Sophomore Sharon Dickie finished first overall at the NCAA South Regional cross country race on Saturday to advance to the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Ames, Iowa, on Nov. 20.
Dickie won the 6K race in a time of 20:38.79 and is the first Lady Vol to win a regional event since Brenda Webb won the AIAW Region 2 crown in 1977. Her finish is also the best by a Lady Vol since Maureen Ferris finished fourth at the 1998 South Region contest, the same year that Dickie finished 12th. The race marks Dickie's second career win, the first coming at this year's UT Invitational, and comes after she sat out the 1999 season while redshirting due to a hip injury. By winning the regional race, Dickie also earns South Regional Athlete of the Year honors.
Sharon did a commendable job and made her place in Lady Vol history as one of two athletes to win a regional race, cross country coach Rodney Rothoff said. I thought that Sharon ran a great race plan and she is still learning to run from the front. The key for her was to go to the NCAA Championships and we accomplished that and I feel she is in the position to be the tenth All-American in Tennessee cross country history.
Two other UT runners also competed at the NCAA South Regional. Freshmen Jessica Southers and Erin Anderson each ran in their first NCAA meet. Southers finished 37th in a time of 22:07.09, a personal best, while Anderson finished 79th with a mark of 23:16.30.
The top two teams and four individuals not attached to an advancing team will earn automatic bids to the NCAA Championships. The teams advancing are South Florida and Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech and Georgia tied for second place, but Georgia Tech won the tiebreaker and the right to compete at the NCAA Championships. Joining Dickie among individuals competing at NCAAs are Keely Weaver (Belmont), Ashley LaBudde (Alabama), Sonja Shedden (Central Florida).
The NCAA Cross Country Championships will be contested on Monday, Nov. 20, at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.