MARYVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee men’s cross country team scored 69 points Friday at the 8.4K UT Invitational to finish third out of 10 teams. The Vols finished behind only Louisville’s 46 points and Belmont’s 60 in the race, which was contested at Lambert Acres Golf Club in Maryville.
Coach George Watts was relatively happy with the warm-up for UT.
“It was a pretty competitive race,” head coach Watts said. “I thought the course was slow, and the times would indicate that. As a whole, we ran pretty well.”
Senior Ben Lukowski led the Vols with a third-place finish in 26:59, 20 seconds off the first place pace. He was followed by Matt Piccarello in ninth with a time of 27:17 and Nate Jansen in 16th at 27:43. Denton Jones finished 18th in 27:49 and Richie Bonilla scored 23rd with his time of 28:13 to close out the scoring for Tennessee.
“I think the race went pretty well,” Lukowski said. “Right now we’re just trying to figure it out. We held out three guys, and we’re just trying to warm up right now.”
Tyler DeVault, Chris Platt and Dusty Miller did not compete in the invitational.
“This is a great course. It’s tough, but I think it’s going to work to our advantage (at the regional),” Lukowski said.
Jeff Day finished 25th with his time of 28:22 after battling leg cramps during the second half of the race. The senior was followed by Greg Thomas in 30th at 28:31. Freshman Chris Kane completed the course in 28:45 to take 39th, while Chris Rapp finished 46th in 29:02 and Mike Brodsky crossed the line in 29:14 for 51st.
“Overall, I’d have liked to finish a team-place higher, and we’ll need to in our next go-round on this course,” Watts said.
Former Vol Andy Baksa, running unattached, won the race overall. He led the 102 finishers across the finish line with his time of 26:39 on the 5.2-mile course.
Tennessee will take next weekend off before competing in the 8K Greater Louisville Cross Country Classic on Sept. 30.