Sept. 11, 2004


University of Tennessee Head Women's Cross Country Coach J.J. Clark has said his 2004 edition has the potential to be better than last year's SEC championship squad. His 22nd-ranked Lady Volunteers offered plenty of supporting material for that theory Saturday morning, as they opened the season with a dominating victory at the Mel Brodt Invitational.

Running without two of the team's top-five runners, Brooke Novak and Katie Flaute, the UT women tallied 26 points to easily win the 13-team meet on the 5,000-meter Forrest Creason Golf Course trail. Host Bowling Green State University was second with 66, followed by Cincinnati with 128, Indiana-Purdue University-Fort Wayne with 131 and Dayton with 160 rounding out the top five squads. Other teams included John Carroll (170), Ohio (188), Baldwin Wallace (193), Hope (198), Siena Heights (202), Findlay (210), Huntington (374) and Heidelberg (380).

Adding more credence to Clark's confidence in this team's potential was the fact that sophomore Felicia Guliford, who redshirted last season due to injuries, returned to action in very impressive fashion. The product of Gallup, N.M., finished first among all collegiate performers, and second overall behind former SEC champ Becki Wells (running unattached, 17:22), with a career-best time of 17 minutes, 32 seconds. It marked the first time Guliford had ever led the Lady Vols to the finish line and her best performance since finishing second at the UTC Invitational in 2002.

Junior Megan Cauble wasn't far behind her teammate, taking third overall in a personal-record clocking of 17:45. The squad runner-up outcome for the Knoxville native was the fourth in the past five outings for the 2003 All-SEC and NCAA All-South Region performer.

Junior Mindy Sullivan also charted a PR on the slightly rolling course, crossing the line in 18:00 to place sixth overall and third on the team. That finish among her orange-clad peers matched her production at last year's SEC Championships, where the Lubbock, Texas, native earned All-SEC distinction by placing 11th and scoring in the number-three slot for Clark's club.



Rounding out the scorers for Tennessee on a sunny, 68-degree Ohio morning were senior Elizabeth McCalley (Knoxville, Tenn.) in seventh at 18:09 and junior Carly Matthews (Winston-Salem, N.C.) in 13th at 18:28. Senior Nicole Cook (Petersburg, Va.) ran, but did not score, finishing 49th in 19:42 among a field of 155 competitors.

"The team looked very good, running without two of our key performers," Clark said. "With the ability shown today, we demonstrated we are on target toward performing well at the end of the year during the championship portion of our schedule. I am very pleased with the result.

"For Felicia Guliford to come back and open at this level is impressive, as were Megan Cauble and Mindy Sullivan with career-best efforts. Elizabeth McCalley came through in fourth for us and will be even better later in the season, and Carly Matthews was there to help secure the team victory by scoring fifth for us. We just need to continue to show steady improvement as we move toward the end of the season."

Tennessee will continue resume for the next two weeks before returning to action at 10 a.m. on Sept. 25 at the 6K Paul Short Invitational in Bethlehem, Pa.

Team Finishes: 1. Tennessee 26, 2. Bowling Green 66, 3. Cincinnati 128, 4. Indiana-Purdue University-Fort Wayne 131, 5. Dayton 160, 6. John Carroll 170, 7. Ohio 188, 8. Baldwin Wallace 193, 9. Hope 198, 10. Siena Heights 202, 11. Findlay 210, 12. Huntington 374, 13.Heidelberg 380.

Lady Vol Finishers: 2. Felicia Guliford (17:32), 3. Megan Cauble (17:45), 6. Mindy Sullivan (18:00), 7. Elizabeth McCalley (18:09), 13. Carly Matthews (18:28), 49. Nicole Cook (19:42).



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