Cross Country: Commodores Soar at Belmont Opener

With the women earning gold and the men silver, Vanderbilt hit the ground running in the 2022 season.


Claire Gatlin

Vanderbilt competed at the Belmont Opener from September 2-4, 2022 (Hustler Multimedia/Claire Gatlin).

Jonah Barbin, Staff Writer

The Commodore cross country season began this weekend at Percy Warner Park, as Vanderbilt competed in the Belmont Opener alongside Alabama A&M, Austin Peay, Belmont, Dalton State, Lipscomb, Murray State and Tennessee State. 

The Commodores had to be happy with their first performance as they left the park: The women finished first overall, and the men weren’t far off, finishing second behind Belmont.

The women were led by senior Niki Narayani, who finished first overall in the five-kilometer race in a blazing 18 minutes, 00.88 seconds. Sophomore Ella Lambert didn’t finish far behind at 18:07.59, good for second overall. The combination of Narayani and Lambert racked up 24 points for the Commodores. Narayani and Lambert were by no means the only Commodores who had a fantastic day. In fact, every Vanderbilt woman finished the race in under 19 minutes, with Caroline Eck at 18:34.85, Julia Rosenberg at 18:38.01, Cameron Fawcett at 18:39.68, Jenna Holland at 18:45.55 and Lainey Phillips at 18:54.38. 

The men’s second overall finish was made possible by the performance of freshman Michael Schumacher, a four-time All-Conference selection and two-time cross country regional champion in high school. Schumacher posted a time of 15:44.61, finishing eighth overall and amassing the majority of the 50 Commodore points. Finishing soon after Schumacher was the quartet of Phillip Metcalf (15:49.37), Zach Hodges (15:59.38), David Song (15:59.48) and Brody Haar (16:01.34).

Led by second-year director of cross country and track and field Althea Thomas and distance coach Michael Porter, a Commodore squad that is full of young talent undoubtedly got the season started off on the right foot. According to a preseason poll by U.S. Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association, the Vanderbilt women are ranked No. 6 in the South Region, while the men rank No. 12. Notably the men finished ahead of Lipscomb, ranked sixth in the same poll. 

For both the men and women, the results of the Belmont Opener are a cause for great excitement about the season ahead and the direction of the program overall. 

The Commodores will head to Indiana University Bloomington next to compete in the Coaching Tree Invitational on Sept. 16.