Grand Opening

Vanderbilt takes first, second at Belmont Opener


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Vanderbilt cross country teams outlasted the heat in the season opener Friday evening with the women capturing the top spot while the men took second in the 5K from the Belmont Opener at Percy Warner Park.

The victory was the third in the past four seasons at the 10-team event for the women. The Commodores had five student-athletes notch top-10 finishers including Grace Jensen who took second (18:02) overall. Jensen was followed by teammate Caroline Pietrzyk in third (18:07) and Niki Narayani in fifth (18:12) among 90 runners.

“All in all, it was a real good effort,” head coach Steve Keith said. “The race wasn’t as intense as what we’ll have. We had a couple kids that hadn’t raced in a year or two, so it was nice to get them in the mix. We’ll add a couple more people a bit later.”

Vanderbilt’s Nick Laning posted a second-place result of 15:20, nearly catching Belmont’s Ben Naeger at the finish line to highlight action for the men. Teammate Harrison Thomas also impressed, securing eighth (15:52) among 84 participants.

“Nick picked up where he left off last spring,” Keith said. “Harrison had a nice first race as well. The guys had a solid effort. I told the team, we race in two-week cycles so the focus is what we do in the next two weeks to make us better.”

Elsewhere for the men, Jonah Bird took 19th (16:15), Caleb Van Geffen finished 21st (16:20) and Edward Harpstead brought home 43rd (17:19).

On the women’s side, Ana Wallace took sixth (18:30) followed by Gillian Mortimer in ninth (18:41), Lauren Moffett in 11th (18:49), Reagan Bustamante in 12th (18:55), Caroline Eck in 18th (19:21) and Alena Sapienza-Wright in 19th (19:23).

Vanderbilt returns home to host the Commodore Classic two weeks from Saturday. The event gets underway from Percy Warner Park at 8:30 a.m. with the men’s 8,000 meters. The women will follow at 9:15 a.m. with the 6,000 meters.