The Lady Vol cross country team can add more hardware to the trophy case.
A week after winning the SEC championship, No. 24 UT rolled to its second straight NCAA South Region title Saturday at Auburn's Indian Pines Golf Club.
Tennessee, which packed three runners among the top 10 and placed all five scorers within the first 26 finishers, accumulated 71 points and easily defended its 2002 title over No. 28 Florida State, which once again posted a second-place outcome with 93. Georgia, which finished second to UT at the recent SEC Championships, took third in the field of 25 teams.
The repeat regional triumph, the first accomplished in the 30-year history of the Tennessee program, automatically qualifies the Lady Vols for the Nov. 24 NCAA Championships meet.
"I knew we had a good team, and that if everyone ran the way they were capable of running, we'd be the significantly better team," said coach J.J. Clark.
Leading the Lady Vol pack for the third straight race and the fourth time in 2003 was junior Brooke Novak, who posted her second consecutive top-five regional performance. She claimed fifth with a season-best 20:54.80 and earned All-South status for the second straight year.
Sophomore Megan Cauble (seventh place at 20:59.21) and senior Lindsay Hyatt (ninth at 21:02.73) finished right on Novak's heels and provided UT with its first top-10 trio at regionals since 1983.
"You look at those first three times - we've never had three that close together, up so high," Clark said. "There were only eight seconds separating Brooke, Megan and Lindsay."
For the first time in program history, the Lady Vols placed all seven of its competitors in the top 38 of the NCAA Regionals.
Kelly qualifies for Vols
The men's cross country squad concluded its team season with an overachieving, fourth-place finish in the 21-team NCAA South Regionals. The Volunteers entered the meet ranked sixth in the South Region.
Senior Tim Kelly advanced to the NCAA Championships individually and the Vols racked up three members on the All-Region team, but the increased overall strength in the South Region denied UT a third consecutive NCAA Championship team berth. Kelly's lifetime-best qualifier (30:29.58) keeps alive Tennessee's streak of being represented in the NCAAs by a team or individual in all but three seasons since 1971.
But UT's top-five scoring spread stood at 1:12.19, the slowest of the six races this season.