Chattanooga, bolstered by Lanni Marchant's individual victory in 18 minutes, five seconds, grabbed third with 81 points, followed by Louisville (104), Belmont (109), Georgia State (119), Austin Peay (223), VMI (228), Bryan (280), Tennessee State (283) and Maryville (300).
Tennessee's victory, its sixth in the eight-year history of the meet, came against the largest field of teams (11) in the competition's existence. Several of the squads will return again to Lambert Acres on Nov. 11, as UT plays host to the NCAA South Regional meet for the first time since 2002.
"I wanted to see what we had today and have them start packing together well," Lady Vol Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "Approximately 36 seconds between the five is not a bad start. More important than the spread, I liked how some of them looked out there today.
"The course is very challenging, but I was content with what we did. We came out of it with a good solid effort and a win."
Individually, the Lady Vols were paced by senior Felicia Guliford, who participated in her first regular-season home meet since her rookie season in 2002. The product of Gallup, N.M., covered the 5000-meter distance in 18:13 to place third of 84 runners on a beautiful day that featured temperatures in the low 80s. It marked the fourth consecutive race in which Guliford ran that she led Tennessee to the finish line.
She (Guliford) did a good job for us," Clark said. "We know that she's been in good shape, and we feel that she'll continue to get in better condition in the coming weeks. It's exciting to see her back out on the course, and getting the team used to running with each other."
Senior Katie Flaute, who led the squad in the season-opening meet at Belmont two weekends ago, nabbed team runner-up honors on this day. Her readout of 18:24 was good for fourth-place overall. Defending meet champion Sarah Bowman wasn't far behind her orange-clad teammates. The sophomore clocked in fifth overall at 18:27.
Tennessee got help in the No. 4 and No. 5 holes from a pair of freshmen. Rose-Anne Galligan supplied a seventh-place performance in 18:47, while Jackie Areson crossed the line ninth in 18:49 to close out the scoring. Lady Vol sophomore Katie Van Horn and rookie Kelly Parrish just missed contributing, as they logged finishes of 10th and 11th, respectively, in 18:51 and 18:52.
Also running for the home team were sophomore Rolanda Bell, who took 27th in 19:38, freshman Phoebe Wright, who was 35th in 20:13 and Kimarra McDonald, who finished 61st in 22:46.
Bowman and Flaute were the early leaders in the race, as they came through the first mile mark ahead of Marchant and eventual runner-up Tarah McKay of Louisville. Areson and Guliford were holding down the fifth and sixth positions at that point.
When the lead pack reached the second mile marker, though, McKay and Marchant were jockeying for the lead, with Flaute, Guliford and Bowman giving chase about five seconds back. As it turned out, Marchant would prevail and provide the Mocs their first individual champ in the history of the Tennessee Invitational.
The Lady Vols, now sporting a 20-1 record after two meets in 2006, will next see action at 2:45 p.m. on Sept. 29, when they travel to Bethlehem, Pa. , for the 6000-meter Paul Short Run at Lehigh University.
TENNESSEE RESULTS: 3. Felicia Guliford (18:13); 4. Katie Flaute (18:24); 5. Sarah Bowman (18:27); 7. Rose-Anne Galligan (18:47); 9. Jackie Areson (18:49); 10. Katie Van Horn (18:51); 11. Kelly Parrish (18:52); 27. Rolanda Bell (19:38); 35. Phoebe Wright (20:13); 61. Kimarra McDonald (22:46).
TEAM RESULTS: 1. Tennessee (28); 2. Georgia Tech (77); 3. Chattanooga (81); 4. Louisville (104); 5. Belmont (109); 6. Georgia State (119); 7. Austin Peay (223); 8. VMI (228); 9. Bryan (280); 10. Tennessee State (283); 11. Maryville (300).