Michael Spooner was a second-team All-SEC performer for the third time.
Nov. 1, 2010
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The University of Tennessee men's cross country team followed a familiar formula Monday morning, running behind senior Michael Spooner for the fourth time this season en route to a fourth-place team finish at the Southeastern Conference Championships.
For the Vols, the coaches' preseason pick to tie for fifth, it marked the squad's best finish at this meet since also coming in fourth in 2007. Arkansas claimed its 18th SEC crown with 34 points, followed by Alabama (62) and Florida (69). The Big Orange accumulated 132 points to improve two spots from 2009, while Ole Miss took fifth, 22 points behind UT, with the Rebels' Barnabas Kirui snaring the individual crown in 23:52.07.
"I thought we ran our best race of the season," UT Men's Cross Country Coach George Watt said. "It's the SEC Championship, and we had a goal of finishing in the top four. We did it, and I am very pleased with that.
"We went out a little faster than we expected to, but we regrouped and finished well. Over the last 400 meters of the race, we probably gained about six or seven points, so I like that, and it bodes well for the regional meet."
Earning All-SEC Second Team status for the third straight season, Spooner covered the 8,000-meter Hilton Field Course at Fort Jackson Army Base in 24 minutes, 27.17 seconds. Despite windy conditions, the UT captain matched his 11th-place league finish of a year ago and led his team to the finish line for the 10th time in his past 12 starts.
"I'm very proud of Mike," Watts said. "Going into the race, he probably had a few doubts, based on our last performance, individually and as a team. That's the best he's looked all season. He never appeared to be struggling and if he can look that good at five miles with a mile to go at the regional meet (a longer race at 10K), then he has a chance to do really well and accomplish his goals this season.
"I'm also proud of him for battling and hanging in there and earning his third All-SEC honor. There aren't many who've achieved that during their career at Tennessee."
The most recent Vols to collect three or more All-SEC nods were Tony Cosey, four times from 1992 to 1995, and Stewart Ellington, 1993 to 1995.
For the second straight meet, senior Chris Rapp ran in the No. 2 position for the Vols. After redshirting last season due to injury, the product of Mason, Ohio, turned in a career-best 26th-place overall SEC finish (25th scorer) in 25:10.19. Junior Chris Bodary was five places behind him in 31st (30th) at 25:24.24.
Tennessee's final two scorers earned SEC All-Freshman Team accolades. True freshman Jake Rainey was his team's fourth man, covering the rolling course in 25:30.42, while redshirt freshman Daniel Tobin navigated the four-loop layout in a personal-best 25:33.77.
Running but not scoring were senior Steve Fassino in 44th (42nd) at 26:04.26, junior Tom Gilmartin in 47th (44th) at 26:09.32, freshman Tyler Freeman in 54th with a career-best 26:22.58 and senior David Clabo, who did not finish.
Up next, the Vols will travel to Hoover, Ala., for the NCAA South Regional on Nov. 13. Start time for the 10K race is 10:45 a.m. Central time.
MEN'S TEAM RESULTS: 1. Arkansas 34, 2. Alabama 62, 3. Florida 69, 4. Tennessee 132, 5. Ole Miss 154, 6. Georgia 155, 7. Mississippi State 211, 8. Kentucky 222, 9. LSU 231, 10. Auburn 234, 11. Vanderbilt 278.
VOL INDIVIDUAL RESULTS: 11. Michael Spooner 24:27.17, 26. (25.) Chris Rapp 25:10.19, 31. (30.) Chris Bodary 25:24.24, 34. (32.) Jake Rainey, 25:30.42, 36. (34.) Daniel Tobin 25:33.77!, 44. (42.) Steve Fassino 26:04.26, 47. (44.) Tom Gilmartin 26:09.32, 54. Tyler Freeman 26:22.58!, 7a2. Stephen Derlath 27:03.40, DNF - David Clabo.
Michael Spooner SEC Post-Race Interview