Cross Country Vols Prepare For SEC Championship

Oct. 27, 2001

Tennessee's cross country squad joins its league brethren for the Southeastern Conference Championships at Indian Pines Golf Course in Auburn, Ala., Monday morning. The Volunteers must prepare to run their last 8K race of the season with a slightly different strategy as the field of 10 SEC teams (Mississippi State and South Carolina don't field cross country teams) will be considerably smaller than the 30-team fields of the last three races.

"We are excited about the opportunity to compete in the SEC Championship," cross country coach George Watts said. "I'm confident we will improve on last year's performance as a team and potential All-SEC performers. Although our SEC squad boasts no seniors, we are more experienced than last year's team. We are familiar with the championship course and we had a good run on it earlier in the season. We will only concern ourselves with executing our race plan and having the best run possible."

Juniors Rob Cloutier, Scott DeFilippis, Ryan Demers and Pat Gildea and sophomores Tim Kelly, Keith Kimmons and Steve Klein join freshman Matthew Lapp to comprise the Tennessee travel squad. The top five Vol finishes count toward the team score.

Tennessee endured a tough time of it at the 2000 SEC Championships. The Vols struggled to a seventh-place, 163-point finish with only Marcus Tanner earning All-SEC honors. Watts does plan on an improvement this year.

Indeed in Tennessee's only similar-size field of the season, at the UTC Invitational Sept. 7, the Vols took fourth with 78 points. Additionally, Tennessee took fifth in an earlier appearance at Indian Pines Golf Course at the Auburn Invitational Sept. 29.

"This team has done everything I have asked of them," Watts said. "They have remained focused on what their specific goals are as individuals and as a team. We have five guys representing Tennessee in their first SEC cross country championship, and that is a great position to be in. The opportunity to don the orange and white and run alongside such Tennessee cross country greats as Alf Holmberg(SEC champion in 1950 and 1951 and second at the NCAAs in 1951), Ed Murphey (SEC champion in 1956) and Todd Williams (three-time All-America in 1988, 1989 and 1990 and SEC champion in 1989 and 1990), just to name a few, will be an exciting moment in their running career. How well they do during those 25 minutes of competition will be determined by their heart and desire."





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