NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Fifth-year senior McKenzie Yanek and senior Matthew Estopinal each finished second at the Commodore Classic as the Vanderbilt women’s cross country team finished second and the men placed fifth Friday morning at Percy Warner Park.
“The mindset was very very positive,” director of cross country and track and field Althea Thomas told The Vanderbilt Hustler after the Commodores welcomed 10 teams to their home course and earned three individual medals, five top-10 finishes and a pair of top-five team showings. “They came in just optimistic and ready to kind of let loose.”
In the 5-kilometer race, the Vanderbilt women accumulated just 41 points behind Yanek’s runner-up finish of 17:07.4 and senior Grace Jensen, who earned the bronze at 17:10.4. Senior Haley Walker was also in the top 10 with a ninth-place finish (17:34.5), while Cameron Fawcett (17:41.5) clinched four of the top 11 spots for the Commodores.
Vanderbilt beat SEC rival Missouri which finished third with 87 points. The Tigers had finished ahead of the Commodores at the season opener in Columbia, Missouri, two weeks ago. Vanderbilt also topped Middle Tennessee State (96), which was one spot ahead of the Commodores in the USTFCCCA regional rankings.
“On the ladies side, it was great,” Thomas added. “McKenzie (Yanek) from the front, Grace running very consistent and Haley Walker sprinting at the end like she was on the track in the 1500—that was just exciting. You can tell that they were very comfortable. I think as we go back to other away meets, you’re going to see that same confidence.”
Freshman Ella Lambert also scored for the Commodores with a 16th-place finish (17:50.2), followed closely by fifth-year senior Gillian Mortimer in 17th (17:50.4) and sophomore Lainey Phelps in 18th (17:52.1).
In the 8k race, the Vanderbilt men finished with 110 points. Estopinal was just five seconds behind the winner with a time of 24:46.7, while senior Nick Laning was also in the top 10 with an eighth-place showing of 24:56.4.
“All the guys executed, showing some grit when it got a little tough at the end of the 8k, but I think we’re pretty pleased with how they competed,” Thomas said. “They pushed themselves to the limit that they had today and it’s only going to go up from here.”
Fifth-year senior Caleb Van Geffen was 28th overall (25:45.9), followed by freshman Philip Metcalf (36th, 25:59.1) and senior Jonah Bird (44th, 26:09.2) to round out the scoring for the Commodores. Freshman Zach Hodges was 50th (26:18.0) and sophomore Mathew Ragsdale was 78th (29:00.6).
Vanderbilt will return to action at Notre Dame’s Joe Piane Invitational on Oct. 1.
Be sure to follow Vanderbilt cross country and track and field programs on all social media platforms @vandyxctrack.