COLUMBIA, Mo. – Junior Matthew Estopinal was the runner-up in the men’s race while junior Grace Jensen paced the women as both Vanderbilt cross country teams finished third on a chilly Saturday morning at the Gans Creek Classic.
“I’m real proud of both teams,” Vanderbilt head coach Steve Keith said. “This was a big step for the guys. They really went for it and it was a eight-point difference with 1,000 to go. It’s where we to be and where we should be.”
At the 5,000-meter mark of the men’s race, all three teams were within three points. And heading into the final 1,000 meters, Vanderbilt was within eight of the host Tigers.
But Missouri pulled away and won with 34 points. Texas A&M tallied 40 points and the Commodores finished with a score of 57.
On the women’s side, Vanderbilt and Missouri battled for second place and were within a single point at the 4,000-meter mark. But the Tigers earned the silver on their home course with 61 points to Vanderbilt’s 72. Arkansas won with 20 while Texas A&M finished with 93.
“The ladies grouped up a lot better from the opening race and that focused team running is good to see,” Keith said. “It was a real good team effort for them.”
In the men’s race, Estopinal and junior Nick Laning made up half of a four-man lead pack for the majority of the race. Missouri senior Kieran Wood set the course record at 23:54.5 while Estopinal and Laning, who finished third overall, each beat the previous course best with times of 24:05.6 and 24:09.
Van Geffen was the third Vanderbilt man to cross the finish line and placed 15th overall (15:13) while freshman Corey Pacernick (25:17.9) and junior Jonah Bird (25:20.9) also scored for the Dores and placed 20th and 22nd, respectively.
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt’s top-five women were all within 35 seconds of each other. Jensen was 14th with a time of 21:09 and was followed by freshman Lainey Phelps (21:28.9) who was 17th while Gillian Mortimer (21:31.6), Haley Walker (21:40.3) and Anna Grace Morgan (21:44.5) also scored with finishes of 18th, 22nd and 24th, respectively.
Vanderbilt has one regular season meet remaining before the SEC Championships on Oct. 30. The final tune up will be in Birmingham, Alabama, for the UAB Blazer Classic on Oct. 16.