NASHVILLE – The Vanderbilt women’s cross country team ran a complete race in the 15th annual Commodore Classic and were rewarded with a third-place finish in the 21-team women’s field on Saturday at Percy Warner Park.
The women finished behind Ohio State and Illinois out of the Big Ten. The men’s team finished 10th out of 18 teams.
“The women’s race was hot, and when the winning team doesn’t break 100 points, there’s a lot of parity out there,” head coach Steve Keith said. “We were third, but we’ve got a lot to build off of and a lot to work on too.”
Sara Tsai paced the women’s team in the 5K and turned in a top-15 finish to come in 11th place with a mark of 17:48:0. Three other Commodores poured in top-50 finishes in Caroline Pietryzyk (18:13.1), Alena Sapienza-Wright (18:36.4) and Haley Walker (18:24.3).
“I think that we acknowledged that the conditions were affecting everyone,” assistant coach Rebekah Smeltzer said. “We talked about that in order to be successful, we have to approach the difficult portions of the course doing the next thing and bringing your teammates along.
“I always tell them that racing is a habit, and making decisions needs to become a habit, and if you do it often enough then good things are going to happen.”
The men’s team was paced by Nick Laning’s top-20 finish (25:36.8) in the 8K. The freshman was the only Commodore to finish in the top 50.
“The young guys really contributed and helped out,” Steve Keith said. “We were only a couple of points away from a couple of more places, but a top 10 was good in this field and they’ve got a lot to build on.”
He was followed by Aidan Livingston (27:02.9), Evan Suzman (27:18.8), Harrison Thomas (26:40.3) and Jason Vincze (26:38.2). The men have now posted in the top 10 nine times at the Commodore Classic.
“The guys did a better job of finding each other and running as a pack, especially early,” Smetlzer said. “The challenge moving forward is that when we get to the later portions of the race, we’re still able to maintain those packs. But, it was great to see Nick, a freshman, immersing himself up front in his first 8K, and then even seeing someone like Jason, a veteran, slowly being patient and building momentum. It was a promising start for a full squad effort.”
Up next, The Commodore men will take part in the Louisville Classic on Saturday, September 29, while the women will compete in the Adidas Wisconsin Nuttycombe Invitational in Madison, Wis.
1. Eastern Kentucky – 20
2. Louisville – 85
3. Belmont – 95
4. Tenn. Tech – 98
5. Lipscomb – 144
10. Vanderbilt – 250
20. Nick Laning (25:36.8
53. Jason Vincze (26:38.2)
55. Harrison Thomas (26:40.3)
75. Aidan Livingston (27:02.9)
86. Evan Suzman (27:18.8)
91. Matthew Estopinal (27:23.4)
96. Lucas Mowery (27:33.1)
98. Caleb Van Geffen (27:37.8)
102. Caleb Casolaro (27:47.3)
123. Edward Harpstead (29:12.7)
1. Ohio State – 105
2. Illinois – 126
3. Vanderbilt – 133
4. Lipscomb – 142
5. Xavier – 146
11. Sara Tsai (17:48.0)
26. Caroline Pietrzyk (18:13.1)
32. Haley Walker (18:24.3)
35. Grace Jensen (18:27.5)
46. Alena Sapienza-Wright (18:36.4)
63. Mailin Struck (18:46.6)
64. Anna Grace Morgan (18:46.6)
73. Kendall Derry (18:57.5)
77. Kacie Breeding (19:04.6)
93. Devon Grisbaum (19:23.1)
99. Reagan Bustamante (19:26.4)
152. Gillian Mortimer (20:32.8)