Nov. 14, 2009
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Senior Jackie Areson earned her second straight national championship bid, running to third-place honors and pacing the Tennessee women's cross country team to third place, as well, Saturday morning at the NCAA South Regional at Harry Pritchett Running Park.
Areson matched her third-place effort at the SEC meet two weekends ago with another one today, covering the 6,000-meter layout in 20 minutes, 20.06 seconds to garner All-South acclaim for the third time in her career. She was 10th at the meet in 2006 and 11th a year ago. With her presence among the top four individual finishers not on the two automatic qualifying teams, she earned a trip to Terre Haute, Ind., for the NCAA Championships on Nov. 23.
"Jackie ran a very comfortable race," Lady Vol Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "She was in the race to win it, and she put forth a great effort. As far as the NCAA bid, we were expecting her to do that this season, and we're glad she was able to make that happen."
The 29th-ranked Lady Vols, meanwhile, will have to hope for an at-large invitation to the NCAA meet after taking third with 102 points. Third-ranked Florida (33) and No. 9 Florida State (54) grabbed the two automatic bids, while UT, Georgia (114) and Vanderbilt (164) rounded out the top five squads. Tennessee found itself in this position a year ago and was passed over by the NCAA committee. Clark hopes for a different outcome in 2009.
"A lot goes into determining the at-large bids," Clark said. "I believe we are one of the top (31) teams in the country, and we are hopeful we'll get the opportunity to go to Terre Haute."
Senior Katie Van Horn also will pin her hopes to receiving an at-large invite after crossing the finish line 10th in a career-best 6K time of 20:34.69 for her third appearance on the All-South Region Team. Van Horn, who was 11th at this meet in 2007 and eighth in 2006, finished fifth among individuals not on the top two squads, just one spot out of automatically joining Areson for the trip to Terre Haute.
"I'm not sure what Katie's chances are to make the field as an individual," Clark said. "It varies from year to year, in terms of who they take and from which regions. I'm going to stay optimistic about it."
Junior Brittany Sheffey was Tennessee's third representative on the All-South Region squad, earning her second straight recognition after placing 20th in 20:59.93. She was 23rd in 2008.
Rounding out UT's scoring five were sophomore Chanelle Price (32nd, 21:32.27) and senior Phoebe Wright (46th, 21:56.11). Also competing but not scoring were senior Michele Levy (21:59.72) and sophomore Elizabeth Tiller (104th, 23:13.99).
"As a group, we ran well today," Clark said. "Jackie ran a great race, and Katie was pretty locked in and ran a personal best. Chanelle Price gave a great effort with a PR, and Michele Levy and Elizabeth Tiller gave it everything they had."
WOMEN'S TEAM SCORES: 1. Florida 33, 2. Florida State 54, 3. Tennessee 102, 4. Georgia 114, 5. Vanderbilt 164, 6. Auburn 197, 7. Alabama 208, 8. UAB 297, 9. Jacksonville 311, 10. Georgia Tech 323, 11. North Florida 335, 12. South Florida 337, 13. Mississippi State 340, 14. Belmont 359, 15. Samford 367, 16. Chattanooga 415, 17. Georgia State 439, 18. Southern Miss 457, 19. Lipscomb 487, 20. Miami 543, 21. Ole Miss 577, 22. Troy 586, 23. Jacksonville State 637.
LADY VOL INDIVIDUAL FINISHES: 1. Rebecca Lowe, Florida 20:03.29, 3. (3.) Jackie Areson 20:20.06, 10. (9.) Katie Van Horn 20:34.69, 20. (18.) Brittany Sheffey 20:59.93, 32. (30.) Chanelle Price 21:32.27, 46. (42.) Phoebe Wright 21:56.11, 54. (49.) Michele Levy 21:59.72, 104. (94.) Elizabeth Tiller 23:13.99.