking sixth place with a personal-best time of 19:53.50 while extending her postseason surge.

Benjamin, who joined the team as a walk-on during her freshman season, was Vanderbilt’s No. 2 finisher (and 13th overall) at the SEC Championships two weeks ago.

“Claire is an amazing individual,” said assistant coach Rhonda Riley. “She is just such a humble person, and to see her come out today and finish like she did is just awesome. She ran the race of her life.”

Vanderbilt’s Sara Barron (19:59.40) and Carmen Carlos (19:59.60) took ninth and 10th place, respectively, and Katherine Delaney (13th, 20:05.50) and Amira Joseph (14th, 20:15.10) completed the Commodores’ top-five. All five earned All-Region honors.

Vanderbilt, which has successfully used a group-running plan throughout the season, once again showed the power of the pack. The Commodores’ top five had an impressive spread of just 22 seconds, which enabled them to pull off the upset of traditional region power Florida State.

“The girls really ran a beautiful race,” said assistant coach Rhonda Riley. “The pack-running really came through today. And in a race where things were so tight, the fact that our girls finished so close together was the difference.”

Florida State’s Colleen Quigley won the race at 19:17.00. Tennessee’s Chelsea Blaase was second at 19:26.20 and Mississippi State’s Rhianwedd was third at 19:37.20.

For Vanderbilt, Rebecca Chandler took 31st at 20:37.50 and Vanessa Valentine was 41st at 20:44.60.

Almost immediately after the race ended, the Commodores begin to sense that they had captured the championship. Standing at the finish line, Keith was keeping track of the Vanderbilt runners and the FSU runners by writing the finishing order down on the palm of his hand.

“It’s an old-fashion SmartPhone,” he joked.

Soon, the results became official, and the Commodores had their first Region Championship. “The girls are just enjoying the moment,” said Riley. “We all are.”

6 Benjamin, Claire (SR) 19:53.50
9 Barron, Sara (JR) 19:59.40
10 Carlos, Carmen (SO) 19:59.60
13 Delaney, Katherine (JR) 20:05.50
14 Joseph, Amira (SR) 20:15.10
31 Chandler, Rebecca (SR) 20:37.50
41 Valentine, Vanessa (JR) 20:44.60

Head coach Steve Keith
On the team’s performance: “The girls came out really focused today, and ran five really strong races. And actually, our No. 6 and 7 runners ran really strong, too.”

On the pace of the race: “Florida State really took it out hard. But after that first mile, we got our legs underneath us, and that’s when we really made things happen.”

On the upcoming NCAA Championships: The challenge is to replicate (Friday’s performance) again. But it’s certainly nice to go into the championship meet with some positive momentum.”

Assistant coach Rhonda Riley
On the team’s executing the scheme: “This group truly believes in the pack. And today, every runner mattered.”

On the team’s ability to rise to each new challenge: “The girls have set high goals throughout the season, and they have worked very hard to achieve them. And they’ve set the bar high for nationals.”