Amber Zimmerman has paced UT in its first two races this season.
Sept. 30, 2010
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The University of Tennessee men's and women's cross country teams return to action on Friday morning, as they compete in their third meet of the season. The Vols and Lady Vols are slated to run in the Brooks Paul Short Run at Lehigh University's Goodman Campus Course in Bethlehem, Pa.
The Lady Vols will face No. 1 Villanova, No. 6 Georgetown and No. 16 Virginia, among others, in the equally-as-large women's 6,000-meter "Gold" field. The Vols, meanwhile, will compete in the 8,000-meter men's "Gold" race at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. Among the more than 40 schools slated to be on hand are ranked foes No. 12 Iona, No. 22 Virginia, No. 23 Princeton, No. 24 Georgetown and No. 28 William & Mary at 11:45 a.m. ET.
The Lady Vols will be making their 10th trip to Bethlehem and ninth visit to the Brooks Paul Short Run (the other trip was for 1983 NCAAs). The UT women were ninth a year ago, with now departed senior Jackie Areson notching a third-place finish. Returnees who competed there last season include Brittany Sheffey (14th, 20:39), Ramzee Fondren (234th, 23:14), Elizabeth Tiller (251st, 23:35) and Elizabeth Altizer (266th, 24:05).
UT's men, meanwhile, are making their first appearance at the Brooks Paul Short Run but fifth trip to Bethlehem. The Vols competed in the 1979, 1983, 1984 and 1993 NCAA Championship meets hosted by Lehigh.
"The Paul Short Invitational gives us an opportunity to run against some ranked teams for the first time this year," UT Men's Cross Country Coach George Watts said. "I am not so concerned about how we place against those teams as I am with how we execute our race plan.
"I look for the guys to have another solid team effort. The key to our success will be determined by our top five scoring spread. If we can achieve a spread similar to what we had at the Commodore Classic, then we will be competitive on Friday."
The Lady Vols, who have run without top returnees Brittany Sheffey and Chanelle Price this season, are coming off a sixth-place team finish at the Commodore Classic and were seventh at the Belmont-VU Opener two weeks before. Freshman Amber Zimmerman has stepped forward as the squad's leader thus far, taking 35th in her college debut and improving to 17th in her second competition. Junior Elizabeth Tiller and sophomore Ramzee Fondren have taken turns holding down the second and third positions so far this season.
As for the Tennessee men, they have produced spreads of 38.11 and 35.21 seconds in their first two meets, garnering runner-up team honors at the 5K Belmont-VU Opener on Sept. 3 and claiming victory at the 8K Commodore Classic on Sept. 18. Freshman Jake Rainey (6th overall) and senior Michael Spooner (3rd overall) were the Vols' top runners in weeks one and two, respectively. Senior Peter Sigilai, who led UT at two meets a year ago, will make his 2010 debut on Friday, adding to a veteran lineup that looked sharp in Music City two weekends ago.