Oct. 13, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Led by freshman Alexis Panisse, the Tennessee Lady Vol cross country squad finished second in their ninth trip to the annual Crimson Classic hosted by the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday. The Vols, who were making their 15th trip to the event, placed fourth at Harry Pritchett Running Park in the squad's final tune-up before the 2012 Southeastern Conference Championship.
"Overall, I know we have momentum heading into the SEC Championships because the men are running consistently well and the women had their best race of the season," said director of track & field and cross country J.J. Clark."
In a field of 15 schools, the Lady Vols had four finish in the top 25 to total 94 points and take second place. Panisse, who has led the Lady Vols in all four meets this season, shattered her personal record by navigating the 5,000-meter course in 17 minutes, 42.15 seconds to take second overall. Samford's Lauren D'Alessio won the event with a time of 17:31.15.
Following Panisse was senior Kelsey Kane, who has scored in all four meets this season. Kane clocked a personal-best 5K time of 18:04.5 to place 11th at the event. Junior Amber Zimmerman was back in action for the Big Orange and navigated the course in 18:21.79 to finish in 19th place.
Freshman Chelsea Blaase also scored for the Lady Vols with a time of 18:30.35 to take 27th place overall. Tennessee got a big performance out of sophomore Amirah Johnson - who scored for the first time this season - with a time of 18:43.91 to earn a 41st place finish in the field of 135 runners.
"The ladies had their best run to date," said Clark. "Alexis continued to lead the squad and Kelsey had another great run. Blaase, a freshman, is really starting to find her rhythm and we got a big run out of Amirah, who rounded out our top five to solidify the second place finish."
Once again led by sophomore transfer Peter Okwera, the Vol cross country team finished fourth at the Crimson Classic with 101 total points. UT had three runners finish in the top 20, with Okwera notching a seventh place finish. He navigated the 8,000-meter course in 25:38.98. Junior Stephen Derlath posted his best finish of the season, recording an 11th place finish in a time of 26:08.39. Derlath's classmate Jordan Chaney returned to action this weekend and rounded out the Vols' top three with a 20th place finish in a personal-record time of 26:21.55.
"The men ran really well, but we had an unfortunate spill as a runner from Georgia Tech pushed one of our top guys and he wasn't able to finish the race," said Clark. "We had the expectations of doing really well during the race today, but two of our top five athletes could not finish the race. The good news is, Jordan ran really well and the insertion of Kyle Walter and Austin Whitelaw will put us in great position. We just need to make sure we put it all together at the conference meet."
Alabama defended its home course in the women's race, totaling 74 points to win the event. Georgia Tech took the men's title with 66 total points.
After taking a week off to train, the UT harriers will compete in the annual SEC Championships in Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 26. The Vols took fifth at the championship meet last season, with the women notching a ninth place finish.
MEN'S TEAM RESULTS (TOP 10): 1. Georgia Tech, 66; 2. Auburn, 73; 3. Mississippi State, 77; 4. Tennessee, 101; 5. Alabama, 133; 6. Samford, 166; 7. Sam Houston St., 186; 8. Northern Kentucky, 207; 9. Ole Miss, 241; 10. Mississippi Valley, 271
WOMEN'S TEAM RESULTS (TOP 10): 1. Alabama, 74; 2. Tennessee, 94; 3. Mississippi State, 96; 4. Lipscomb, 105; 5. Samford, 110; 6. Georgia Tech, 138; 7. Auburn, 156; 8. Sam Houston St., 189; 9. Ole Miss, 264; 10. Jacksonville, St., 302
MEN'S INDIVIDUAL RESULTS: Peter Okwera (7th, 25:38.98), Stephen Derlath (11th, 26:08.39), Jordan Chaney (20th, 26:21.55), Daniel Tobin (35th, 26:46.82), J.R. Creekmore (55th, 27:17), Jeremy Dickie (68th, 27.37.7), Alex McCandless (78th, 27:51.65),
WOMEN'S INDIVIDUAL RESULTS: Alexis Panisse (2nd, 17:42.15), Kelsey Kane (11th, 18:04.5), Amber Zimmerman (19th, 18:21.79), Chelsea Blaase (27th, 18:30.35), Amirah Johnson (41st, 18:43.91), Kacey Nobert (48th, 18:58.69), Nijgia Snapp (56th, 19:05.37), Kianna Ruff (82nd, 19:45.84), Patavia Lowery (90th, 19:56.97), Lizzie Cornell (97th, 20:03.2)