Nov. 13, 2008
The Tennessee men's cross country team will have its home course serve as the site of the 2008 NCAA South Regional on Saturday. The race will take place at Lambert Acres Golf Course in Maryville, Tenn.
"It's an honor to host a regional, and we were selected this year for the third time in seven seasons," Tennessee head coach George Watts said. "We have a great relationship with the staff at Lambert Acres and couldn't be happier with the setup. We don't have to travel and we're familiar with the course, which should be an advantage for us."
Tennessee enters the race ranked fifth in the region and needing to finish at least second to advance to the NCAA Championships. The runners charged with that task are led by sophomore Michael Spooner and senior Andrew Press. Spooner earned All-SEC honors last week at the conference meet with his 13th-place finish while Press crossed the line 19th overall.
"I expect our guys to be in the hunt for a berth in the NCAA Championships," Watts said. "We will need three or four guys finishing in the top 20, and I see Michael Spooner, Andrew Press and Steve Tobin with the ability to climb into the top 15. Chris Rapp is not far behind those guys and has made great improvement this year. Mike Brodsky and Chris Bodary both have scored for us this season, so we will need great efforts from them in order to accomplish our goals."
A top-15 finish by any Vol would secure him an individual bid to the NCAA Championships, which take place Nov. 24 in Terre Haute, Ind. But the NCAA South Regional features three of the nation's top 25 teams and many more of its top individual runners.
"Our region gets stronger every year," Watts said. "There are a good number of teams competing on Saturday that could qualify for the NCAA meet. We have a field of about 165 runners and 25 teams, which makes separating yourself or your team from the pack a challenge."
The men's race is scheduled to begin at 10:45 a.m. ET. The awards ceremony will take place at 12 p.m. Admission to the race is free.