Lady Vols 3rd in CC meet

Three Lady Vols positioned themselves among the top 10 individuals as the 22nd-ranked University of Tennessee women's cross country team splashed through the mud and muck to a third-place team finish Saturday morning at the 30th-annual Paul Short Invitational in Bethlehem, Pa.

Running on Lehigh University's 6,000-meter Goodman Campus Course on a cold and rainy day in Eastern Pennsylvania, sophomore Megan Cauble (Knoxville, Tenn.) set the pace for the second straight meet for the Orange and White, covering the distance in 21:06.11 to place seventh among a field of 224 runners. Junior Brooke Novak (Kaukauna, Wis.) and sophomore Carly Matthews (Winston-Salem, N.C.) weren't far behind, crossing the line in 21:12.90 and 21:17.53, respectively, to wind up in the ninth and 10th spots.

Also contributing to the 80-point UT tally were junior Elizabeth McCalley (Knoxville, Tenn.) in 22nd at 21:47.39 and senior Jessica Southers (Ashland, Ky.) in 32nd at 21:57.44. That quintet enabled the Lady Vols to wrap up the 32-team competition behind only No. 10 Georgetown and West Virginia, who went one-two with 28 and 59 points, respectively, on a trail that was soggy as well as slippery from an all-night rain and steady morning drizzle. Other Big Orange finishers included redshirt freshman Katie Flaute (Dayton, Ohio) in 38th at 22:07.38 and sophomore Rachel Zamata (Henderson, Tenn.) in 57th at 22:27.71.

Tennessee, which ran without potential scorers senior Lindsay Hyatt (Auburn, Calif.) and sophomores Felicia Guliford (Gallup, N.M.) and Mindy Sullivan (Lubbock, Texas), placed in the top 10 ahead of James Madison (193), No. 13 Villanova (230), Penn (235), Cornell (241) and No. 17 Penn State (288) as well as Maryland ''B'' (290) and Navy (314). It should be noted that Villanova and Penn State, like the Lady Vols, did not enter some of their ''A-list'' runners. In fact, the Nittany Lions sent what they consider their top group to the adidas Notre Dame Invitational on Friday and notched a third-place effort.

''This was a higher quality meet than the one in Alabama two weeks ago, and I thought we responded by running better as a team,'' UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. ''I was content with the packing of our first six runners, who finished within just over a minute of each other. There is still room for improvement from everyone, though.''

One Lady Vol who continued to demonstrate her marked improvement over her 2002 rookie campaign is Cauble, who reprised the team-leader role she uncorked two weekends ago at the Crimson Classic Invitational. The second-year performer from West High School, who was chosen SEC Female Cross Country Athlete of the Week on Sept. 22 following that effort, was typically Tennessee's third or fourth finisher as a freshman.

''Megan Cauble had a great day,'' Clark said. ''She was in there mixing it up with the number-one runners from some top-10 teams. I thought she and the rest of our group stepped it up pretty well today and met the challenges presented by both the weather and our opponents.''

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