Nov. 16, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The University of Tennessee women's cross country team got some news it didn't want to hear Sunday night. The Lady Vols learned they would not be among the 31 teams competing in the NCAA Championship meet in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 24.
UT had finished third at the NCAA South Regional in Maryville on Saturday morning, but that finish was not enough to earn the Big Orange its sixth NCAA bid in head coach J.J. Clark's seven years in Knoxville. The Lady Vols, instead, finish the season with a 101-14 won-lost record, marking the fifth straight season the women from Rocky Top have eclipsed the 100-win plateau. They had never accomplished that feat prior to Clark's arrival.
"I knew it was going to be difficult to get an at-large bid," Clark said. "It is a very complicated process on how the committee makes those decisions. From what I could ascertain, we were the first team out. Considering what we've been through this year, we did well and feel fortunate to have two individuals going to the meet."
As Clark mentioned, the Tennessee program will be represented at the meet by senior Sarah Bowman (Warrenton, Va.) and junior Jackie Areson (Delray Beach, Fla.), who earned automatic berths on Saturday by virtue of their finishes among the top four individuals not on automatic qualifying teams. Bowman, who placed second in the NCAA South Regional, will be making her first individual trip to the national meet after joining the whole UT squad at the NCAA Championships in her first two seasons in Knoxville. Areson, meanwhile, went as part of the Lady Vol team in 2006 and will be making her second overall trip to the NCAA competition. She finished 11th at the regional meet.
"I am very proud of Sarah and Jackie for making the meet automatically by their performances on Saturday. I look forward to a great run from both of them in Terre Haute."
The women's national championship race will be held at 12:05 p.m. Eastern Time at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course. Indiana State University is the host school.