NASVHILLE, Tenn. -- After a highly successful opening weekend of the 2017 cross country season, the Belmont men's and women's teams will look to build on that positivity at Saturday's Commodore Classic.
The Vanderbilt-hosted event brings the Bruins back to Percy Warner Park in Nashville for a second straight meet, this time with an elevated level of competition. The men start things off at 9 a.m. on the 8K course with the women to follow at 10 a.m. running the 5K.
The women's field features 17 teams, including eight regionally ranked programs, while the men's race will see 14 teams, another eight of which are regionally ranked. Among those is the No. 14 nationally ranked Missouri women and the No. 19 Middle Tennessee State men.
It will make for a good opportunity for the Bruins to measure themselves against some of the region's best competition, veteran head coach Jeff Langdon said.
The Belmont men are coming off a win at their home Belmont Opener two weeks ago at Percy Warner Park, a performance highlighted by individual medalist Matt Edwards. Five Bruins finished in the top eight there.
"We got to see a couple of surprises of how easy some of the guys looked running as a pack," Langdon said about his squad. "I think this week we've got a little game plan where we're not going to have a huge pack but a couple different packs."
It's a similar approach for Langdon's women, the coach said. His top six were within eight seconds of each other at the Opener finish line in Belmont's third-place team performance. Kortney Schardt was the top finisher in 12th.
"We had a really nice pack at the Belmont Opener which really helped our 3-4-5 girls, but we had a few girls that held back I think," Langdon said. "What's going to help us be successful at the end of the year isn't so much going to be our top one or two girls, but that 3-4-5."
Betty Wiseman Reflections - 50th Anniversary Women in Sport
50 YEARS AND COUNTING
Belmont University is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Women in Sports during the 2017-18 academic year, and Saturday's race is the first event in a yearlong schedule of commemoration. Female athletes from each campus sport will be in attendance in specialized 50th Anniversary of Women's Sports shirts to support the cross country team. For more information see www.belmontbruins.com/50th.
LAST TIME OUT
The Belmont men finished first at the Belmont Opener on Sept. 2, also at Percy Warner Park. Bruin senior Matt Edwards won the 5K race in 15:25.35 with Luke Evans (15:33.36) taking fourth, Ben Weisel (15:36.07) sixth, Anthony Didion (15:36.79) seventh and Kaden Eaton (15:37.68) eighth.
The Belmont women were third at the same 5K race, led by 12th-place finisher Kortney Schardt in 18:41.85. Kiera Weems (18:45.51) was next in 13th followed by Claire Cheeseman (18:45.62) in 14th, Lauren Denemark (18:48.33) 15th and Ali White (18:49.04) 16th.
Both the men's and women's races feature a top-20 team power based on this week's USTFCCCA National Coaches' Poll. The 14th-ranked Missouri women are coming off a 16th-place finish at last year's NCAA Championships while the No. 19 Middle Tennessee State men, who won the Brooks Twilight Classic in Memphis two weeks ago, are up after a 28th-place finish at last season's national meet.
Men (8K) – 23:29.95, Henry Lelei, sr., Texas A&M (2012)
Women (5K) – 16:43.3, Erin Finn, jr., Michigan (2015)
MEN'S FIELD (Region rank)
Belmont (12 South)
Butler (6, Great Lakes)
Lipscomb (13, South)
Marshall (14 Mid-Atlantic)
Miami (Ohio) (9, Great lakes)
Middle Tennessee St. (1, South)
Missouri (10, Midwest)
Ohio St. (10, Great Lakes)
WOMEN'S FIELD (Region rank)
Belmont (13, South)
Butler (9, Great Lakes)
Eastern Michigan (7, Great Lakes)
Lipscomb (7, South)
Miami (Ohio) (12, Great Lakes)
Middle Tennesse St.
Missouri (1, Midwest)
Ohio St. (6, Great Lakes)
Vanderbilt (3, South)