Oct. 17, 2008
Tennessee cross country ace Sarah Bowman shaved four seconds off her SEC-leading 6,000-meter season best to chart a fifth-place individual performance out of a field of 300 runners and pace the Lady Vols to an identical team finish Friday morning at the Penn State National.
Running on the Nittany Lions' Blue and White Golf Course on a cold, gray autumn day, Bowman cranked out a time of 20 minutes, 24 seconds to card her second straight fifth-place effort at the meet. The senior from Warrenton, Va., now has posted nine top-five performances in her collegiate career and has led UT to the finish chute on 12 occasions, including 10 of her past 12 races.
"Sarah is just getting into a rhythm now (after taking some time off after the Olympic Trials this summer), and she is getting stronger and stronger," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "She put forth another good effort today and continues to be very consistent. As a coach, that's what you are looking for."
The three-time All-SEC honoree enabled Clark's club to post its best result at the meet since taking third in 2005 and extend its season won-lost record to 71-11. The Big Orange women, who are ranked fourth in the South Region and received votes in the most recent USTFCCCA National Poll, tallied 162 points to finish behind No. 7 West Virginia (40), No. 20 Penn State (83), No. 25 Wake Forest (136) and No. 28 Duke (154) in the field of 28 squads. The Lady Vols managed to come out five points ahead of SEC foe Kentucky and out-distance the rest of the field.
"Overall, this was our best effort of the season," Clark said. "Compared to this time last year on the same course, everyone performed better. As a whole, they are showing improvement every meet, and that's what a coach is asking for from his group.
"The team has been training well and running hard. Obviously, we just need some help in the middle of the pack to get closer to Sarah. I can't complain a bit about the effort everyone gave, and I believe we'll see even better efforts from them as we head into the SEC and NCAA Regional meets in the coming weeks."
Aiding Bowman for Team Orange were junior Jackie Areson (Delray Beach, Fla.) and sophomore Brittany Sheffey (Bellport, N.Y.), who ran in the No. 2 and No. 3 positions for their team for the second straight meet. Areson produced a readout of 21:22 to finish 31st, while Sheffey covered the course in 21:27 to cross the line in 37th position. Both improved upon the times they ran on the course a year ago, with Sheffey bettering her old mark by nearly a full minute.
Closing out the scoring for Tennessee were senior Rolanda Bell (Laurelton, N.Y.), who ran fourth for her team and 46th overall in a season-best 21:45, and junior Phoebe Wright (Signal Mountain, Tenn.), who was three seconds off her PR in 21:46 to finish right behind Bell in 47th place.
Four other Lady Vols ran but did not score. In that group were freshman Ally Colvin (Maryville, Tenn.), who was 111th in 22:48, freshman Elizabeth Altizer (Bartlett, Tenn.), who was 136th in 23:06, senior Leah Soro (Knoxville, Tenn.), who was 197th in 23:54, and freshman Elizabeth Tiller (Tuscaloosa, Ala.), who was 271st in 25:17.
Tennessee is off the weekend of Oct. 25, as the team prepares for the SEC Championships on Nov. 3. This year's conference meet will be held in Starkville, Miss., on the Mississippi State University Cross Country Course. Race time is slated for 10 a.m. Central.