Head coach J.J. Clark
Aug. 6, 2004
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - J.J. Clark's University of Tennessee women's cross country team will take aim at a third-straight NCAA South Region trophy and a second-consecutive Southeastern Conference title when it opens the 2004 season on the road on Sept. 11.
The Lady Volunteers, who return 10 letterwinners and three All-SEC performers from a squad that posted a school-record 99-31 slate in 2003, will begin Clark's third year at the helm with a trip to Bowling Green, Ohio, on the second Saturday in September for the Mel Brodt Invitational. The 5,000-meter race is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Eastern Time.
Following a 14-day break from competition, the Big Orange will make a return engagement to the Paul Short Invitational in Bethlehem, Pa., on Sept. 25. The Lady Vols, who were third of 32 teams a year ago, will line up at 10 a.m. ET for the 6K race at Lehigh University's Goodman campus.
Friday evening, Oct. 1, will feature the team's one and only appearance at home in 2004. The Lady Vols and Vols will join in playing host for the Tennessee Invitational at Lambert Acres Golf Club in Maryville. The women's 5K competition is slated to get underway at 5:45 p.m., while the men's 8K affair is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. on the beautiful course that lies in the shadows of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Leading the charge for the home team will be senior Brooke Novak (Kaukauna, Wis.), a three-time All-SEC performer who last season charted the Lady Vol 5K record at the Lambert Acres course. Fellow all-league harriers Megan Cauble (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Mindy Sullivan (Lubbock, Texas) and NCAA All-South runners Elizabeth McCalley (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Felicia Guliford (Gallup, N.M.) should highlight a strong returning cast.
With a 15-day break from racing under its belt, UT will head to Terre Haute, Ind., for a preview of the LaVern Gibson championship course at the Wabash Family Sports Center, site of the 2004 NCAA Championships. The Pre-NCAA Meet on Sat., Oct. 16 will feature the nation's best programs and will offer the Lady Vols a chance to return to the trail where they finished 28th at the 2002 national meet.
Next up, a trip to Fayetteville, Ark., where Tennessee will attempt to repeat as league champion on the home course of 10-time SEC victor Arkansas on Sat., Oct. 30. In 2003, Clark led the Orange and White to its third conference title in program history and its first since 1990. With two titles at Florida (1996 and 1997) and one at Tennessee last season, Clark is the only coach besides UA's Lance Harter to win an SEC team title since the Lady'Backs joined the conference prior to the 1991 campaign.
Two weekends later, Clark and company head to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the NCAA South Regional on Sat., Nov. 13. Having won the past two South Region trophies, including one on its home course in Maryville, Tenn., and the one last year in Auburn, Ala., UT will attempt to win a program-best third-consecutive region championship and its second-straight in the Heart of Dixie. Such a feat, or at least a top-two team finish, would ensure the Lady Vols a trip to the NCAA Championship meet for the third year in a row.
In that case, Tennessee would be running on familiar turf when they head to Terre Haute again on Mon., Nov. 22. The Lady Vols would have prior experience on the NCAA course, having competed there earlier in the slate on Oct. 16 as well as at the 2002 national championship meet. UT would be attempting to improve upon a 24th-place performance in 2003.
"We hope to add a little more quality to the schedule with the Paul Short Invitational and the Pre-NCAA Meet," Clark said. "That gives us two very challenging meets, along with the Mel Brodt Invitational and Tennessee Invitational, before we head to the conference championship. The Pre-NCAA Meet gives us an opportunity to run the course prior to the NCAA meet. We've all seen the course before when we ran in Terre Haute at the 2002 NCAA meet, but it can only help us to familiarize ourselves with it once again prior to the 2004 national championship race.
"We have a lot of scorers returning this season. We lose Lindsay Hyatt as one of our scorers, but we get Felicia Guliford back at full speed. Everyone else is improved, so we should be a better team."
2004 University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer Cross Country Schedule
|Sept. 11||Sat.||Mel Brodt Invitational||5K||Bowling Green, Ohio||9 a.m. ET|
|Sept. 25||Sat.||Paul Short Invitational||6K||Bethlehem, Pa.||10 a.m. ET|
|Oct. 1||Fri.||Tennessee Invitational||5K||Maryville, Tenn.||5:45 p.m. ET|
|Oct. 16||Sat.||Pre-NCAA Meet||6K||Terre Haute, Ind.||TBA ET|
|Oct. 30||Sat.||SEC Championships||6K||Fayetteville, Ark.||TBA CT|
|Nov. 13||Sat.||NCAA South Regional||6K||Tuscaloosa, Ala.||TBA CT|
|Nov. 22||Mon.||NCAA Championships||6K||Terre Haute, Ind.||TBA ET|