Michael Spooner was 11th at the NCAA South Regional and put himself on the bubble for the NCAA Championship meet.
Nov. 13, 2010
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
HOOVER, Ala. -- Senior Michael Spooner raced to an 11th-place showing and led the University of Tennessee men's cross country team to a fourth-place finish Saturday in the NCAA South Regional meet at Veterans Park.
The Vols' captain, who posted the best regional outcome by a UT man since Zach Sabatino took third in 2005, covered the 10,000-meter course in a personal-best 30 minutes, 27.24 seconds to card his best individual placing at this meet en route to the third All-South Region nod of his career. He was 17th a year ago with his previous best mark of 30:49.27 and came in 25th as a sophomore.
The top four individuals not on the top two finishing teams automatically qualify for the NCAA Championship meet, so Spooner just missed that threshold as the fifth individual to cross the line. He does, however, have a shot at an at-large bid and will await Sunday's announcement to find out whether he'll head to Terre Haute, Ind., for the national meet on Nov. 22.
"Mike has put himself on the bubble to make the national meet," UT Men's Cross Country Coach George Watts said of Spooner, who duked it out with a lead group of about 15 runners for most of the race. "He ran a strong and competitive race against some of the best in the South and is deserving of making the NCAA Championship meet."
Alabama tallied 30 points and Florida State, whose Ciaran O'Lionaird was the individual winner in 30:03.34, accumulated 55 to grab the top two spots and earn automatic bids to the NCAA meet. Florida was third with 76, followed by Tennessee in fourth with 150. Georgia rounded out the top five with 157 points.
The Gators will need the NCAA committee's help with an at-large invitation if they are to extend their campaign. That turn of events could push Spooner up on the consideration list and into a national berth. His Vols, it appears, are not in solid position to get one of the 13 at-large team nods for Terre Haute.
Chipping in to help Tennessee achieve its best region finish since also taking fourth in 2006 was junior Chris Bodary, who joined Spooner on the 25-member All-South Region squad with a 23rd-place (22nd scorer) effort in a personal-record time of 30:55.41 in his third regional meet appearance. Chris Rapp was 10 runners behind in 33rd (30th), navigating the layout in a career-best 31:31.14 as the Big Orange's third scorer in the 147-runner field.
True freshman Jake Rainey and redshirt freshman Daniel Tobin filled the same team roles they held at the SEC meet two weeks ago, both charting PRs. Rainey ran fourth for Tennessee and placed 43rd (37th) in 31:50.20, while Tobin was 62nd (51st) in 32:23.96.
Also running for the Big Orange but not scoring were junior Tom Gilmartin in 66th (54th) at 32:27.94 and senior Steve Fassino in 69th (56th) at 32:32.15. Both of those marks were career bests as well.
"The guys competed hard throughout the race, and they have nothing to be ashamed of," Watts said. "Our plan was to go out and qualify for the NCAA Championships, and if we came up short, we at least went for it with everything we had. We did that, and unfortunately we came up a little bit short.
"It was good to beat the SEC teams we beat at the conference championship meet a couple weeks ago. I feel good about us being consistent and doing that today."
MEN'S TEAM RESULTS (TOP 10): 1. Alabama 30; 2. Florida State 55; 3. Florida 76; 4. Tennessee 150; 5. Georgia 157; 6. Chattanooga 193; 7. Mississippi 219; 8. Belmont 236; 9. Kennesaw State 244; 10. Mississippi State 277.
VOL INDIVIDUAL RESULTS: 11. (10.) Michael Spooner 30:27.24!; 23. (22.) Chris Bodary 30:55.41!; 33. (30.) Chris Rapp 31:31.14!; 43. (37.) Jake Rainey 31:50.20!; 62. (51.) Daniel Tobin 32:23.96!; 66. (54.) Tom Gilmartin 32:27.94!; 69. (56.) Steve Fassino 32:32.15!.
HOOVER, Ala. -- For the fifth time in six races this season, University of Tennessee freshman Amber Zimmerman led the way for the Lady Vols. This time, she checked in 46th of 186 runners as her squad finished 18th on Saturday at the NCAA South Region at Veterans Park.
Zimmerman, the product of Knoxville's Webb School, handled the 6,000-meter course in a career-topping readout of 21 minutes, 33.01 seconds to help UT tally 489 points. Florida State captured the team crown with 24 points, followed by Florida (67) and Vanderbilt (102). Georgia, aided by an individual triumph from Kristie Krueger (19:52.93), placed fourth at 137, with Mississippi State (196) rounding out the top five in a 25-team field.
Contributing to the cause for the Big Orange were junior Chanelle Price, who was 91st (85th) in 22:24.36; junior Elizabeth Tiller, who was 124th (115th) in a career-best 22:59.39; sophomore Ally Colvin, who was 129th (120th) at 23:04.21; and junior Elizabeth Altizer, who placed 137th (127th) in 23:15.61.
Running but not scoring were sophomores Andrea Ferri (147th/136th, 23:33.84) and Ramzee Fondren (152nd/141st, 23:37.62). Ferri's time was her PR.
"Amber had her best race of the season and ran a really good time for a freshman," UT Director of Track & Field and Women's Cross Country Coach J.J. Clark said. "She led our team the entire race, and I am very proud of her accomplishments this season.
"As a team, we put a better effort together today than we did last time out at the SEC Championships. Most importantly, everyone is healthy."
WOMEN'S TEAM RESULTS (TOP 10): 1. Florida State 24; 2. Florida 67; 3. Vanderbilt 102; 4. Georgia 137; 5. Mississippi State 196; 6. UAB 206; 7. Alabama 239; 8. Mississippi 270; 9. Lipscomb 283; 10. Samford 294; 18. Tennessee 489.
LADY VOL INDIVIDUAL RESULTS: 46. (42.) Amber Zimmerman 21:33.01!; 91. (85.) Chanelle Price 22:24.36; 124. (115.) Elizabeth Tiller 22:59.39!; 129. (120.) Ally Colvin 23:04.21!; 137. (127.) Elizabeth Altizer 23:15.61; 147. (136.) Andrea Ferri 23:33.84!; 152. (141.) Ramzee Fondren 23:37.62.