Beau Pederson
Staff Writer

The Tennessee men’s cross country team will participate in its first event this season tonight at 6:30 at the UTC Invitational.
The teams that will compete in the Invitational include Samford, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Middle Tennessee State and Belmont.
Tennessee coach George Watts said the Invitational will be a great test for his team.
“We’re going to run against some pretty good competition, so I want to see how we will react to that,” Watts said.
Unlike most cross country races, this one will be only 5 kilometers instead of 8.
“UTC is kind of an odd meet,” junior Brian Mills said. “It isn’t the normal distance for our races, so the times won’t be as relevant as the effort will be.”
Mills said the objective for this Friday’s meet isn’t just to win.
“We are obviously running to win, but it will also serve as a good measuring stick for where we are in our training at this point,” he said.
Watts said he believes that this team is well prepared for its first competition this season.
“Usually first meets boil down to summer training,” Watts said. “My guys did what they needed to do this summer in training and are as prepared as they need to be for the first competition.”
Said Mills: “We are up early and pounding the pavement hard what seems like everyday since we have started school again. He has a battle plan for the season and we are following it.”
Watts also expects some good competition this weekend, especially from UT-Chattanooga, which beat the Vols at last year’s Tennessee Invitational.
“UT-Chattanooga is always competitive with us,” Watts said. “They’re excited that we’re coming to their course for the first time in about five or six years.”
Mills is hoping that the UTC Invitational will be a great start to this season.
“We just need to stay focused on our real objectives — the SEC, regional and NCAA meets,” Mills said. “While this race will be a nice break in the routine of practice, it can’t be looked at or approached like the meets to come. We just have to use it as a building block for the rest of the season.”