Sept. 17, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Lady Vol cross country team will join the Big Orange men's team in playing host to the Tennessee Invitational Friday evening at the Lambert Acres Golf Club course in Maryville. Race time for the women is 5:30 p.m., followed by the men's 8K affair at 6:15 p.m.
Admission is free, but the meet will be one of several UT Women's Athletics events this weekend where the 2008 SEC "Together We CAN" food drive will be taking place. Additionally, fans may bring canned goods, which will benefit Knoxville's Second Harvest Food Bank, to the soccer match at Regal Stadium on Friday night (7 p.m.), to the volleyball matches at Thompson-Boling Arena on Friday (7 p.m.) and Sunday (1:30 p.m.) and to the Thornton Athletics Student Life Center on the UT campus from Sept. 22-28.
This season marks the ninth edition of the Tennessee Invitational, with Belmont, Bryan, Chattanooga and Georgia Tech among the women's teams expected to take part. The meet will serve as an opportunity to preview the venue that will host the women's and men's NCAA South Regional meets on Nov. 15.
"It's fun to come home and run in front of our fans and get an opportunity to compete on the course that will serve as the site for the regional meets this season," Lady Vol Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "I am just looking for continued development from everyone on our team and a strong showing."
Clark's troops enter the competition seeking their seventh victory in the history of the Tennessee Invitational. The home team previously claimed titles in 1998, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006 and tied for one in 1999. No official meet was contested in 2007, as the women's race was run as a time trial, so UT will toe the line as three-time defending champion.
Individually, Lady Vols have won five individual crowns at the Tennessee Invitational. Current senior Sarah Bowman (Warrenton, Va.) claimed victory as a rookie in 2005, while Maureen Ferris (1998), Sharon Dickie (2000, 2002) and Brooke Novak (2004) also turned in first-place efforts during their careers in orange.
Bowman, whose triumphant freshman-year readout of 17 minutes, 50 seconds at this meet ranks her fourth on the UT 5K performers list for Lambert Acres, will be seeking to add a bookend title to her list of accomplishments in her final regular season appearance on this course. Additionally, she will be pursuing the fourth win of her career and trying to lead Tennessee to the finish line for the 10th time. She has paced UT in seven of her last eight races.
While Bowman will be making her 2008 debut, some of her teammates helped Tennessee to a runner-up team finish at the Belmont Opener in Nashville two weekends ago. Among them was freshman Chanelle Price (Easton, Pa.), who led the Big Orange to the finish line with an eighth-place time of 14:52.67 on the 4,000-meter Vaughn's Creek Course at Percy Warner Park. That effort enabled Price to garner Lady Vol Athlete of the Week acclaim in her first collegiate race.
Joining Price in UT's scoring five at Belmont were three veterans and another rookie. The group included junior Phoebe Wright (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) in 12th at 15:10.78, senior Rolanda Bell (Laurelton, N.Y.) in 14th at 15:14.94, sophomore Brittany Sheffey (Bellport, N.Y.) in 15th at 15:15.18 and freshman Elizabeth Altizer (Bartlett, Tenn.) in 34th at 15:41.76.
"We have a nice mixture with the youth and the seniors," Clark said. "We got a nice surprise at Belmont with Chanelle and Elizabeth. There's no pressure or expectations on anybody at this point. We'll put Sarah in this week, add some more in the coming weeks and just continue to develop and get into good shape as the season goes forward."