It was not the kind of day Lady Vols coach J.J. Clark envisioned for his team at the 2005 NCAA Division I Women’s Cross Country Championships.
His high hopes for the 15th-ranked Tennessee squad were dashed Monday afternoon when the UT women finished 28th out of 31 squads at LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind.
Though paced by a solid individual effort from junior Felicia Guliford, Tennessee placed only one runner among the top 100 finishers and saw its score balloon to 641 points. It was a disappointing development for a four-time South Region championship squad that was looking to climb the ladder from national finishes of 28th, 24th and 21st over the past three seasons.
In the race for the NCAA trophy, second-ranked Stanford pulled off an upset for the team title over Colorado and Duke, which had entered the meet as the favorite. Southeastern Conference foes Arkansas and Georgia came away in 19th and 31st, respectively.
Tennessee’s ninth NCAA appearance and 12th overall visit to a national meet was buoyed by Guliford, who improved from an 81st-place outing a year ago to 58th this season in 20:46. The junior from Gallup, N.M., stayed on pace with a group of about 20 runners for the first 3,000 meters and fell back slightly in leading the Lady Vols for the third time in the past three races.
Also contributing to the scoring cause for the Lady Vols was junior Katie Flaute, who was the second Lady Vol to cross the line in a time of 21:15 that was good for 113th place. Rounding out the scoring five were senior Carly Matthews in 197th at 22:04, freshman Leah Soro in 199th at 22:05 and freshman Sarah Bowman in 231st at 22:41.
Running but not counting toward the scoring total were senior Mindy Sullivan, who was 235th in a time of 22:49, and freshman Rolanda Bell, who was 243rd in 23:10.
“The team had a good season,” Clark said. “We didn’t finish where we wanted to finish, but, luckily, we have a chance next year to come back and make it right.”