Oct. 18, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Sophomore Chelsea Blaase captured her first career cross country title to help Tennessee to a third-place finish Friday night at the Crimson Classic 5K.
Blaase held off Alabama's Katelyn Greenleaf by a second, crossing the finish line in 17 minutes, 21.19 seconds.
"She has been coming along pretty much every race," said J.J. Clark, Tennessee director of track and field/cross country. "It was good to see her have the confidence to stay in that front group through the whole race. It was good for our team for her to stay up there."
It was the first time this season Blaase had cracked the top 10 in a race. The St. Joseph, Ill., native had two top-20 finishes this season and had scored as Tennessee's second or third runner entering the Crimson Classic.
Blaase joins Brittany Sheffey as recent Tennessee champions on the Harry Pritchett Course. Sheffey won the Crimson Classic in 2011 as a senior.
In the team scoring, Blaase and fellow sophomore Alexis Panisse helped spark a third-place finish. Panisse scored her third consecutive top-10 finish, taking seventh in 17:33.24.
After the sophomore duo, Tennessee's three additional scorers included: freshman Emily Williams (25th, 17:56.97), Amirah Johnson (31st, 17:04.84) and Kelsey Kane (37th, 18:09.40). Johnson dropped 30 seconds off her career best time to make it into the UT scoring.
Tennessee's five runners totaled 97 points, beating SEC foes Auburn (4th, 122 points) and Vanderbilt (6th, 196 points). Host team Alabama won with 54 points.
"As a team, I believe it was our best team effort," Clark said. "Amirah Johnson had her best race of the year by far to get in the top five. This is the position I wanted to be in heading into conference season. We have to build on this."
In addition to seeing more SEC teams in action, Friday's meet also gave Tennessee the opportunity to scout another postseason site. The Lady Vols will return to the course next month for the NCAA South Regional. Tennessee also competed on Florida's course earlier this season, the site of the SEC Championships on Nov. 1.
The men's team is in action Saturday at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational.
1. Chelsea Blaase - 17:21.19
7. Alexis Panisse - 17:33.24
25. Emily Williams - 17:56.97
31. Amirah Johnson - 18:04.84
37. Kelsey Kane - 18:09.40
81. Patavia Lowery - 18:51.26
96. Kianna Ruff - 19:01.11
105. Nijgia Snapp - 19:17.34
109. Caroline Duer - 19:19.67
139. Brittney Jackson - 20:02.24
1. Alabama - 54
2. Mississippi State - 80
3. Tennessee - 97
4. Auburn - 122
5. Texas Arlington - 188
6. Vanderbilt - 196
7. Belmont - 211
8. Stephen F. Austin - 246
9. Southern Miss - 248
10. Florida State - 258