Nov. 22, 2004
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- It was not the kind of day Head Coach J.J. Clark envisioned for his University of Tennessee women's cross country team. While the Lady Vols improved three spots over last year's national result, their 21st-place team performance at the NCAA Championship meet on Monday morning was not in line with the goals he had set for a squad that otherwise will go down as one of the best in school history.
Ranked 14th heading into the 31-team national meet at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course, the NCAA South Region and Southeastern Conference champion Big Orange women were unable to live up to that ranking and their coach's expectations despite NCAA career-best efforts from sophomores Felicia Guliford and Katie Flaute, and senior Elizabeth McCalley. The Lady Vols, in their 11th overall and third-straight visit to the national meet, were hard-pressed to overcome the loss of junior Megan Cauble early in the race and a difficult day for senior Brooke Novak.
Running on a 6,000-meter course softened by overnight and early-morning rains, Guliford led the UT charge for the fourth time this season, covering the distance in 21 minutes, 45.5 seconds to cross the line in 81st position (53rd in terms of team scoring). The Gallup, N.M., product, who redshirted last year, made a huge 165-spot improvement over her 246th-place finish as a freshman in 2002.
Flaute was the next orange-clad runner to hit the chute, checking in 97th (68th) with a time of 21:53.7. The Dayton, Ohio, native registered an impressive 81-position advancement from her 178th-place finish of a year ago. McCalley also produced her best-ever national meet finish, notching a 125th-place (93rd) run of 22:13.3. That topped her 2002 result of 155th and last year's 250th outcome.
Running in her first NCAA Championship meet, junior Carly Matthews was the next Lady Vol to finish the race, doing so in 22:34.4 to take 169th (134th). It marked the fourth time she had counted toward the team's tally in 2004, and she matched her fourth-place role on the squad at the SEC Championships.
Novak, meanwhile, concluded her collegiate cross country career in different fashion than she had hoped. The Kaukauna, Wis., native rounded out the scoring five for Tennessee with a 175th-place (140th) performance of 22:38.8, marking the second meet in her last three where she was unable to fill her customary spot at the front of the Lady Vol pack.
Junior Mindy Sullivan and Cauble did not factor into the team scoring. The squad's sixth finisher, Sullivan had her best NCAA result with a 192nd-place (156th) outing of 22:53.8, while Cauble dropped out of the competition only 300 yards into the race. Clark did not elaborate on the reason.
Tennessee, which finished 28th and 24th at the 2002 and 2003 NCAA meets, respectively, wraps up its 2004 campaign with a school-record win total of 121 vs. 25 losses. That tally bested the 2003 victory total of 99 and gave Clark a three-year record of 279-90-1 at Tennessee. He now ranks second in UT cross country history behind only 10-year coach and Lady Vol Hall of Famer Terry Crawford (303-76-1).
Lady Vol NCAA Finishes: 81. (53.) Felicia Guliford (21:45.5), 97. (68.) Katie Flaute (21:53.7), 125. (93.) Elizabeth McCalley (22:12.3), 169. (134.) Carly Matthews (22:34.4), 175. (140.) Brooke Novak (22:38.8), 192. (156.) Mindy Sullivan (22:53.8), DNF Megan Cauble. (team scoring point total in parentheses)
NCAA Women's Team Finishes: 1. Colorado (63), 2. Duke (144), 3. Providence (164), 4. Notre Dame (170), 5. Stanford (175), 6. Michigan (246), 7. Villanova (277), 8. Brigham Young (293), 9. Arizona State (333), 10. North Carolina (336), 11. Missouri (346), 12. North Carolina State (364), 13. Columbia (365), 14. Michigan State (372), 15. West Virginia (388), 16. Arkansas (400), 17. UC Santa Barbara (410), 18. Princeton (417), 19. Wake Forest (434), 20. Illinois (443), 21. Tennessee (488), 22. Southern Methodist (519), 23. Washington (533), 24. Georgia (583), 25. Idaho (607), 26. Colorado State (635), 27. UCLA (640), 28. Marquette (650), 29. Baylor (675), 30. Indiana (700), 31. Butler (859).