Oct. 16, 2008
The Tennessee cross country team travels to Terre Haute, Ind., to compete in the annual Pre-Nationals on Saturday. The meet is hosted by Indiana State University and is held at the Wabash Family Sports Center.
The Vols, ranked No. 5 in the South Region, will run in the Blue Race, which features 41 teams including nationally-ranked Oklahoma State, Alabama, Michigan, Florida State, Minnesota, N.C. State, Northern Arizona, Providence, William & Mary, California, Syracuse and Cal-Poly.
"Pre-Nationals gives us the opportunity to run against a national field, and you never know what to expect in a field of more than 250 runners," Tennessee head coach George Watts said. "One thing is for sure: it will be different than any race we've contested this season. We have a chance of going up against some of our conference and regional foes, so it will be good to know where we stand with those teams as we head into the SEC and NCAA competitions."
Tennessee will send seven runners to the start line led by seniors Andrew Press and Steve Tobin. Those two Vols and sophomore Michael Spooner have been the Vols leaders early in the season, but have not run since the Colonial Inter-Regional Challenge on Sept. 27.
"Those guys have continued to work hard over the past two weeks, just without competition," Watts said. "So we will not be completely rested, although the guys are looking forward to a competition since they have not raced in three weeks."
Five other Vols will run in the open race later in the afternoon. That group includes sophomores Stuart Chandler, Steve Fassino, Justin Hansen and David Clabo as well as freshman Axel Mostrag.
Tennessee is running in the Pre-Nationals for the fifth-straight season. The Vols' best finish there came in 2005 when future All-America Zach Sabatino led the team to a 12th-place finish with his ninth-place individual finish. Last season, the team finished 26th with Press as the top individual finisher in 72nd place.
"Course familiarity will be a big plus for us," Watts said. "Most of the guys racing this weekend have raced this course before. We hope to have the kind of improvement we had in Louisville two weeks ago."
The Blue Race is scheduled to begin at 12:10 p.m. CT, and the open race will start at 2:05 p.m.