Okwera Qualifies for NCAAs for Second Year

Nov. 15, 2013

Team Standings Points
1. Georgia: 4-7-10-20-31 72
2. Florida: 1-2-9-29-32 73
3. Florida State: 8-13-19-23-38 101
4. Auburn: 3-11-15-30-58 117
5. Tennessee: 5-21-22-44-89 181

» Full Results

Tennessee Scorers Time
5. Peter Okwera 29:55.43
21. Daniel Tobin 30:39.04
22. Austin Whitelaw 30:39.49
44. Stephen Derlath 31:10.39
89. Jack Little 32:47.43

» Full Results

Team Standings Points
1. Florida State: 1-4-6-7-17 35
2. Vanderbilt: 8-19-27-28-34 116
3. Alabama: 13-18-24-41-47-63 143
9. Tennessee: 10-20-56-68-77 231

» Full Results

Tennessee Scorers Time
10. Chelsea Blaase 20:19.83
22. Alexis Panisse 20.48.33
59. Emily Williams 21:28.52
71. Kelsey Kane 21:36.46
80. Amirah Johnson 21:45.69

» Full Results

Junior // Kampala, Uganda

Okwera improved his performance at the regional meet as a junior, placing fifth in 29:55.43 to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive season

Sophomore // St. Joseph, Ill.

Blaase continued rolling through the second half of the cross country season. The sophomore placed 10th in the field in a time of 20:19.83.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Junior Peter Okwera booked his spot at nationals and five Tennessee runners earned all-region honors Friday at the NCAA South Regional Championships.

Okwera paced the Tennessee runners on the Alabama course, finishing fifth in the men's 10K race in 29 minutes, 55.43 seconds to take all-region honors and qualify for next week's NCAA Championships for the second consecutive year.

Senior Daniel Tobin (21st, 30:39.04) and junior Austin Whitelaw (22nd, 30:39.39) also earned all-region honors because of their top 25 finishes and helped the Vols to a fifth-place team finish, a three-place improvement over last season.

On the women's side, sophomore Chelsea Blaase led the way with a 10th-place finish in the 6K in 20:19.83. She was joined on the all-region medal stand by fellow sophomore Alexis Panisse, who was 22nd (20:48.33). The Lady Vols took nine in the race, also three spots better than a year ago.

The Vols finished fifth in the men's 10K thanks to top-25 finishes by Peter Okwera, Daniel Tobin and Austin Whitelaw.

Okwera finished the 10K in the lead pack in 29:55.43, good for fifth place. He earned one of the four automatic individual at-large bids for the NCAA Championships with his finish. He earned All-America honors at the meet last year.

"On the men's side, it was good to see Peter qualify for nationals again," said J.J. Clark, Tennessee director of track and field/cross country. "The team had a better run than at the conference meet. It was a better effort."

Tennessee was helped in the scoring by Tobin and Whitelaw. In his final career race, Tobin improved his personal best in the 10K by nearly two minutes to finish 21st in 30:39.04. Finishing a split-second after Tobin, Whitelaw also recorded his best in 30:39.39.

Stephen Derlath placed 44th in 31:10.31, and Jack Little rounded out the scoring by placing in the Vols' top five for the first time in 89th (32:04.25).

"Stephen Delarth has been a staple for this program throughout his career; he's been very consistent for us," Clark said. "Tobin has had the best race of his career the last two races."

The men finished the year with a 58-22 record, 19-12 against conference opponents.

The Lady Volunteers took to the 6K course with twenty-six other teams for the South Regional Championships this morning, placing ninth overall. It was a three-place improvement over last year's time.

Perhaps no runner in the field showed more improvement over the course of one year than sophomore Chelsea Blaase. A year ago, Blaase finished the NCAA South Regional in 105th place. This year, Blaase took 10th in 20:19.83 and was just two seconds away from earning an individual qualifying spot at the NCAA Championships. She could still be awarded one of the at-large individual bids.

Tennessee's performance was highlighted by top 25 performances by Blaase and fellow sophomore Alexis Panisse (22nd - 20:48.33). It was the first all-region honor for Panisse, who finished 32nd at the meet last year to lead the team.

"Chelsea ran a gutsy race today and just missed out on qualifying for NCAAs. Alexis came alive and had a solid finish."

The other scorers for Tennessee included: Emily Williams (59th - 21:28.52), Kelsey Kane (71st - 21:36.46) and Amirah Johnson (80th - 21:45.69). The Lady Vols top five had a time spread of 1:25.86, scoring 231 points and a team average finish time of 21:11.77 en route to ninth place overall. UT's Pativa Lowery finished 104th (22:04.57) and Caroline Duer was 146th (22:59.53).

Florida State's Colleen Quigley won the race in 19:58.55. Florida State and Vanderbilt finished first and second in the team standings.

Tennessee finished the season with a record of 70-24-1 (14-19-1 SEC). With four of five top runners returning next season, this season has laid a strong foundation for Tennessee women's cross country.

"With four of our top five runners returning for the women next year, I'm looking forward to continuing to work with this group and the new runners we add to this team," Clark said.





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