Palmer, Taylor pace cross country teams in Sewanee Invitational

SEWANEE, Tenn. -- Senior Tiffany Palmer led the Tennessee Tech women's cross country team to a fifth place finish and junior Sam Taylor set the pace for the men's team to place sixth at the Sewanee Fall Cross Country Invitational, held Saturday morning at the Sewanee Golf Course.

Palmer, the most experienced runner in the lineup for coach Tony Cox's women's team, placed 12th individually while leading the Golden Eagles to a 6-4 record in the season opener with the sixth place finish among 11 teams in the field. The senior from Cleveland, Tenn., covered the 5K course in 20:00.82.

Taylor, a sophomore from Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., cross the line in 11th place in 27:03.29 in the 8K event as the Tech men were 6th among 11 teams for a 5-5 record.

"Overall I'm happy to have that first meet behind us, and give our freshmen a chance to see what it's like to run in college," Cox said. Five of Tech's 13 runners Saturday were rookies.

In the women's race, Mississippi State captured the team title with five of the top 10 runners, led by Renee Masterson who finished in 17:57.66. Her time was two seconds off the course record set last year by Tech's Stephanie Place, which still stands. Austin Peay, the only other Ohio Valley Conference school in the meet, placed seventh.

"Tiffany started a little slowly, then kept improving her place as the race went on," Cox said of Palmer's efforts in the race. "She was somewhere around 20th after the first mile, so she ran a pretty smart race."

Traci Jones, a sophomore from Aiken, S.C., was Tech's next finisher, taking 31st place in 20:51.97. Another veteran, senior Amanda Simmons from  Woodstock, Ga., was third for Tech in 34th place with a time of 21:04.73.

Three freshmen rounded out Tech's lineup, led by Morgan Taylor from Johnson City, Tenn. She placed 36th in 21:10.42. Kathryn Forbes was 48th in 22:14.26, while Courtney Koehl ran a 24:37.93 for 62nd place.

"I thought Morgan (Taylor) had a good race," Cox said. "She looked strong."

Mississippi State also won the men's team title. Austin Peay placed seventh, one spot in back of the Golden Eagles.

"Sam (Taylor) ran a great race," Cox said. "He started conservatively and then just passed people the entire race. All the work he did this summer is going to pay off for him this year."

Freshman Chris Bishop from Morristown, Tenn., was second for the Tech men's team, finishing in 18th place in 27:24.93.

"Chris looked strong and ran a really smart race," Cox said. "He really impressed me the way he handled running in his first collegiate race."

Senior Joseph DeLorenzo was 28th in 27:59.01, followed by senior Peter Woerner in 37th place (28:45.91), freshman John Greene in 54th place (29:44.06), sophomore Daniel Flatt in 56th place (29:54.13) and senior Jarrad Read in 57th place (30:01.92).

Tech has next weekend off, then returns to action on Sept. 19 at the Vanderbilt Invitational.