Oct. 31, 2008
The Tennessee men's cross country team travels to Starkville, Miss., for the SEC Championships on Monday. Mississippi State University will host, and the races will be held at the Mississippi Horse and Agricenter.
Tennessee enters the race ranked No. 5 in the South Region by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The SEC coaches picked the Vols to finish fifth in the league in their preseason poll.
"The SEC meet will always be special for me as a coach and former athlete," Tennessee head coach George Watts said. "In many ways it is the most important race of the cross country season because you are guaranteed to see some of the best distance runners in the country. This year's championship will be the most competitive in recent history. We have four or five teams that could qualify for the NCAA championships."
Tennessee will send 10 runners to the start line led by senior Andrew Press and sophomore Michael Spooner. Those two runners have finished in the top three among Vols in every race they have competed in this season. Spooner was the top UT finisher at the ISU Pre-Nationals in 45th place overall, while Press earned top-five finishes in both of the team's first two races of the season.
"We have trained exceptionally well over the last two weeks," Watts said. "There has been an increase in intensity and the guys continue to do what is asked of them. I have seen improvement from the upperclassmen and our young guys have adjusted well and are right in thick of things.
"Our workouts all season long are geared towards these last three races of the season, so I feel like we can improve over our early-season races and last season's SEC race in this meet."
Tennessee placed fourth in the conference last season after being picked by the league's coaches to finish sixth. The Vols also placed fourth in 2005 and 2006.
The men's race is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. ET.