Commodores open cross country slate at Belmont Opener

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Vanderbilt cross country teams will open the 2018 season on Friday at the Belmont Opener at Percy Warner Park. The Dores will be part of a local collegiate field for the 5K race. 
Setting the Stage
Event: Belmont Opener
Date: Friday, Aug. 31
Host: Belmont University
Site: Percy Warner Park
Start Times: Women’s 5K: 5 p.m. l Men’s 5K: 5:30 p.m.
Directions to the course: HERE
Results/Live Timing: TBA
Let’s Get It Started
Friday’s opener marks the 14th consecutive year the Commodores have opened the season at the Belmont Opener. The Commodores co-hosted the event with Belmont from 2005-11. The Commodores have done well at the event, placing in the top 10 each year.  The Vanderbilt women have also claimed the event title seven times and are looking to make it a three-peat on Friday. 
From the Coach
Head Coach Steve Keith
On preseason camp and preparing … 
“We have nine newcomers out of our total of 30 so that’s significant. These first two meets are different squads and running just new guys on the men’s side with minimal squad size. We’ll run a little more at the SEC Preview at Auburn and then be back full squad for the Commodore Classic. We have not usually had the middle meet but since it was an SEC Preview, I thought it would be important for the team and maybe catch their attention and we can refer back to it. I think it will be really valuable. 
On the depth of the team… 
“Last year, it was kind of unknown that we wouldn’t have Caroline and Sara and this year we have them 100 percent … the leadership on the course is absolutely there. WE have a couple of freshman that came in banged up but that’s typical. We’ll have a little more quality depth than we had last year and we look forward to that. The men’s team will probably be the best team I’ve had since we’ve been here by far. 
On Stanford graduate transfer Patrick Perrier … 
“He was a highly recruited kid in high school and he’s run 3:45 just over 4:00 for the mile. The biggest thing for him in law school is sleep. He’s enjoying himself and that was the whole idea. For him to be a part of it but not to have all the pressure in the world on you and he can still contribute as he can to the team.” 
On the mix of depth of newcomers and returners … 
“The guys have matured and the juniors and seniors are pretty significant contributors plus Patrick who’s a fifth year. The freshman coming in have fit in well but like any freshmen class you want to see them contribute as they can but not that they have to be the immediate contributors. It’s also like that on the women’s side. 
On the schedule … 
“The first one is fun and it’s great to get the rust off and the newcomers will have to rely on themselves but we’ll have more of a full squad at the Auburn meet. That meet will be a focus since we’ll have some good teams coming in.” 
In The Rankings
The Commodores were featured in several preseason rankings. The Vanderbilt women were picked No. 5 in the SEC preseason poll, the same spot they were picked in the 2017 preseason poll, while the men checked in at No. 11. In the USTFCCCA preseason poll, the women earned a No. 8 ranking in the South Region and received votes in the national preseason poll. [ Release
Scheduled to Run
A total of 10 Vanderbilt runners will compete this weekend. A list of all runners competing is listed below:
Alena Sapienza-Wright, Emily Cohen, Grace Jensen, Kacie Breeding, Anna Grace Morgan
Lucas Mowery, Matthew Estopinal, Patrick Perrier, Nicholas Laning, Harrison Thomas
Patrick Perrier … From Stanford to West End 
The men’s team welcomes graduate transfer Patrick Perrier from Stanford to West End this season. Perrier spent four years at Stanford and was a regular contributor to the team. He’s an outdoor track Pack-12 All-Academic second team member who has a degree in energy resources engineering and is attending Vanderbilt Law School. The Dores have a pipeline from Stanford and probably none more important than Commodore football coach, Derek Mason
Young Guns
The Commodores have increased their depth exponentially this season as seven of the 10 Commodores running this weekend are newcomers. The entire men’s contingent with the exception of Harrison Thomas is new to the Commodore squad while the women’s team has two freshmen running in Alena Sapienza-Wright and Grace Jensen but sophomore Emily Cohen will make her Commodore debut as she didn’t race during the 2017 cross country season. 
A Look at the 2018 Schedule
Friday’s opener is the first of five regular-season meets for the Commodores this season. Following the Belmont Opener, Vanderbilt will travel to Auburn for the SEC Preview meet (Sept. 7) before hosting the Commodore Classic on Sept. 15. The Dores will take a week off before the squad’s split with the women traveling to the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational (Sept. 28) and men traveling to the Louisville Classic (Sept. 29).  The team’s will reunite at the Barrios Arturo Invitational in College Station, Texas on Oct. 13 before opening championship season on Oct. 26 at the SEC Championships in Auburn. NCAA Regionals will be held in Tallahassee on Nov. 9 and the NCAA Championship will be Nov. 17 in Madison, Wisconsin.  
Flashback to 2017 Belmont Opener
The Commodores both had good showings at the 2017 Belmont Opener. The women picked up their second consecutive Belmont Opener title while the men placed third. Maddie Criscione paced the women’s team with a third-place finish while Jason Vincze was the top runner on the men’s side with an 11th-place finish. 
Follow The Commodores on Social Media
For all the latest information on the Vanderbilt cross country teams give them a follow on Twitter at @vandyxctrack.