Red shirt freshman Austin Whitelaw broke a 25-year school record this weekend at the Armory Collegiate Invitational in New York City.
Whitelaw covered the 5,000-meter (3.1 miles) race in 14:18.11 seconds, placing third at the invitational. The time broke former 1988 UT track star Todd Williams' time of 14:24.29 seconds.
Williams went on to take the American record in the 10,000 and 15,000 meters and compete in the Olympics for the United States.
Whitelaw and Williams are both from Michigan and graduated from the same high school.
Whitelaw said taking the record meant more, knowing Williams' background.
"It feels good taking the record knowing that he was such a storied athlete," Whitelaw said.
His performance puts Whitelaw 13th in the nation and first in the SEC. He is seventh all-time in UT school history. Whitelaw said he thinks the accomplishment will work as a performance boost.
"I think it will immensely boost my fitness and confidence level come outdoor season," Whitelaw said.
Sophomore middle distance runner Nick Kaiser, also a Michigan native, said the race will put Whitelaw in a position to succeed.
"(It) puts him in a great place going into SEC's in a couple of weeks to run fast," Kaiser said.
The SEC Championships begin Feb. 22 in Fayetteville, Ark.
The past year was a less than smooth road for Whitelaw leading up to his record performance. During the fall of 2012, Whitelaw was forced to drop out of the SEC championship race for cross-country and was not able to compete in the NCAA D1 South Regional Meet for a chance to compete at the NCAA D1 National Championship. The freshman was unable to compete due to severe shin splints.
Whitelaw missed massive amounts of training throughout the winter and is just beginning to get back into full training cycles.
Because of this, Whitelaw will also be a red shirt freshman for the outdoor season and is not far from the outdoor freshman record in the 5,000 meters with a time of of 13:59 minutes.
As a team the Vols finished fourth with over 100 teams competing and will compete next at the Tyson invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., starting on Friday.