Oct. 13, 2005

After winning its first three cross country meets of the season, Tennessee faces its biggest test to date Saturday morning at the Pre-Nationals Invitational in Terre Haute, Ind. The Volunteers join a field of 73 of the nation's finest men's teams seeking a preview of the LaVern Gibson Championship Course, the site of the Nov. 22 NCAA championship.

Interest is so high for the Pre-Nationals Invitational that the massive field will be divided for a blue race at 11 a.m. and a white race to follow at 11:40 a.m. Tennessee will compete in the blue race to open the day's full slate of activity. Two collegiate 6K women's races follow in the same fashion. An 8K open race for men will be held at 1:30 p.m. A women's 6K open race concludes the day's competition at 2:10 p.m.

"This meet marks the beginning of the championship part of the cross country season," head coach George Watts said. "We'll have our first true test Saturday running against several ranked teams. Our guys are excited and anxious to get to the line and see where they stand fitness-wise after a three-week training segment."

Watts sends Andy Baksa, Jeff Day, Tyler DeVault, Ben Lukowski, Dusty Miller, Matt Piccarello and co-captain Zach Sabatino to don the orange in the Pre-Nationals blue race. Tennessee joins 32 other squads in the blue race field. The competition will be plenty stout as 11 of the 32 squads are ranked in the Mondo NCAA rankings conducted by the U.S. Cross Country Coaches Association. Ranked teams competing in the blue race include No. 4 BYU, No. 5 Stanford, No. 10 Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, No. 12 Georgetown, No. 17 Florida State, No. 18 Ohio State, No. 21 Indiana, No. 22 Dartmouth, No. 23 N.C. State, No. 28 Kansas and No. 29 Virginia. SEC rival Georgia is also set to race.

In addition, Tennessee has entered five runners in the open race at 1:30 p.m. Ed Davis, co-captain Matthew Lapp, Chris Platt, Kenny Schappert and Steve Tobin are scheduled to compete for Tennessee in the open race, though there will be no team score for the Vols.

The Pre-Nationals course covers 8K, though 2,000 meters will be added to the NCAA championships course to measure 10K. The LaVern Gibson Championship Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center previously hosted the NCAA championships in 2002 and 2004. The 8K course features a loop design and offers a challenging layout on rolling terrain. Colorado's Jorge Torres holds the 8K course record with a 23:34.8 time to win the white race at the Pre-NCAA Meet on Oct. 19, 2002.





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