Head Coach J.J. Clark expects to send out nearly his entire lineup this weekend, with the exception of Knoxville sophomore Leah Soro, who will debut at the Paul Short Run on Sept. 29, and freshman Alyssa Bryant (Andersonville, Tenn.). That means there should be 11 Big Orange women in action Friday in a field of more than 105 runners.
Defending meet individual champion and 2005 All-SEC honoree Sarah Bowman will be among the competitors. The sophomore from Warrenton, Va., who will be making her 2006 debut on Friday, claimed last year's race in 17 minutes, 50 seconds. That mark was the fourth-fastest 5K time ever recorded on the course by a UT woman, and it helped Bowman become the first Lady Vol harrier since 1976 to win her first two races as a collegian.
She will be joined by seniors Katie Flaute (Dayton, Ohio) and Felicia Guliford (Gallup, N.M.), who are both two-time All-SEC recipients. Flaute paced Tennessee at the Belmont Opener on Sept. 1, cranking out a career-best 4K readout of 14:06.80 to place fourth at that meet and lead the pack from Rocky Top to a second-place team finish.
She was the runner-up at last year's Tennessee Invitational in 18:09 and was sixth in 2004. Guliford, meanwhile, will be running in her first regular-season home meet since taking fifth in the event as a freshman in 2002. She was UT's team MVP a year ago and is a three-time All-South Region performer.
A trio of rookies will bear watching during the course of the race, as they held down the two through four scoring slots for Team Orange at the Belmont Opener two weekends ago. Rose-Anne Galligan (County Kildare, Ireland), Kelly Parrish (Ocala, Fla.) and Jackie Areson (Delray Beach, Fla.) turned in overall finishes of sixth (14:18.66), eighth (14:25.69) and 12th (14:32.81), respectively, in their collegiate debuts and provided evidence that they will be freshmen of impact for Clark's squad.
Also in the mix will be sophomore Katie Van Horn (Glendora, N.J.), who was Tennessee's fifth scorer and the 29th finisher overall at the Belmont Opener, as well as sophomores Rolanda Bell (Laurelton, N.Y.) and Kimarra McDonald (Lumberton, N.J.), freshman Phoebe Wright (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) and junior Leslie Treherne (Chesapeake, Va.).
The Lady Vols will be aiming for their sixth title in eight Tennessee Invitationals. Team Orange won the event in 1998, 2002, 2004 and 2005 and tied for the crown in 1999. No event was held in 2001, so 2000 and 2003 are the only seasons UT did not claim its own meet.
The home team will also be seeking to boast the individual winner for the sixth time. Previous Big Orange victors include Bowman in 2005, Brooke Novak (2004), Sharon Dickie (2000, 2002) and Maureen Ferris (1998).
A meet recap and results will be available after the meet at www.utladyvols.com and www.tenntrack.com.