The University of Tennessee women's cross country team was unable to accomplish its goal of a top-20 national finish, but first-year coach J.J. Clark's team did state its case for a spot in the FinishLynx Top 30 and a nod as one of the United States' up-and-coming distance programs.
The Lady Vols tallied 657 points to finish tied for 28th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships Monday afternoon at the 6000-meter LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course.
Dependable senior Sharon Dickie once again paced the Lady Vols, finishing 50th in a time of 20:48.8 in her final cross country race as a Lady Vol. It marked the 19th consecutive time the Grand Blanc, Mich., native has crossed the line first for Tennessee, dating back to Nov. 23, 1998. Incidentally, that was the last time the Lady Vols made an NCAA team appearance.
Felicia Guliford, who has scored mainly in the two and three positions for the Lady Vols all season long, suffered a hip injury in Tennessee's regional victory and spent the early part of the week on crutches with severe pain. After rehabilitating the injury all week, consulting with physicians and running for the first time on Sunday, Guliford and Clark made the decision for her to compete. Guliford finished 246th.
"I felt it was obvious we could have had a top-20 finish without Felicia being hurt," Clark said. "She did the best she could today with the injury. Injuries are part of the sport. We just have to figure out what caused the problem so we can avoid it happening again."
BYU claimed the team title with 85 points. Taking the individual crown was North Carolina's Shalane Flanagan in 19:36.0.
Men's cross country finished 31st
Nine days after posting the high-water mark in Tennessee's cross country season with an improbable team victory at the NCAA South Regionals, the Volunteer harriers' fortunes cooled Monday with a 31st-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
Tennessee struggled to advance its pack through the best field the nation has to offer on Indiana State's 10K LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course, resulting in a 647-point, 31st-place finish. The Vols finished one point behind 30th-place Michigan State.
"We're disappointed," Watts said. "When you go to the national meet, you have to be ready to compete. In this race there's a fine line where you're literally in it one minute and out of it the next minute. You've got to be in it mentally in this race, and it's a tough race to run. We got out OK, but from the one-mile mark we just didn't run from there."
Pre-race favorite Stanford took the team title with 47 points, 60 points ahead of runner-up Wisconsin. Individually, Jorge Torres, running for fourth-place Colorado, broke the tape first to lead in the 214-runner field.
Patrick Gildea led the Volunteer effort for the fourth race this season with his 100th-place finish in a lifetime-best 31:07.6.
Senior co-captain Eric Bell finished his cross country career 137th in 31:28.1. Bell stood as the second Tennessean to cross the finish line, his highest position in the Vol pack since 2000.
Qualifying for the 2002 NCAA Championships also marked the first time since 1994-95 that the Vols qualified as a team in the NCAA Championships.
Cross country wraps up season
Published: Wed Nov 27, 2002 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 04:43 p.m.