Nov. 12, 2011
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Lady Vol senior Brittany Sheffey qualified for her first NCAA Championship meet, and Vol senior Chris Bodary will have to wait and see, after both gave their all for Tennessee Saturday in the NCAA South Regional at Harry Pritchett Running Park.
While the Big Orange got superb individual efforts from their leaders, as has been customary this season, nothing else seemed to fall in place for J.J. Clark's teams. As a result, the Vols turned in a 12th-place showing out of 24 teams, tallying 341 points. The Lady Vols, who finished the race without three of their projected top-five runners, checked in 13th out of 27 schools with 384 points.
Sixteenth-ranked Florida State captured the men's title, accumulating 40 points, followed by Florida with 68, sending both on to the NCAA meet in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 21. In the women's race, top-ranked Florida State and No. 4 Vanderbilt advanced to nationals, tallying point totals of 34 and 54, respectively.
Sheffey made her third All-South Region squad and earned her first national bid, covering the 6000-meter course in 20:46.2 to place eighth of 191 runners. Having won the 5K Crimson Classic on the same course on Oct. 15, Sheffey returned Saturday and produced her fourth top-10 finish of the season and sixth of her career.
The native of Bellport, N.Y., finished a perfect 24 of 24 races in her college career of counting toward Tennessee's point total. She'll now run individually in the NCAA Championship meet after earning a bid as one of the top four runners not on the two automatic-advancing teams. It marks the eighth time in Clark's 10 seasons of leading the women's program that he had either a team or individual competing at the national meet.
"Brittany rebounded very nicely from the SEC meet and beat some runners today that finished ahead of her in that race," said Clark, UT's director of track & field/cross country. "It was very rewarding and exciting to see her punch her ticket to the NCAA Championship meet for the first time. We look forward to seeing what she can do in Terre Haute nine days from now."
As he has done all season long, Bodary blazed a trail for his Vol teammates to follow, crossing the finish line 12th out of 159 men in 31 minutes, 30.2 seconds over 10,000 meters. It was an improvement of 11 places over 2010 and enabled the native of Downington, Pa., to earn All-South Region accolades for the second year in a row.
Bodary held nothing back in trying to secure an individual NCAA Championship meet berth, but he came up just short of an automatic bid. The top four runners not on the two NCAA automatic-qualifying squads receive invitations, and Bodary was the sixth such finisher. He'll have to hope for an at-large nod when the NCAA makes its announcement on Sunday evening.
"I am very proud of Chris Bodary and the effort he gave today," Clark said. "He did a great job of executing the plan and was right there in the position he needed to be. He was five seconds out of that fourth automatic individual spot and just a half second behind the fifth guy, so we'll have to see what happens Sunday and whether he receives one of the at-large bids."
Sophomore Jake Rainey was Tennessee's second finisher in the men's race, winding up 35th in 32:27.6 for his second strong outing in a row after running ninth for the Vols here on Oct. 15 at the Crimson Classic. Freshman Austin Whitelaw was the third Vol to finish, running 33:32.7 to place 80th (79th scorer), followed by sophomore Stephen Derlath in 110th (106th) at 34:13.4 and freshman Jeremy Dickie in 113th (109th) at 34:22.5 to round out the scoring five.
Tennessee's fortunes took a damaging blow in the early going of the men's race, when senior Tom Gilmartin suffered an injury. He gamely finished the course, but he wasn't in UT's scoring five for the first time this season.
As for the Lady Vols, the absence of junior Ramzee Fondren and freshman Kacey Nobert, and the inability of sophomore Amber Zimmerman to complete the race, proved too much to overcome. All three were expected by Clark to be in his top five based on their performances at the past several meets.
After Sheffey, senior Chanelle Price was the Big Orange's next female finisher, placing 60th (55th) in 22:13.9. Also counting toward the final total were junior Kelsey Kane in 92nd (85th) with a career-best 22:48.6, freshman Amirah Johnson in 123rd (115th) at 23:27.9 and junior Nijgia Snapp in 131st with a career-best 23:39.5.
"I've said it all season long; everyone has to run perfectly for us to do well," Clark said. "That was not the case for us today, due to some circumstances beyond our control.
"Tommy G. wasn't himself after being injured early in the race, and to lose him out of that top five hurt. I feel that overall, the transition for the guys and me this season was a successful one, and it only gets better from here.
"On the women's side, I don't care what kind of team you have, you can't overcome three runners out of your top five not being in the mix. Considering what we lost, we held together pretty well to finish where we did after coming in ranked 10th in the region."
MEN'S TEAM RESULTS: 1. Florida State, 40; 2. Florida, 68; 3. Georgia, 94; 4. Auburn, 194; 5. Middle Tennessee, 200; 6. Georgia Tech, 232; 7. Kennesaw State, 258; 7. Mississippi, 258; 9. Chattanooga, 263; 10. Belmont, 281; 12. Tennessee, 341.
VOL INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (TOP 10): 12. Chris Bodary, 31:30.2; 35. Jake Rainey, 32:27.6; 80. (79.) Austin Whitelaw, 33:32.7!; 110. (106.) Stephen Derlath, 34:13.4!; 113. (109.) Jeremy Dickie, 34:22.5!; 117. (113.) Daniel Tobin, 34:30.0; 155. (151.) Tom Gilmartin, 36:54.8.
WOMEN'S TEAM RESULTS (TOP 10): 1. Florida State, 34; 2. Vanderbilt, 54; 3. Florida, 62; 4. Mississippi, 185; 5. Georgia, 208; 6. Alabama, 217; 7. Lipscomb, 258; 8. Mississippi State, 283; 9. North Florida, 284; 10. Belmont, 303; 13. Tennessee, 384.
LADY VOL INDIVIDUAL RESULTS: 8. Brittany Sheffey, 20:46.2; 60. (55.) Chanelle Price, 22:13.9; 92. (85.) Kelsey Kane, 22:48.6!; 123. (115.) Amirah Johnson, 23:27.9; 131. (121.) Nijgia Snapp, 23:39.5!; 157. (144.) Chelsea Knotts, 24:26.0!; DNF - Amber Zimmerman.