2017 FloXC Countdown: #24 Vanderbilt Women

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Follow our 2017 FloXC Countdown, where we rank the pre-season top 25 cross country teams and individuals heading into the NCAA season which will be LIVE on FloTrack. The No. 24 women's spot goes to Vanderbilt, and here's why:

Probable Top Four:

JR Sara Tsai (2:13 800; 4:46 Mile; 57th at '16 NCAA XC)
SO Caroline Pietrzyk (9:32 3K; 16:37 5K; 32nd at '15 NCAA XC)
SR Maddie Criscione (2:09 800; 4:30 1500; 23rd at '16 NCAA South XC)
JR Ginger Hutton (2:11 800; 4:29 1500; 51st at '16 NCAA South XC)

Fifth Woman Battle:

SR Megan Hueber (16:39 5K; 73rd at '16 NCAA South XC)
SO Mailin Struck (36:28 10K; 16:59 5K; 69th at '16 NCAA South XC)
SO Reagan Bustamante (2:07 800; 4:27 1500; 75th at '16 SEC XC)

Impact Freshmen/Transfers:

Anna Grace Morgan via Mountain Brook, AL (4:59 1600; 10:58 3200; 17:46 5K XC)
Emily Cohen via Canada (2:07 800; 4:21 1500; Canadian National Youth Team Member)
Gillian Mortimer via Southlake, TX (5:02 1600; 10:41 3200; 17:32 5K XC)

Analysis:

The Vanderbilt squad didn't make it to the NCAA Cross Country Championships as a team last year, but Sarah Tsai did compete as an individual and nearly earned an All-American finish. She finished 57th in Terre Haute, and prior to the championship earned a sixth-place finish in the NCAA South Region. She hasn't raced yet this year, but Tsai should return as the team leader in 2017.

The return of All-American Caroline Pietrzyk will also make a big difference in this team's attempt to make it to the NCAA championships. As a freshman in 2015, she finished 32nd at the championships and notched personal bests of 9:32 in the 3K and 16:37 in the 5K.

The Vanderbilt squad also gets a number of high-impact freshmen this year, notably Anna Grace Morgan, Emily Cohen, and Gillian Mortimer. Morgan holds a 5K personal best of 17:56, Cohen has run 4:21 for 1500m and recently competed on the Canadian youth national team, and Mortimer holds impressive personal bests of 10:49 for 3200m and 17:32 for 5K.

With the addition of a star freshman class and a more experienced returning squad, the Vanderbilt women are ready to return to the NCAA Cross Country Championships as a full team.

FULL WOMEN'S RANKINGS HERE

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