Oct. 16, 2004
TERRE HAUTE, Ind.
Sophomore Felicia Guliford logged a 6K career best to place 12th out of 246 runners and lead the ninth-ranked University of Tennessee women to a team finish of sixth in the "White Race" Saturday at the ISU Pre-Nationals Meet at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course.
Guliford, from Gallup, N.M., covered the rolling hill layout in 20 minutes, 55.3 seconds, to knock 20 seconds off her previous career topper, which she registered on Sept. 25 at the Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, Pa. In leading UT to the finish line for the second time this season as well as in her career, Guliford spearheaded the Lady Vols' charge to a team result of sixth out of 36 squads. With that performance at this year's Nov. 22 NCAA Championship venue, the Big Orange moved its overall record to 78-5 on the campaign.
UT's 221 points ranked it behind victorious No. 4 Colorado (94), No. 3 Michigan (109), No. 7 Arizona State (187), No. 20 North Carolina State (207) and No. 17 Michigan State (218). Rounding out the top 10 were No. 12 Villanova (236), No. 15 UC Santa Barbara (270), No. 14 Wake Forest (280) and Colorado State (340), which received votes in the most recent poll.
"I don't believe this was our best team effort, but we definitely competed and beat some good teams today," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "We ran pretty well, but we have room for improvement. I anticipate some better overall performances from this group over the next three meets."
Assisting Guliford in the scoring column for Team Orange were senior Brooke Novak (Kaukauna, Wis.) in 23rd at 21:11.6, sophomore Katie Flaute (Dayton, Ohio) in 51st at 21:36.3, senior Elizabeth McCalley (Knoxville, Tenn.) in 63rd at 21:46.9 and junior Megan Cauble (Knoxville, Tenn.) in 72nd at 21:51.3. Juniors Mindy Sullivan (Lubbock, Texas) and Carly Matthews (Winston-Salem, N.C.) also ran but did not count in the scoring total. Sullivan was 127th at 22:25.0, while Matthews was 137th at 22:32.0 on a day where winds gusted between 14 and 23 mph and made temperatures feel like they were in the low to mid-40s.
"We had some people step up," Clark said on a day where a couple of his top performers were unable to meet their usual standards. "Katie had a good day, and I am really happy to see Felicia being aggressive, looking very strong and coming through with a top-15 finish. We're in good position, and we'll continue to work hard and move forward from here."
The second-place result among her teammates snapped Novak's six-race personal string of pacing the Big Orange pack. It marked the first time she didn't lead Tennessee to the finish line since Oct. 4, 2003, when she was her squad's second scoring runner at the Paul Short Run. Likewise, Cauble saw a streak of placing among UT's top four finishers come to an end. The junior had not finished lower than fourth among orange-clad runners since taking seventh among Lady Vol harriers at the UTC Invitational on Oct. 19, 2002.
Because Tennessee had the maximum number of seven runners entered in the "White Race", senior Nicole Cook had to participate in the "Open Race." The Petersburg, Va., native navigated the 6K distance in 25:30.6 to wind up 163rd of 191 competitors.
In the 37-team "Blue Race," defending NCAA champion Stanford dominated the field en route to victory, winning by 62 points over runner-up Notre Dame. Three of UT's Southeastern Conference foes participated in that competition, with Georgia taking sixth, Florida placing 23rd and Vanderbilt settling for 29th.
The Lady Vols will face those three and the rest of the league in their next outing, as the SEC Championship meet takes place at 9 a.m. Central time on Oct. 30 in Fayetteville, Ark.