Oct. 28, 2006
BATON ROUGE, La. - University of Tennessee sophomore Sarah Bowman and senior Katie Flaute turned in all-league performances at the Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championships Saturday morning, but those efforts weren't enough to help extend the 15th-ranked Lady Vols' three-year streak of league titles. Fourth-ranked Arkansas placed all five of its scoring runners among the top six finishers to end the Big Orange spree and win its 11th overall SEC cross country trophy.
The Lady Razorbacks, led by individual victor freshman Brooke Upshaw with a time of 20 minutes, 14.90 seconds, tallied 17 points to claim victory for the first time since 2002 with the second-lowest point total in meet history. No. 20 Georgia accumulated 64 points to take second and relegate the defending champion Lady Vols to third place with 66 points. No. 17 Florida came in fourth at 100, followed by Mississippi State (162), Kentucky (172), Vanderbilt (226), Alabama (240), LSU (250), Auburn (251), South Carolina (302) and Mississippi (368).
"We have had more positive things than negative things happen for us this year, but today we were beaten by a better team," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "We needed Felicia (Guliford) to be in her normal position, and she wasn't. That hurt.
"Pretty much, besides that, we ran pretty tough. Leah Soro was a baller. She got it done for us without racing much previously this season."
Bowman (Warrenton, Va.), who collected All-SEC honors for the second straight season, covered the soggy 6,000-meter Highland Road Park Course in a season-best 20:23.09 to finish seventh of 108 runners after running in second place behind UA's Christine Kalmer, and then Upshaw, for most of the race. Flaute (Dayton, Ohio), meanwhile, navigated the trail, soaked by all-day rain on Thursday, in 20:38.8 to place 12th and collect all-conference accolades for the third straight season. Flaute's clocking was also her fastest of the year.
"Sarah ran courageously, and I was very happy to see her perform that way," Clark said. "She is starting to realize her talents, and she is getting closer to running up to her potential. That's exciting.
"Katie has been a highlight this season and a staple of this cross country team, no question about it. She came through today as she typically does. We are very fortunate she's here and providing the kind of leadership she does.
Freshman Jackie Areson (Delray Beach, Fla.) was Tennessee's third scorer, finishing in 15th (scored in 14th) in 20:42.65. The clocking was a career best, and she filled a spot in Team Orange's scoring five for the fifth time in as many races this season. Sophomores Katie Van Horn (Glendora, N.J.) and Soro (Knoxville, Tenn.), meanwhile, filled the four and five positions. Van Horn was 16th (15th) in a career-topping 20:43.71, while Soro, running only her second race of the season, placed 20th (18th) in 21:01.80, her best readout of 2006.
Also competing but not scoring were freshman Rose-Anne Galligan (County Kildare, Ireland), who was 27th in a personal record 21:18.58; Guliford (Gallup, N.M.), who placed 32nd as a senior in a season-best 21:25.56; sophomore Rolanda Bell (Laurelton, N.Y.), who finished 36th in a PR readout of 21:41.34; freshman Kelly Parrish (Ocala, Fla.), who wound up 46th in 21:59.94; and freshman Phoebe Wright (Signal Mountain, Tenn.), who came in 93rd in 23:57.33.
"I am focusing more on the positives," Clark said. "I was very happy for Katie Van Horn. She ran tough, as did Leah and Jackie. "Of the people scoring for us, we had Flaute, then three sophomores and a freshman."
The Lady Vols will return to Knoxville tonight and turn their focus toward the NCAA South Regional Championships, which UT will host on Nov. 11 at the Lambert Acres Golf Club in Maryville, Tenn. The top two teams at that meet automatically advance to the NCAA Championship meet, and Tennessee's women will be striving to win their fifth straight regional crown and automatically qualify for the NCAA meet for the fifth time in as many seasons.
"We have to get ready and regroup, because if we don't we are going to be staying home from the NCAA meet," Clark said. "We are going to go home, reboot, get it together and make sure that everyone performs at her best in two weeks."