Lady Vols
Running with its full lineup for the first time in 2009, the Tennessee women’s cross country team delivered its best performance of the season Friday afternoon, racing to third place at the Panorama Farms Invitational.
Competing in chilly conditions on the University of Virginia’s rural, 6,000-meter course, the Lady Volunteers tallied 69 points to finish behind second-ranked Villanova (17) and No. 10 UVa (52). Texas A&M was fourth at 117, followed by Maryland (126) and Richmond (157).
“We ran our best race of the season today, which is what we want to see as we approach the championship time of the season,” UT Lady Vol Head Coach J.J. Clark said. “I’m really proud of the way everyone ran, and we are just continuing to get better and better as the season goes along.”
For the fourth time this season, senior Jackie Areson was at the front of the pack for the Big Orange, covering the distance in 20 minutes, 53.50 seconds to place ninth out of 69 runners. The SEC’s top performer at 6K, Areson now has contributed to UT’s scoring tally in 20 consecutive starts.
“Jackie was the top runner for us once again,” Clark said. “She just continues to show consistency with her performances. I look forward to the next couple of weeks as we prepare for the conference meet.”
Senior Katie Van Horn and junior Brittany Sheffey flip-flopped their typical finishing order this season, placing 14th and 16th overall, respectively, in 21:21.35 and 21:31.17. Sheffey has scored in 16 straight meets, while Van Horn extended her consecutive spree to 14.
Helping Tennessee post its lowest one-through-five spread this season in a significant way were sophomore Chanelle Price and senior Phoebe Wright. Price crossed the line 17th in a career-best 21:37.12 and Wright was 18th in 21:44.29, helping Tennessee wind up with a 50.79-second spread. That was a great improvement over the previous best of 2:01.00, which came at the Crimson Classic on Sept. 18.
“We had a much tighter pack today with Chanelle and Phoebe racing for the first time this season,” Clark said. “They ran very tough and made us a much stronger team with their presence.”
Also running but not factoring in the tally were senior Michele Levy (46th, 23:06.50), sophomore Elizabeth Tiller (57th, 23:54.73), redshirt freshman Ramzee Fondren (61st, 24:32.72) and sophomore Elizabeth Altizer (67th, 25:21.52).
As Clark said, the Lady Vols will return to action in two weeks, when they travel to Oxford, Miss., to compete in the SEC Championships at the Ole Miss Golf Course. Race time for the women’s 6K competition is 11 a.m. central time.
Vols
Running in a field stacked with four ranked teams, the University of Tennessee men’s cross country team demonstrated improvement and battled its way to a sixth-place finish Friday afternoon at the Panorama Farms Invitational.
The Vols tallied 158 points to finish behind four ranked schools and Texas A&M. Host Virginia, ranked 15th nationally, took the title with 30 points, followed by No. 11 Syracuse (41), No. 24 Villanova (70), No. 26 Duke (109) and the Aggies (155).
Tennessee lowered the spread of its first through fifth runners back under one minute, getting all five guys across the finish line in 55.87 seconds. Leading the way for the second time this season and the fourth time in his past six outings was junior Michael Spooner, who navigated the 8,000-meter course in 24 minutes, 9.86 seconds to place 17th.
“We raced better this week than we did in our last meet in Louisville,” UT Men’s Head Coach George Watts said. “We showed some improvement by getting back under a minute spread for our top five. Our top three guys ran well, but we needed a little more help from our four and five runners to push us where I thought we could finish.
“I think we got a little too excited early in the race when we started too fast, and that cost us in the second half of the race.”
In addition to Spooner, the Big Orange got point contributions from junior Peter Sigilai (23rd, 24:25.66), freshman Leoule Degfae (31st, 24:38.61), senior Chris Kane (50th, 25:05.19) and senior Mike Brodsky (51st, 25:05.73). The rookie was in the scoring five for the fourth-straight meet, while Kane counted toward the final tally for the first time in 2009.
Sigilai, meanwhile, ran second on the squad after leading the Vols in his first two races. Brodsky returned to the top five after finishing sixth on the team two weekends ago in Louisville.
“It is nice to have Michael and Peter battling for the No. 1 spot,” Watts said. “That competition will really help them and our team when we run at the SEC Championships and regionals.
The Vols will return to action in two weeks, as they travel to Oxford, Miss., to compete in the SEC Championships at the Ole Miss Golf Course. Race time for the men’s 8K competition is 10 a.m. central time.