Oct. 16, 2009
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Running in a field stacked with four ranked teams, the University of Tennessee men's cross country team demonstrated improvement and battled its way to a sixth-place finish Friday afternoon at the Panorama Farms Invitational.
The Vols tallied 158 points to finish behind four ranked schools and Texas A&M. Host Virginia, ranked 15th nationally, took the title with 30 points, followed by No. 11 Syracuse (41), No. 24 Villanova (70), No. 26 Duke (109) and the Aggies (155).
Tennessee lowered the spread of its first through fifth runners back under one minute, getting all five guys across the finish line in 55.87 seconds. Leading the way for the second time this season and the fourth time in his past six outings was junior Michael Spooner, who navigated the 8,000-meter course in 24 minutes, 9.86 seconds to place 17th.
"We raced better this week than we did in our last meet in Louisville," UT Men's Head Coach George Watts said. "We showed some improvement by getting back under a minute spread for our top five. Our top three guys ran well, but we needed a little more help from our four and five runners to push us where I thought we could finish.
"I think we got a little too excited early in the race when we started too fast, and that cost us in the second half of the race."
In addition to Spooner, the Big Orange got point contributions from junior Peter Sigilai (23rd, 24:25.66), freshman Leoule Degfae (31st, 24:38.61), senior Chris Kane (50th, 25:05.19) and senior Mike Brodsky (51st, 25:05.73). The rookie was in the scoring five for the fourth straight meet, while Kane counted toward the final tally for the first time in 2009.
Sigilai, meanwhile, ran second on the squad after leading the Vols in his first two races. Brodsky returned to the top five after finishing sixth on the team two weekends ago in Louisville.
"It is nice to have Michael and Peter battling for the number-one spot," Watts said. "That competition will really help them and our team when we run at the SEC Championships and regionals.
The Vols will return to action in two weeks, as they travel to Oxford, Miss., to compete in the SEC Championships at the Ole Miss Golf Course. Race time for the men's 8K competition is 10 a.m. Central Time
MEN'S TEAM RESULTS: 1. Virginia 30, 2. Syracuse 41, 3. Villanova 70, 4. Duke 109, 5. Texas A&M 155, 6. Tennessee 158, 7. American 168, 8. Belmont 241, 9. Richmond 272, 10. Maryland 302.
|MEN'S TEAM RESULTS|
|VOL INDIVIDUAL RESULTS|
|1.||Emil Heineking, Virginia||23:16.19|
|17. (17.)||Michael Spooner||24:09.86|
|23. (22.)||Peter Sigilai||24:25.66|
|31. (30.)||Leoule Degfae||24:38.61|
|50. (44.)||Chris Kane||25:05.19|
|51. (45.)||Mike Brodsky||25:05.73|
|63. (51.)||Chris Bodary||25:28.20|
|64. (52.)||Tom Gilmartin||25:28.82|