Sept. 29, 2005
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- University of Tennessee Head Coach J.J. Clark is poised to become the all-time winningest cross country coach in Lady Vol history, but his focus will be on helping his 15th-ranked squad try to defend its team title Saturday at the Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, Pa.
Clark, who enters the meet with a sparkling 292-91-1 mark in his fourth season at the helm of the Big Orange ship, needs his unit to defeat 14 teams in order to surpass Lady Vol Hall of Famer Terry Crawford (303-76-1 from 1974-83) for most victories in program annals. UT claimed the team trophy a year ago by topping 34 schools, and there are 58 teams entered this time around. Those kinds of participation numbers lend to Clark easily advancing to the top of Team Orange.s coaching ranks on Saturday.
Clark.s more immediate concern is getting his team to run well in a meet where there will be three other ranked squads (No. 8 Villanova, No. 20 Columbia and No. 26 Georgetown) as well as a bevy of other competitive schools. In 2004, Felicia Guliford helped pace Tennessee to victory on the 6,000m (6K) Goodman Campus Course, charting a 10th-place finish in a field of 241 runners. In 2005, the junior from Gallup, N.M., will make her season debut at the Lehigh University-hosted meet.
The 2004 NCAA All-South Region and All-SEC performer, who led Tennessee to the finish line in four of her six races last season, will significantly bolster a lineup that notched a victory in its last outing at the Tennessee Invitational (Sept. 16) and a runner-up effort at the Belmont Opener (Sept. 2). Freshman Sarah Bowman (Warrenton, Va.) has been filling the bill as the team.s pacer in her first two meets, becoming the first UT freshman in 29 years to win her initial two college meets.
Bowman's classmate, Leah Soro of Knoxville, has had an equally impressive freshman campaign thus far. The West High School graduate has posted third-place individual finishes at both the Belmont Opener and Tennessee Invitational, scoring in the second and third positions, respectively, for UT in those events. Junior Katie Flaute has joined Bowman and Soro among the Big Orange.s top three scorers on each of those occasions. The Dayton, Ohio, native crossed the line eighth at Belmont and utilized a 5K career-best clocking to grab overall runner-up honors at the home meet.
Filling the number four and five positions for UT in the first two meets have been seniors Carly Matthews (Winston-Salem, N.C.) and Mindy Sullivan (Lubbock, Texas). Matthews was 13th at Belmont and improved to fifth at the Tennessee Invite, while Sullivan was 30th and eighth at those races. Rounding out the travel squad this weekend are freshmen Rolanda Bell (Laurelton, N.Y.) and Kimarra McDonald (Lumberton, N.J.), who were the Lady Vols. sixth and seventh finishers in the initial pair of meets.