Cross Country Vols Dominant in Season Opener

Sept. 18, 2004


Tennessee opened its cross country season in the most promising fashion possible as the Volunteers defeated all six opponents Saturday in Western Kentucky's five-mile test, the 23rd annual Old Timers Classic at Kereiakes Park in Bowling Green, Ky.

In head-to-head dual-meet scoring, something of a rarity now in collegiate cross country, Tennessee went 6-0 by handily defeating each team in the field to uncork the 2004 campaign. In fact, Tennessee posted a perfect score of 15-50 against Austin Peay, Eastern Kentucky, MTSU, Tennessee Tech and Tennessee-Martin by placing its first seven runners ahead of each opponent's top runner. In the only scoring variation, Tennessee defeated host Western Kentucky 17-46.

"I was really pleased with the overall effort," head coach George Watts said. "Our training has gone well. The guys were anxious to get a race under their belts to see where they were fitness wise. Our guys were really focused on running in Alabama, but with the meet canceled [because of Hurricane Ivan] I thought the guys handled the change well and adjusted to new competition and a new course."

Running without a single senior donning the orange and white Saturday, Tennessee's youngsters and newcomers more than filled the bill. Tennessee newcomer Zach Sabatino, a junior transfer from West Virginia, began his Volunteer career with an individual victory in 25:10.14. Farragut native Andy Baksa, another newcomer who transferred from Belmont, finished second in 25:13.98. Unattached Enda Grandfield slipped in at third in 25:20.59, but he doesn't count in the team score by virtue of competing unattached.

Tennessee sophomore Chris Platt took fourth in 25:25.64. In fifth place, Western Kentucky's Daniel Roberts (25:28.04) proved to be the only competitor counting toward the team scores to crack Tennessee's tightly bunched top seven. Vol newcomer Ben Lukowski, a sophomore West Virginia transfer, finished sixth in 25:31.04. Farragut native Nate Jansen, a Vol sophomore, rounded out Tennessee's top five with a seventh-place, 25:37.09 offering.



Knoxville West product Dusty Miller, a sophomore, took eighth in 25:41.66. Brian Mills, another Vol sophomore, crossed the line in 25:45.64 to secure ninth place and put the bookend on Tennessee's top seven.

"We had a very good spread of 35 seconds between our top seven," Watts said. "If we can continue to improve on that spread it will make a big difference later in the season. The times we ran were very acceptable."

Junior Ed Davis took 12th in 26:14.11. Freshman Matt Piccarello opened in 26:30.11 to earn 15th in his first collegiate race. Junior Kenny Schappert rounded out the Tennessee performance with a 23rd-place, 27:36.19 workday. Tennessee held out senior captain Matthew Lapp and sophomore West Virginia transfer Tyler DeVault.

Running five miles through Bowling Green's Kereiakes Park, the Vols navigated a two-loop course Watts described as "fairly demanding." The inner loop featured hilly terrain with lots of turns, while the outer loop consisted of a crushed gravel path more conducive to gaining and maintaining speed. The conditions at race time were nearly perfect, about 70 degrees and under sunny skies.

The Volunteers return to action Oct. 1 at the Tennessee Invitational, the lone home meet of the season, at Maryville's Lambert Acres Golf Club.

Tennessee vs. Austin-Peay, 15-50
Tennessee vs. Eastern Kentucky, 15-50
Tennessee vs. MTSU, 15-50
Tennessee vs. Tennessee Tech, 15-50
Tennessee vs. Tennessee-Martin, 15-50
Tennessee vs. Western Kentucky, 17-46

1. Zach Sabatino, Tenn. 25:10.14
2. Andy Baksa, Tenn. 25:13.98
4. Chris Platt, Tenn. 25:25.64
6. Ben Lukowski, Tenn. 25:31.04
7. Nate Jansen, Tenn. 25:37.09
8. Dusty Miller, Tenn. 25:41.66
9. Brian Mills, Tenn. 25:45.64
12. Ed Davis, Tenn. 26:14.11
15. Matt Piccarello, Tenn. 26:30.11
23. Kenny Schappert, Tenn. 27:36.19
58. Erik McCray, Cumberland College 35:19.16



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