Michael Spooner will run in his first NCAA meet on Monday.
Nov. 19, 2010
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- After leading the University of Tennessee in all five of his races this season and in 11 of past 13 starts, senior Michael Spooner will go it alone on Monday, as he runs his final college cross country race at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.
Spooner, a team captain from Springfield, Va., is UT's lone male or female qualifier for the meet, which will be hosted by Indiana State University at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center. The women's 6K race will take place at 12:08 p.m. Eastern time, followed by the men's 10K competition at 12:48 p.m.
A live webcast of the championships will be broadcast from noon to 1:30 p.m. ET on NCAA.com. Additionally, highlights from the championships will be included as part of the CBS NCAA Fall Seasonal Show scheduled to air on Dec. 18 from 1 to 2 p.m. ET on CBS HD.
The UT harrier, who is making his first-ever NCAA appearance, was one of only two men nationwide awarded at-large individual bids to the meet. UT's first male national cross country qualifier since the whole team made it in 2005, Spooner will take part in a competition that includes 31 teams and a total of 255 runners traversing the rolling 10,000-meter layout in a city whose name in French means "high ground."
"Mike has worked very hard to reach his goal of qualifying for his first NCAA Championship," UT Men's Cross Country Coach George Watts said. "He has steadily improved throughout his career and has been very consistent in SEC and NCAA Regional races."
Spooner qualified for the meet by virtue of his performance at the NCAA South Regional meet on Nov. 13, where he finished a career-best 11th at the meet in a personal-record 10K time of 30 minutes, 27.24 seconds. He was the fifth individual finisher of those runners whose teams didn't qualify for the NCAA meet and received word of his at-large invitation Sunday evening from the NCAA committee.
A three-time All-South Region and All-SEC honoree, Spooner will attempt to close out his collegiate cross country career by becoming the fourth Vol in the Watts era and the 18th male UT harrier all-time to garner All-America accolades. The last Vol to earn national distinction (the 23rd overall All-America citation for the program) was Zach Sabatino, who finished in 23rd place in 2005.
"In addition to his finishes at the league and region meets, Mike has been equally as impressive in his performances at the bigger invitationals," Watts said. "He has shown that he is capable of accomplishing his goals for Monday's race.
"Mike will need to win many individual battles throughout the competition to be successful, but there's no doubt in my mind that he is ready for one more great race."
The qualification by Spooner marks the ninth time Watts has produced either a team or individual qualifier during his 16-year stint as men's cross country coach at UT. Watts was himself an All-American at this meet back in 1977, when he finished 15th.
Live NCAA Championships Video http://www.ncaa.com/allaccess/index.html?media=212485
NCAA Championships Information/Results http://www.ncaa.com/sports/c-xc/champpage/c-xc-div1-index-2010.html