Nov. 19, 2001
GREENVILLE, S.C.-- Tennessee's cross country team capped its best season since 1998 with a 30th-place finish at the NCAA Championships Monday morning in Greenville, S.C. On a sun-splashed fall day, the Volunteer contingent accumulated 722 points in a 31-team field on the hilly 10K Furman University Golf Course carved into the foothills of the Appalachians.
Junior captain Ryan Demers set the pace for the Vols, as he has in each of the six races in which he ran this season, through the pine-lined fairways with his 48th-place, 30:19 finish, the best by a Vol since Doug Ellington took 36th in 1998. Demers just missed garnering All-America acclaim by five spots. While Demers, Pat Gildea and Scott DeFilippis peaked for season-best times, the loose spread between Tennessee's first and fifth finishers and the top-flight field proved detrimental to Vol hopes of moving upward in the team standings. Additionally, none of the Volunteers had ever participated in the NCAA Championships before Monday.
"Although we are disappointed with our overall team performance, we should not let this race take away from a very successful season," cross country coach George Watts said. "We improved as a team over last year and also had some good individual gains, as well. As far as the race is concerned, Ryan did another good job of leading the team in just missing All-America honors by five places. As a team, we will better know what to expect next year when we are hopefully put in this same setting. We met the majority of our goals we set this year, and, with our team returning intact next year, we hope to step it up to the next level."
Colorado's 90 points proved good enough for a razor-thin win over Stanford to highlight a thrilling team race. In fact, the Buffalos defeated the Cardinal by a lone point, with the finish-line tape of all 244 men's participants being analyzed for more than two hours before the results were declared official. The individual race wasn't nearly as close as Eastern Michigan's Boaz Cheboiywo routed the field with a course-record time of 28:47, seven seconds faster than the previous record and 19 seconds faster than runner-up Jorge Torres of Colorado. One of Cheboiywo's strongest challengers, Alabama's David Kimani, dropped out of the race running with the lead pack just before the two-mile mark with a flare-up of an Achilles injury.
Demers nabbed 48th in 30:19, a 44-second improvement since the last time he ran the 10K Furman course in 1999 as a Clemson Tiger and 36 seconds faster than his South Region time on Nov. 10. "I felt strong the whole way," Demers said. "I came in hoping to get top 50. At this point in my career, that's a good goal for me. Granted, I didn't get All-America, but it was a good race and a good year for me. Overall, we were a little disappointed in the outcome of the nationals. This has been a really good year considering our expectations, and we even did a little better than other people's expectations."
Pat Gildea stepped up to finish second for the Vols, his highest finish within the Tennessee pack this season, by clocking a 31:51, six seconds faster than his best 10K time of the year, to take 180th. Likewise, Scott DeFilippis enjoyed his strongest race of the championship season by arriving third for the Vols in 200th place in 32:06 to trim seven seconds off his South Region performance. Tim Kelly followed in 211th place with a 32:24 clocking. Steve Klein broke the tape in 32:39 to finish 220th and put the wraps on Tennessee's scoring five.
Rob Cloutier finished 230th with a 32:58 effort. Matthew Lapp bookended the Volunteer pack with a 239th, 33:23 timing. Lapp's trip down the finish chute marked the end of Tennessee's 2001 cross country campaign. Under Watts' tutelage, the Vols almost always bettered expectations in a season where they were picked to finish fourth in the SEC and took a strong third and ranked fourth in the South Region but gamely finished second to earn a NCAA berth. The Vols now turn their attention to the indoor track season which begins in January.
1. Colorado 90, 2. Stanford 91, 3. Arkansas 118, 4. Northern Arizona 193, 5. Wisconsin 245, 6. Notre Dame 248, 7. Portland 273, 8. Villanova 282, 9. N.C. State 293, 10. Providence 294, 11. Michigan 364, 12. Brigham Young 368, 13. Oregon 389, 14. Duke 410, 15. Georgetown 419, 16. William & Mary 420, 17. California-Santa Barbara 432, 18. Michigan State 449, 19. Wake Forest 450, 20. Arizona State 477, 21. Arizona 486, 22. Colorado State 491, 23. Butler 529, 24. Dartmouth 548, 25. Minnesota 584, 26. Air Force 620, 27. Nebraska 661, 28. Texas 679, 29. Alabama 681, 30. TENNESSEE 722, 31. Oklahoma State 729.
INDIVIDUAL VOL FINISHES
48. Ryan Demers, Tenn. 30:19, 180. Pat Gildea, Tenn. 31:51, 200. Scott DeFilippis, Tenn. 32:06, 211. Tim Kelly, Tenn. 32:24, 220. Steve Klein, Tenn. 32:39, 230. Rob Cloutier, Tenn. 32:58, 239. Matthew Lapp, Tenn. 33:23, 244. Tim Owen, Butler 35:23.