16th ranked, 12-1 cross country team to host event
The University of Tennessee women, ranked 16th in the most recent FinishLynx/NCAA Division I Women’s Cross Country Poll, will play host to their only home meet of the 2005 campaign Friday evening, as they compete in the Tennessee Invitational at Lambert Acres Golf Club in Maryville.
The Lady Volunteers, who enter this weekend’s competition with a 12-1 record after finishing second in the 14-team Belmont Opener on Sept. 2, will face off against the University of Memphis in a 5,000-meter (5K) race at 5:15 p.m. Eastern Time at the scenic Blount County course. UT holds an 11-0 all-time series record vs. the Tigers after defeating UM two weeks ago in Nashville.
Tennessee Head Coach J.J. Clark, who is 291-91-1 in his fourth season in Knoxville, is pleased to get his team back in action and participating close to home.“It’s good to run at Lambert Acres, because it gives us a good measuring stick to see where we are at this point in the season,” Clark said. “It’s a good opportunity to continue our training this week and compete without having to travel. It also enables us to get tuned up for the bigger part of the schedule.”
In the season-opener, the Big Orange attack was paced by a pair of freshmen in Sarah Bowman and Knoxville native Leah Soro. The rookies impressively finished first and third out of 120 runners in their UT debuts, with times of 14:09.82 and 14:28.92 over the 4K course.
“They are using their cross country as a base for track,” Clark said. “They are having fun and seeing that they can do well in cross country, help the team and at the same time develop their skills for track. Right now, they are in a good position. We’re going to concentrate on staying healthy and focused.” Junior Katie Flaute was the third of Tennessee’s scoring five at Belmont, finishing eighth, while seniors Carly Matthews and Mindy Sullivan crossed the line 13th and 30th, respectively. Clark’s goal is to have those four and five runners closer to the front of the pack.
“I want to establish a very solid one through five,” Clark said. “I would like to see improvement from everyone and close the gap as much as possible, because that’s how you win. The goal is for everyone to get stronger and stronger as the season progresses and run with more confidence.“
That quintet will receive a boost when junior Felicia Guliford (and senior Megan Cauble, from Knoxville, make their debuts in 2005. Clark has not confirmed his final competition roster for the weekend, but that duo could potentially join senior Rachel Zamata and freshmen Rolanda Bell and Kimarra McDonald on the hilly trails at Lambert Acres. It is known, however, that senior Caitlin Ward, juniors Edra Finley and Robin Mortel (and sophomore Leslie Treherne will not run on Friday.The Lady Volunteers will be aiming for their second straight Tennessee Invitational title and their fifth ever. UT won its own meet in 1998, 2002 and 2004 and tied for first in 1999. Individually, a Lady Vol has won the meet four times, including Brooke Novak (2004), Sharon Dickie (2000, 2002) and Maureen Ferris (1998).