The University of Tennessee women's cross country team finished seventh out of 34 collegiate teams Saturday at the Furman Invitational. Tennessee finished with 264 points behind overall champion Wake Forest with 45 points.
Sophomore Sharon Dickie paced the Lady Vols for the fourth straight meet, as she took second among collegiate athletes, third overall, with a mark of 17:44 in the 5K race at the Furman University Golf Course. Her time is the twelfth fastest by a Lady Vol at the Furman course in 23 outings. Dickie was also the first Southeastern Conference runner to cross the line from the five SEC teams competing.
Freshman Jessica Southers was the next UT runner to finish as she took 10th overall and was the eighth collegiate competitor with a time of 18:18. Southers was also the third SEC runner to finish. Teammate Erin Anderson, meanwhile, crossed the line in 74th with a clocking of 19:52. Sophomore Amber Ayub finished 100th in the field of 242 runners with a mark of 20:26.
Sophomore Rebecca Collins and freshman Kameisha Bennett, making her cross country debut, finished 123rd and 147th, respectively, with times of 20:55 and 21:41. Freshman Renn Watkins did not compete due to illness.
I am pleased with the way the team handled the adversity that we faced with Renn Watkins not running at the last minute today, Lady Vol coach Rodney Rothoff said. We made good strides as a team today and I am especially pleased with the top two runners. Jessica showed a lot of toughness for a freshman by fighting off a number of runners to maintain her position. Sharon is still not 100 percent healthy after last season's injury, but I am pleased by the moves she has made to improve in the last two weeks.
I am looking forward to the SEC Championships in a couple of weeks. I am excited about what the team is showing me headed into the conference meet.
Valerie Young, running unattached, was the overall winner in a time of 17:19 followed by Sara Day of Wake Forest with a pace of 17:34. Wake Forest won the team crown as Auburn (102), Florida (147), Belmont (148) and Furman (158) rounded out the top five. Tennessee defeated two SEC schools, as Kentucky took 10th (289) and South Carolina finished in 12th (349).

Men struggle at Michigan
The men's squad finished 11th in its toughest field of the season Sunday at the Wolverine Interregional Invitational at the University of Michigan Golf Course in Ann Arbor, Mich. Tennessee finished with 218 points. Texas took the win with 77 points in the competitive 8K race. Mark Pilja of Michigan took the win on his home course in 24:42.
Despite the low finish, Tennessee made some headway. The Volunteers continued to solidify their pack in anticipation of the SEC Championships. Tennessee ran to a season-best 8K spread of 41 seconds between its top five finishers. Additionally, the 26:27.60 average finishing time for the top five Vols ranks second on the season in 8K races.
Individually, Eric Bell led the Vols for the third time this season with a 27th- place, 26:03 finish. Rob Cloutier continued to be one of the top Vol finishers by taking 35th in 26:17. Marcus Tanner placed 49th (48th when adjusted for scoring purposes) in 26:33 in his second outing of the season. Freshman Paul Hallman also found his way onto the list of Vol scorers in his second collegiate race with a 55th-place (53rd when adjusted for scoring), 26:41 race. Freshman Keith Kimmons rounded out the Tennessee scorers by clocking a 26:44 to take 57th (55th adjusted for scoring). Additionally, Clay Wiggins broke the tape in 27:29 to earn 76th (69th adjusted for scoring). Matt Dewalt finished 81st (72nd adjusted for scoring) in 27:49.
Both the men's and women's teams will next be in action at the SEC Championships Oct. 30 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.