Sept. 23, 2004
The level of competition will be greater and the race distance farther, as the 19th-ranked University of Tennessee women's cross country team competes in its second meet of the 2004 campaign. The Lady Vols travel to the New Balance Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, Pa., where they will enter a field of 40 teams in a 6,000-meter race at 10:45 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday.
The Big Orange women, winners of the season-opening Mel Brodt Invitational on Sept. 11, will move from a 5K distance to a 6K affair this weekend. They will also compete against a substantially larger and more challenging field, one that includes five other ranked foes. Those squads include No. 8 Princeton, No. 10 Villanova, No. 13 Columbia, No. 15 Georgetown and No. 27 Yale. SEC opponent Auburn is also expected to be among the long list of programs gracing Lehigh University's Goodman Campus course on the first weekend of autumn.
"There will be some good teams at the meet this weekend, but we aren't concerning ourselves with who is there and who isn't," Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "The idea is to get used to running the 6K distance and develop better fitness in order to run well at the conference and national meets later in the season."
Clark will travel a squad of six to eastern Pennsylvania, as UT attempts to improve on a third-place finish at the meet in 2003. The Lady Vols return four athletes who ran in the event a year ago, including seniors Elizabeth McCalley (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Brooke Novak (Kaukauna, Wis.), junior Megan Cauble (Knoxville, Tenn.) and sophomore Katie Flaute (Dayton, Ohio). Cauble was UT's top finisher at the Paul Short Run last season, taking seventh in 21:06.11. Novak wasn't far behind, placing ninth in 21:12.90.
Novak, a three-time All-SEC and two-time NCAA All-South Region performer, is making her season debut and should join Cauble and sophomore Felicia Guliford (Gallup, N.M.) to form a talented top three for Team Orange. Guliford was the top collegiate finisher, and Cauble was second, at the Mel Brodt Invite two weekends ago, registering career-best efforts of 17:32 and 17:45, respectively, for 5K.
Attempting to push that troika and score in the fourth and fifth positions for the Lady Vols will be Flaute, McCalley and senior Nicole Cook (Petersburg, Va.). McCalley was fourth for Tennessee at the opener, while Cook did not score. Flaute, meanwhile, will be making her first appearance in 2004. She was UT's number-five contributor during the squad's postseason run in 2003.
"We chose to go there (Lehigh) because we like the course and this meet, and last year was a good barometer for that," Clark said. "It's a fair and challenging course that has hosted NCAA meets and regionals. We just want to put it on the line on Saturday, come back home and keep building for the rest of the season."