Nov. 21, 2011
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Tennessee senior Brittany Sheffey closed out her collegiate cross country career Monday afternoon, cranking out a 44th-place finish at the NCAA Championships on a cold, gray, drizzly day at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course.
Sheffey, who was making her first-ever appearance at the national cross country meet, covered the rolling 6000-meter course in a personal-best time of 20 minutes, 33.4 seconds in a women's field that included 254 runners. That strong clocking, which was six seconds faster than her previous best as well as Sarah Bowman's All-America effort for UT in 2008, left Sheffey four places or three seconds shy of earning the All-America distinction that goes to the meet's top 40 finishers.
"I am proud of Brittany and how she came along during the season," UT Director of Track & Field/Cross Country J.J. Clark said. "She did a lot of things right today and had a monstrous second half of the race. She put herself into contention for All-America honors, and she nearly pulled it off.
"Cross country is not something that Brittany necessarily enjoys, but she knows the importance of it. She did a fantastic job of coming here and taking 44th out 254 runners. That's a solid performance for Brittany Sheffey."
Clark attributed Sheffey's success this season to the approach she has taken and the way she feels about her ability to compete.
"Her confidence level is just higher than it has been through the years, and it keeps growing and growing. That has enabled her to get through a lot of things. Of course, physically and mentally, she was in great shape. We did a lot of mental training, and that's been key."
Clark said Sheffey has made amazing progress throughout the course of the season. That fact was supported by Sheffey being the fifth SEC runner to cross the finish line today despite a 12th-place showing at the conference meet three weeks ago. She did so, too, after overtaking as many as 30 runners over the final 3000 meters of the NCAA race.
"Brittany finished ahead of several runners today that she didn't beat at the conference and regional meets or earlier this season. I am proud of her development and the way she bounced back from a redshirt season and kept improving all year long."
During her career, Sheffey was a three-time All-South Region and All-SEC selection, finishing eighth at the regional meet and 12th at the conference meet this season. The product of Bellport, N.Y., led the Lady Vols in all six team races in 2011 and contributed to the scoring tally in all 24 races she ran for Tennessee during her tenure at Rocky Top.
With a good base of cross country training within her, Sheffey will get a quick break and then resume preparations for the indoor track & field season. UT's first meet is the Kentucky Invitational on Jan. 13-14.
NOTE: Georgetown claimed its first women's NCAA cross country crown, edging Washington by eight points for the closest margin of victory since 2003. Villanova's Sheila Reid, meanwhile, captured her second straight individual title, crossing the line in 19:41.2. Wisconsin was the men's team winner, with Chris Derrick of Stanford grabbing the men's personal victory in 28:58.