Katie Flaute leads Tennessee

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Led by senior Katie Flaute, the 24th-ranked Lady Vol cross country team turned in its finest performance of the season Saturday at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course. Tennessee defeated six ranked schools en route to a seventh-place finish in the 37-team "White Race" at the ISU Pre-Nationals Invitational.

With 91 women's teams on hand for a competition that is contested on the same 6,000-meter course that will host the NCAA Championship meet on Nov. 20, three different races were hosted by Indiana State University. The Lady Vols tallied 291 points to grab seventh place in the "White Race" and perhaps earned themselves a bump in the next United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll.

Fifth-ranked North Carolina State, fueled by an individual victory from Julia Lucas (20:01.4), claimed the team title with 117 points. No. 3 Michigan and No. 9 Wisconsin tied for second with identical totals of 176, while No. 8 UC-Santa Barbara (196), No. 17 Illinois (219) and No. 2 Colorado (228) finished ahead of UT in the fourth, fifth and sixth positions.

The Lady Vols, meanwhile, earned themselves a measure of respect by topping No. 14 Washington (19th place, 456 points), No. 15 Oklahoma State (18th, 454), No. 22 Colorado State (11th, 323), No. 23 Georgetown (8th, 294), No. 27 Villanova (15th, 433) and No. 29 Butler (12th, 368).

The Big Orange women were led for the third time in four races this season by two-time All-SEC and All-South Region performer Flaute. The product of Dayton, Ohio, covered the rolling hill course in 20 minutes, 48.2 seconds to place 24th out of a field of 253 runners. It marked Flaute's fastest finish on the LaVern Gibson course in four appearances, with last year's 21:14.9 effort at the NCAA meet serving as her previous best.

Head Coach J.J. Clark's squad, which improved to 82-9 on the campaign, got season-best efforts from sophomore Sarah Bowman (Warrenton, Va.) and freshman Jackie Areson (Delray Beach, Fla.) in the second and third scoring positions. Bowman cranked out a 20:55.9 effort to place 34th, while Areson handled the layout in 21:16.2 to place 55th.

Sophomore Katie Van Horn (Glendora , N.J.) ran fourth for the Big Orange in 21:36.2 to place 86th, while rookie Kelly Parrish (Ocala, Fla. ) counted as UT's fifth scorer, crossing the line 92nd in 21:41.1. Also running but not scoring were freshman Rose-Anne Galligan in 108th at 21:47.0, with senior Felicia Guliford (Gallup, N.M.) right behind her in 109th at 21:47.6.

With only seven competitors per team allowed in the "White Race," three other Lady Vols took part in the "Open Race" later in the day. Clark got a positive response from sophomore Leah Soro, as the product of Knoxville's West High School made her season debut by finishing eighth out of a field of 226 runners in a time of 21:45.0 that would have been UT's sixth-best clocking in the "White Race."

Also running were sophomore Rolanda Bell (Laurelton , N.Y. ), who was 48th in a season-best 22:25.1, and freshman Phoebe Wright (Signal Mountain, Tenn. ), who was 178th at 23:55.4.

Saturday's meet was UT's final race of the regular season. Team Orange will now turn its attention to the championship portion of the slate. That stint will begin on Oct. 28, as the Lady Vols travel to Baton Rouge, La., to compete in the Southeastern Conference Championships at 10 a.m. Central Time.

Tennessee will be seeking to win its fourth straight league title.

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