Oct. 10, 2003
AUBURN, Ala. -- Tennessee's cross country squad ran to a third-place finish in a large, though smaller than expected, 29-team Auburn Invitational field on a rain-soaked Alabama night on the 8K Indian Pines Golf Course. Despite running without two dependable scorers in Tim Kelly and Jeff Day, the Volunteers still kept the score down to 156 and shrank the five-man scoring spread to 39.55 seconds, less than a second off their season-best effort in that category.
Homestanding Auburn took the team title with 127 points. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech earned runner-up laurels with 141 points, 15 points ahead of the Tennesseans. With the SEC race on the horizon, Tennessee defeated 10th-place Mississippi State (264), 12th-place LSU (273) and 16th-place Vanderbilt (430). Individually, Georgia Tech's Kyle Rabbitt won the race with a 27:47.87 time.
"We had an uneventful day," head coach George Watts said. "It wasn't a poor effort, just nothing spectacular as a team. We just didn't seem to get it done in the last mile and a half, and that seemed to cost us having a better performance. On a positive note, I'd like to single out Steve Klein for being our No. 1 man for the first time this season. Also, Chris Platt appears to be rounding into better shape. He did a nice job to finish as our fifth man as a freshman."
Co-captain Klein continued his improvement by leading the Vol contingent with his 18th-place, 25:43.34 effort in a 259-runner field. To begin the season Klein vaulted from eighth in the Vol pack to fifth among the Tennessee runners in the second race. Klein jumped from third in the pack last week to Friday's orange and white leader.
Meanwhile, Tennessee's other co-captain, Matthew Lapp, remained steady. Lapp finished 23rd, second among Vols, with a 25:50.65 time. In four races this season Lapp has finished no lower than the second man on Tennessee's squad. Farragut product Nate Jansen completed the 8K test in 26:16.07 to earn 40th. Bouncing back from not finishing last week's race, Jansen improved his season-best time by 12 seconds. Doug Brown made a significant leap up the Tennessee pack with his 41st-place, fourth among Vols, 26:16.76 finish to land in the squad's scoring five for the first time this season. True freshman Platt enjoyed his best race of the season by taking 44th in 26:22.89 to wrap up Tennessee's scoring. Platt lopped 37 seconds from his season best.
"We need to work on getting our spread down to 30 seconds. Along with that, we need to be farther up in the field for it to make a difference. We certainly missed Tim Kelly [illness] and Jeff Day [serving as best man at his brother's wedding]. I think they would have made a difference in the team scoring."
Ed Davis arrived sixth for the Vols and 53rd overall in 26:30.76. Knoxville West product Dusty Miller finished 75th in 26:51.28. Powell graduate Scott Shoemaker took 111th in 27:26.31. Paul Cross finished 136th in 27:59.85. Brian Mills finished 143rd in 28:03.56. Marc Sylvester concluded the Vol day with a 28:46.68 time, good for 184th.
Following Watts' schedule design, the Volunteers train three consecutive weeks before donning the orange again at the SEC Championships Nov. 3 in Athens, Ga. The conference tangle begins the stretch of three title meets known as the all-important championship season. Between Nov. 3 and Nov. 24, the SEC, NCAA South Region and, if a team qualifies, NCAA Championships take place to put the final stamp of success on a season of racing down the green fairways of fall.
1. Auburn 127, 2. Georgia Tech 141, 3. TENNESSEE 156, 4. Chattanooga 163, 5. Kennesaw State 175, 6. Cumberland 196, 7. Belmont 198, 8. Georgia State 218, 9. Purdue 232, 10. Mississippi State 264, 11. Coastal Carolina 268, 12. LSU 272, 13. Western Kentucky 336, 14. West Georgia 367, 15. Samford 387, 16. Vanderbilt 430, 17. Tulane 469, 18. Birmingham Southern 470, 19. Troy State 479, 20. Mobile College 592, 21. Mercer 610, 22. Alabama State 616, 23. Bowling Green 628, 24. South Alabama 636, 25. Southeastern Louisiana 662, 26. Lipscomb 716, 27. New Orleans 777, 28. Columbus State 784, 29. Xavier (La.) 866.
1. Kyle Rabbitt, Ga. Tech 24:47.87; 18. Steve Klein, Tenn. 25:43.34; 23. Matthew Lapp, Tenn. 25:50.65; 40. Nate Jansen, Tenn. 26:16.07; 41. Doug Brown, Tenn. 26:16.76; 44. Chris Platt, Tenn. 26:22.89; 53. Ed Davis, Tenn. 26:30.76; 75. Dusty Miller, Tenn. 26:51.28; 111. Scott Shoemaker, Tenn. 27:26.31; 136. Paul Cross, Tenn. 27:59.85; 143. Brian Mills, Tenn. 28:03.56; 184. Marc Sylvester, Tenn. 28:46.68; 259. Deric Young, Columbus State 41:01.50.