The Vanderbilt women’s cross country team ran away with its first Southeastern Conference championship during October in Maryville, Tenn. Five Commodores finished in the top nine for a total of 30 points, far ahead of second-place Arkansas. It was the first time since 1989 that a school other than Arkansas, Florida or Tennessee had won the title.
“We always said we had to get over the hump,” reflects head coach Steve Keith, “and we believed we could this year. To get our first win with such a performance was very impressive.”
Senior Alexa Rogers finished second, sophomore Liz Anderson finished fourth, and junior Jordan White, senior Louise Hannallah and junior Kristen Smith finished seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively. Rogers, Anderson and White were named to the All-SEC first team, and Hannallah and Smith made the second team. Grace Orders, Rebecca Chandler and Amira Joseph finished in the top 30, earning All-SEC freshman honors.
The SEC victory propelled the Commodores to the NCAA championships for the first time in school history. The runners exceeded Keith’s hopes for a top-10 finish by placing sixth in a 31-team field. Once again Rogers led the way, finishing 39th overall, and established another Vanderbilt first when she received All-American honors. “Alexa Rogers is our first All-American, and Liz Anderson missed by maybe just a second and a couple of places,” Keith says.
Along the way, Keith was named SEC Cross Country Coach of the Year. Keith, BA’81, is in his sixth year as head coach. “It’s a nice honor,” he says. “I believe 100 percent that these women can achieve whatever they set their minds to.”
© 2014 Vanderbilt University | Photography: CHERYL TREWORGY
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