Thursday, August 1, 2013

NCAA XC Top 31 Countdown: Women's #22- Vanderbilt

Editor's note: For the next month, The Wood Report will be counting down projected team finishes in this year's NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, IN.

Head Coach: Steve Keith (8th Season)
2012 National Finish- 27th

Key Returners from 2012
  • Hannah Jumper (So..,4:24 1500m, 9:40 Open 3k, 17:14 5k)
  • Liz Anderson (Sr., 9:24 Open 3k, 16:19 5k, 33:51 10k)
  • Amira Joseph (So., 9:54 Open 3k, 17:13 5k, 10:43 3k Steeple)] 
  • Grace Orders (Jr., 9:46 Open 3k, 16:48 5k, 34:48 10k) 
  • Sara Barron (So., 4:20 1500m)
Impact Recruits/Transfers
  • Carmen Carlos (Fr.,4:48 1600m, 10:15 3200m, 12th at FL Finals)
  • Reagan Anderson (Fr., 4:42 1600m, 10:40 3200m, 4 X NXN Qualifier: 23rd '11 )
  • Courtney Kriegshauser (Fr., 4:49 1600m, 17:08 5k, 10:39 3200m, 3 X NXN Qualifier)
  • Lily Anderson (Redshirt Frosh., 4:22 1500m, 9:45 Open 3k, FL Finalist)
Season Preview

If Coach Steve Keith was not set up enough for a great 2013 season with all of the quality women he brings back, he definitely sealed the deal by signing the best recruiting class in Vanderbilt history. After going to NCAAs back-to-back years the 'Dores will be back again, and here is why.

Hannah Jumper, the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2012 is returning with a year of experience under her belt. Jumper had a good track season following up a great cross season with nice runs of 4:24 for 1500m and 9:40 in the open 3k. Some athletes are just better in cross than they are on the track, and Jumper seems to fit that definition to a "t." Her ability to run well when it counts and one year past being a rookie, she is ready to lead this team as the low-stick for Vandy in 2013. 

If anyone is to challenge her upfront for the no. 1 spot it is going to be Liz Anderson. Anderson is a very good track girl who had a breakout outdoor season with PRs of 16:19 in the 5k (10 second PR) and 33:51 in the 10k which helped her make NCAAs where she placed 14th overall at the same distance. If Anderson can carry her strong momentum from track and translate her ability running in circles to running even faster on the grass (she is already a good xc runner) she will make this team even better than they already are going to be and will push Jumper up front. 

The Commodores also return important veteran athletes such as: Amira Joseph, Grace Orders and Sara Barron, who are all capable of running in Vandy's top five on any given race. 

To go along with an already very good team on paper returning from 2012, Vanderbilt has brought in one of the best recruiting classes in the country. Carmen Carlos is a very good track girl who is also has some good range with PRs of 4:48 and 10:15. Carlos was 12th at the Foot Locker finals (and every coach wants to say they signed someone who placed well at that meet). 

Reagan Anderson was a part of one of the best high school teams in the country year after year from Delaware (Wilmington). Anderson qualified for NXN Nationals with her team all four of her high school years. This kind of high level experience will benefit her greatly as she makes the switch from good high school teams to good college teams. She also boasts top notch track PRs: 4:42 1500m and 10:40 3200m. Anderson is the kind of girl that can step up and run with the front pack off the bat and could find her self in the no.3-4 spot by the end of the season. 

This could stop right here and one would be impressed with how good this class is, but it just keeps going. Courtney Kriegshauser of Southlake Carroll, Texas is another girl who has had very quality high school cross country running experience and this will bulk up the already deep Commodore squad. Kriegshauser, like Anderson, has been a member of one of the perennial powers in the country and along with her ability to race well on the track will make her even that much more valuable. 

An athlete that ran track for Vandy, but redshirted cross is Lily Williams. Lily is coming off of an amazing freshman year of track where she ran very good PRs of 4:22 1500m and 9:45 for the open 3k. With her also being a Footlocker Finalist (Vanderbilt does not have enough of them) she also has experience running xc at a high level and is just one more girl to throw in the mix of a possible to five. 

Is there anymore that needs to be said? The only question mark lies in the newcomer learning curve. If these freshman can step up right off the bat and contribute, this #22 ranking is way to low and appalling to be honest. The biggest thing is though, is that these girls need to actually prove it in a race that they can run at this level. Once they do this is a top 10 team. The South Region teams better keep an eye out on Vanderbilt, because they are for real. 

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