Katie Flaute leads Lady Vols to 2nd at meet

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Running without the services of three All-Southeastern Conference performers, the University of Tennessee women's cross country team nearly pulled off a victory anyway in their 2006 debut. The Lady Vols wound up finishing second Friday evening at the Belmont Opener at Percy Warner Park.

With head coach J.J. Clark opting to hold out All-SEC returnees Sarah Bowman, Felicia Guliford and Leah Soro until the Sept. 15 Tennessee Invitational, a young UT squad tallied 58 points to wind up second behind victorious UAB (57).

Georgia Tech was third with 62, while Belmont (94), Vanderbilt (102) and Alabama (163) rounded out the top six schools in the 12-team competition. The other entrants included Lipscomb (195), Murray State (204), Austin Peay (283), Middle Tennessee (307), Alabama State (322) and Crichton (386).

Two-time all-league honoree Katie Flaute, who was previously expected to debut along with Bowman, Guliford and Soro in two weeks, was a last-minute addition to the travel squad. The senior from Dayton, Ohio, proved to be ready for duty, leading the Big Orange pack with a fourth-place overall finish in 14 minutes, 6.80 seconds on the 4,000-meter Vaughn's Creek Course. She ran 14:40.70 a year ago on this course to finish eighth.

A trio of freshmen and a sophomore aided Flaute in accumulating Tennessee's final score. Rookie Rose-Anne Galligan was impressive in her collegiate debut, logging a 14:18.66 readout to cross the line sixth out of 114 runners. Classmates Kelly Parrish and Jackie Areson weren't far behind, grabbing eighth and 12th positions in 14:25.69 and 14:32.81, respectively. The top four runners finished considerably faster than UT's top three did at this meet in 2005.

Sophomore Katie Van Horn, running in her first cross country meet as a Lady Vol after transferring from Richmond after the 2005 campaign, was 29th at 15:08.48 to fill the fifth and final scoring spot for Team Orange.

Also running but not scoring for the Big Orange were sophomore Rolanda Bell in 31st at 15:09.79, freshman Phoebe Wright in 44th at 15:37.65 and sophomore Kimarra McDonald in 53rd at 16:09.62. Bell and McDonald were 45th and 74th, respectively, a year ago in this race.

"I thought we looked good for a team that left three All-SEC athletes at home," Clark said. "We accomplished what we were trying to get out of this meet, which was to get some work in and stay healthy. It was a positive start for us."

The Lady Vols will return to action Sept. 15, as they join the UT men in playing host to the Tennessee Invitational at Lambert Acres Golf Club in Maryville.

Race times are 5:30 p.m. ET for the women's race and 6:15 p.m. for the men.

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