Sept. 13, 2002
MARYVILLE, Tenn. -- Winning the Tennessee Invitational championship proved as easy as 1-2-3, thanks to Vols Tim Kelly, Rob Cloutier and Patrick Gildea crowding the awards stand with a top-three sweep, respectively.
Tennessee defended its home turf in a big way for the 8.3K test at Maryville's Lambert Acres Golf Club. Donning white tops and orange shorts on a hot but slightly breezy September night at the foothills of the Smokies, the Volunteers summed 22 points by keeping their top-five scorers bunched in the top 14 overall. The Tennesseans have gone through their cooldown run as victors three of the four times the Tennessee Invitational has been held at Lambert Acres.
"I'm very, very pleased with our performance, especially in an early season meet," cross country coach George Watts said. "We looked very sharp for this time of the season. We handled the challenge of other runners in the field. I know Belmont held out some guys, and that would have made for a different race. We kept our composure, adjusted our race strategy and ran quite well."
Heeding a call from Watts that he find himself nearer the front of the pack after last week's season opener at Notre Dame, junior Tim Kelly couldn't have finished any higher in the pack Friday night. Kelly won his first collegiate race comfortably with a 26:18.50 time, 24 seconds ahead of the runner-up.
"It was great to have our team do really well," Kelly said. "It will help with our confidence with the [South] regional race here. We ran pretty well for early in the season. It's nice how we stuck together."
Senior Rob Cloutier answered the bell for the Vols a second consecutive week. After leading Tennessee for the season opener, Cloutier crossed the line in 26:42.20 for a career-best second-place finish.
"It was a decent run," Cloutier said. "I didn't feel like I locked in as well mentally as I did at Notre Dame [last week]. I had to rely on my kick. I had teammates around me and that always helps. It's good to know that the guys behind you are working hard."
Only two seconds later, Patrick Gildea completed the Tennessee gold-silver-bronze sweep. The senior finished third in 26:44.30 in another solid effort, his highest finish since joining the Volunteer squad last season. Ed Davis gave the Vols a fourth finisher in the top six, which will whittle a team score low enough to win most any outing. Davis looked sharp in crossing sixth in 26:55.00. Steve Klein wrapped up Tennessee scoring with a 14th-place finish in 27:22.30.
Matthew Lapp took 18th in 27:32.80. Co-captain Scott DeFilippis, on the mend from an illness earlier this week, took 19th in 27:35.10. Newcomer Doug Brown tied for 21st in 27:46.80 in his first outing as a Volunteer. Cordis Stanfield finished 29th in 27:58.30 in his first action following a redshirt year.
"It was nice to see Tim Kelly run the way he's capable. Rob [Cloutier] and Patrick [Gildea] had another steady race. Ed Davis gave us a huge improvement. We sat out two guys [co-captain Eric Bell and Keith Kimmons] and Scott [DeFilippis] was not 100 percent. It was a solid effort by the guys we had running."
Tennessee managed a 1:04 spread between its first and fifth scorer. The spread stands a little larger than last week's 37 seconds, but DeFilippis' illness and Kelly's strong finish accounted for most of that difference. The Volunteers turn their focus to training the next three weeks and will return to action Oct. 5 at the 8K Indiana State Invitational on the site of the NCAA Championships course.