Oct. 29, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After a very successful start to the season, the Vanderbilt cross country teams head to Columbia, S.C. this weekend for the Southeastern Conference cross country championships. The meet will take place Monday, Nov. 1 at Hilton Field at Fort Jackson. The women’s 6K race begins at 9 a.m. CT while the men follow at 10 a.m. CT.
“We are heading in to this meet with a certain amount of focus, confidence and excitement,” said head coach Steve Keith about the women’s team. “We’ve had a goal of top three (at the championship meet) since the start of the season.”
The women are in the midst of one of their best seasons ever, achieving goals they have set for each meet and being the highest ranked Vanderbilt team in history. In the most recent USTFCCCA regional pole, the Commodores stand second in the south region, ahead of SEC opponents Florida and Georgia.
The women’s team will try to make history yet again this season, as Vanderbilt has never finished higher than fourth at the SEC Championship meet, and that came in 1997.
“We want to try to pack in our top five runners, try to have them within 20 seconds of each other,” said Keith. “The top 14 runners are named all-conference, and that is always an objective for our girls.”
Rita Jorgensen, Jordan White and Alexa Rogers have paced the Commodores this season. The trio has finished as the top three Vanderbilt runners in each race they have competed in this season. Freshman Kara Slavoski and Liz Anderson have made an immediate impact this season and will look to land a spot on the all-freshman team.
“The key for our women to have a good individual race is to focus on the team,” said Keith. “Out of a good team race will come good individual races.”
In the men’s race, Vanderbilt will continue to focus on grouping together and having the top runners finish as close to each other as possible. Last year, Jenner Kizer finished 45th with a time of 26:42, and Keith thinks that several Commodores can keep that pace this year.
“The guys haven’t quite shown in their races where their fitness it, but this course will allow them to get out and try to keep their group together,” said Keith.
“The SEC Championship is a huge meet for our team. This is a way to represent Vanderbilt and our program,” noted Keith.