Oct. 1, 2004
MARYVILLE, Tenn. -- University of Tennessee senior Brooke Novak set a Lady Vol 5K course record and claimed her first meet win since 2001 to spur the 10th-ranked UT women's cross country team to victory Friday evening in the Tennessee Invitational at Lambert Acres Golf Club.
The Lady Volunteers, running with a limited lineup, tallied 26 points to narrowly hold off a gutsy effort by Chattanooga and win for the third time in as many meets in 2004. The UT women are now 48-0 on the campaign and opened a year with three-straight victories for only the third time in school history. The other occasions were in 1989 and 1998.
Chattanooga, which was paced by runner-up and third-place finishers Shannon Wommack (17:28.95) and Lanni Marchant (18:06.47), accumulated 29 points to give Team Orange a strong challenge. Alabama A&M, meanwhile, was a distant third with 83 points.
"The objective was to win, and the important thing is that we did that tonight even with two of our key performers (Felicia Guliford and Elizabeth McCalley) taking this weekend off from competition and another (Katie Flaute) having been sick this week," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said of his squad's nail-biter against the in-state and NCAA South Region foe.
Novak, from Kaukauna, Wis., shattered her year-old UT mark on the 5K course by clocking in at 17:16.96 to win for the first time since claiming her collegiate debut at the Mountaineer Invitational in Boone, N.C., back on Aug. 31, 2001. The three-time All-Southeastern Conference performer bettered her previous record of 17:39.20, which she set at the 2003 Tennessee/adidas Invitational. Novak's readout also ranks number two all-time in the Tennessee Invite record books and is the fifth-best 5K ever logged on the course in the seven seasons UT has been hosting meets at Lambert Acres.
Her victory didn't come without a fight from Wommack, who stayed right on Novak's heels throughout the first mile of the hilly, 3.1-mile Blount County course. The UT senior began to pull away slightly on mile two, however, and by the third and final mile, Novak's endurance and speed were too much for the Chattanooga standout to match. Wommack cruised into the finish chute in second place, about 12 seconds back of the winner, and charted the seventh-best 5K performance ever at the course.
Joining Novak in the scoring column for the Orange and White were junior Megan Cauble (Knoxville, Tenn.), who was fourth in 18:13.53; and sophomore Katie Flaute (Dayton, Ohio), who was sixth in a career-best 18:19.15 despite lingering effects from an illness this week. Rounding out the scorers were juniors Carly Matthews (Winston-Salem, N.C.) and Mindy Sullivan (Lubbock, Texas), taking seventh and eighth, respectively, in 18:34.14 and 18:42.08. Redshirt freshman Leslie Treherne (Chesapeake, Va.) and sophomore newcomer Robin Mortel (Brooklyn, N.Y.) did not score but finished 17th and 18th, respectively, in 21:51.53 and 22:26.95.
"We were a little sluggish, but Chattanooga also ran a good race," Clark said. "I knew Katie was still feeling the effects of her illness this week, and Mindy and Carly didn't run their typical races. That left the door open for Chattanooga, no question.
"On a positive note, I have a lot of respect for what Brooke Novak did today. She ran extremely well and smashed her career best and Lady Vol course record. She has stepped up and is clearly leading the charge for our team."
Novak and company will be back in action in two weeks, as they travel to Terre Haute, Ind., for the Pre-NCAA Meet on Oct. 16. The 11 a.m. Eastern time 6K race will take place on the same course that will host the 2004 NCAA Championship race on Nov. 22. The Lady Vols took 28th at the 2002 NCAA meet in Terre Haute during the first year of the J.J. Clark era.