Oct. 16, 2004
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Racing to 21st with 498 points, Tennessee got a taste of top-flight national competition Saturday afternoon at the 8K Pre-NCAA Meet white race in Terre Haute, Ind. Shifting from meets featuring small fields, the Volunteers finished in the middle of a massive 35-team field on a cold and windswept day at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course. Race time temperatures hovered about 45 degrees while 23 mph wind gusts created uncomfortable wind chills for the Pre-NCAA white race.
"We had a tough day today," head coach George Watts said. "We struggled a little bit in the middle part of the race and got too far back in the pack to make a difference in the team scoring. Our goals haven't changed for the season. We need to regroup and back up our goals with some running. Our next step is to prepare for the SEC championship. We'll work hard to improve our mental approach to competition the next two weeks."
No. 2 Stanford won the team competition with 77 points. No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 5 Michigan finished second and third, respectively, with 165 and 188 points. Stanford's Ryan Hall won the meet with a 23:54.4 time. Michigan's tandem of Nate Brannen (23:56.8) and Nick Willis (23:58.5) earned silver and bronze.
Tennessee's effort started off on the wrong foot thanks to some travel problems Friday. Typically, the Vols get into town the afternoon before an away meet and do a work out on the course to get a feel for the lay of the land. Tennessee's flight plans got crossed up by delays. The Vols ended up having to rent a vehicle and drive from Cincinnati to Terre Haute, Ind. The change forced the Vols into Terre Haute after dark, preventing the Tennesseans from working out on the course. The first time the Vols got to see the course was Saturday afternoon when they ran it.
Farragut native Andy Baksa led the Volunteers with a 41st-place, 24:46.2 effort. Zach Sabatino followed in 25:02.5 to take 69th. Brian Mills took 110th in 25:22.7 to cross third for the Vols, his career-best finish within the Tennessee pack. Ed Davis finished 136th in 25:38.5. Ben Lukowski wrapped up Tennessee scoring with a 142nd, 25:40.8 effort.
Tennessee spends the next two weeks preparing for the first meet of the championship season, the 8K SEC championship Oct. 30 in Fayetteville, Ark.