Commodores claim runner-up finish at Belmont Opener

NASHVILLE, Tenn.– The Commodores kicked off the 2018 season at the Belmont Opener at Percy Warner Park on Friday. The Vanderbilt teams took runner-up honors on both sides, with the women scoring 32 points and the men scoring 69 points.

The women, who were seeking their third straight Belmont Opener title, were paced by freshman Alena Sapienza-Wright who crossed the finish line with a time of 18:22.80, which was good enough for a second-place finish. Next was classmate, Grace Jensen with a time of 18:34.66. Anna Grace Morgan (18:51.18), Kacie Breeding (19:13.76) and Emily Cohen (20:33.54) rounded out the Vanderbilt scoring. In total, of Vanderbilt’s five runners, three finished in the top 5 and everyone placed in the top 20. 

The race was fairly tight on the women’s side with just four points separating winner Belmont and the second place Commodores. 

Head coach Steve Keith was pleased with what he saw from his freshmen runners. 

“We had good races at the front by our freshmen for both men and women. Nick (Laning) and Matthew (Estopinal) and Alena (Sapienza-Wright) and Grace (Jensen) ran strong,” said Keith. “It was nice to have all of our new runners put on the singlet and represent.” 

In the men’s race, freshman Nicholas Laning was the first Commodore to cross the finish line with a time of 15:32.82, scoring five points for towards the team score. Classmate Matthew Estopinal crossed with a time of 16:14. 01 while newcomers Patrick Perrier (16:44.80) and Lucas Mowery (16:57.61). Sophomore Harrison Thomas also raced and finished with a time of 16:22.23. 

Paced by Laning’s fifth-place finish, the men had three finish in the top 20 and the entire squad placed in the top 25. 

Similar to today’s race with a smaller squad size and partial team, the Commodores will do the same for next week’s SEC Preview. Keith commented on that at the end of the race. 

“Partial squads this weekend and next will put us all back together in two weeks at our annual home event, the Commodore Classic.”

Up Next for the Commodores
The Commodore men and women travel to Auburn, Ala., on Friday, Sept. 7 for the SEC Preview. The race will be hosted by Auburn and will give the Commodores to see the course for the 2018 SEC Championships on Oct. 26. 

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. 
Belmont Opener Results
Vanderbilt Runners
  2. Alena Sapienza-Wright      18:22.80
  3. Grace Jensen                    18:34.66
  5. Anna Grace Morgan          18:51.18
  8. Kacie Breeding                  19:13.76
18. Emily Cohen                      20:33.54
  5. Nicholas Laning                15:32.82
13. Matthew Estopinal            16:14.01
18. Harrison Thomas             16:22.23
22. Patrick Perrier                  16:44.80
24. Lucas Mowery                  16:57.61