The Tennessee men’s cross country team hosts the Ohio State Buckeyes in an 8K race, which serves as Tennessee’s only home meet of the year, on Friday at Lambert Acres Golf Club in Maryville.
“This race shapes up to be an old-fashioned dual meet,” head coach George Watts said. “Ohio State will present a very tough challenge for us. Our course is one of the tougher layouts in the country. We’ve looked at previous years results and how we might stack up against some of our former UT runners. Part of our race strategy will be based on that knowledge. Although we have a few nagging injuries we expect to run most of the team.”
Tennessee, ranked fifth in the South Region, sends four upperclassmen, three sophomores and three freshmen to the starting line. Junior Denton Jones leads the Vols after his 10th-place overall finish at the season-opening Covered Bridge Open two weeks ago. Matt Piccarello is the only senior scheduled to run for the Vols after placing third on the team in the first race of the season. Juniors Andrew Press, who was second on the team in his first race after transferring from William & Mary, and Steve Tobin, who scored fourth on the team, wrap up Tennessee’s upperclassmen representation this weekend.
Freshman Michael Spooner competes after earning the fifth scoring spot for Tennessee at the Covered Bridge Open. Sophomores Chris Rapp and Chris Kane placed sixth and seventh, respectively, on the team in the first race of the season and look to use experience gained from last year to master the Lambert Acres course. Sophomore Michael Brodsky rounds out the Tennessee competitors with experience on this course. Freshmen David Clabo and Steve Fassino, who makes his Tennessee debut this weekend, complete the Vols squad.
Watts owns a career record of 21-8 in dual meets and is 7-0 since 2004. This year’s race marks the first 8K race at Lambert Acres since 2004, when the Vols finished second at the Tennessee Invitational. Last year, the UT Invitational covered 8.4K in preparation for the 10K South Regional that the Vols hosted later in the year. In 2005, the UT Invitational was a 7.3K race.
The men’s race is scheduled to start at 6:15 p.m. Eastern Time following the women’s 5K race at 5:30.