Berry Qualifies for NCAA Nationals at Region Meet
Senior Chris Berry (r) with Dr. Mike Jones.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. --- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior distance runner Chris Berry (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) placed eighth at the NCAA South Region Championships Saturday morning at the Harry Pritchett Race Course earning all-region honors and a trip to Terre Haute, Ind., for the NCAA National Championships to be run at the end of the month.

Berry ran the 10-kilometer course in a time of 31:24.9 to lead the Mocs to a ninth place finish at the championships. Sophomore Lucas Cotter (Collierville, Tenn.) ran the course in a time of 31:52.7 placing 26th overall and was named to the All-Region Second Team. He ran the course in a time of 31:52.7

Florida State was the men's overall winner followed by Florida. Both teams earned automatic bids to the NCAA and Berry was one of four individual qualifiers for the Nationals. The Mocs were just five points out of seventh place finishing with 263 points behind both Kennesaw State and Mississippi.

"The guys ran awesome!" UTC Head Coach Bill Gautier said. "I'm proud of them. For Chris this was a great way to end five years of hard work. It couldn't have been scripted any better."

Berry has had a tough run through his senior season. Despite getting hit by a car during a training run and suffering through injuries, he never missed a race and pulled the Mocs through.

Sophomore Mark Cole (McKenzie, Tenn.) was injured following the Southern Conference race and hasn't run since. He placed 51st with a time of 32:57.4.

"Mark gutted it out," Gautier said. "He ran hard. If he was 100 percent we may have done better, but I couldn't be more proud of his effort.

"And Drew Austell (Memphis, Tenn.) was great. He runs the 400 in track and stepped in this season to help the team and has done a great job for us."

Nathan Wanuch (Mississauga, Ontario) placed 55th for the Mocs with a time of 33:03.0 while Austell was the fifth UTC runner across the finish line with a time of 34:47.1 in the 123rd spot.

Florida State's David Forrester paced the field with a top place time of 30:43.3 followed by teammate Michael Fout in second at 30:46.0. Middle Tennessee's Justus David was third and the top individual qualifier with a time of 30:51.5 followed by Florida State's Brendan O'Neill in fourth. Florida's Mark Parrish was the fifth runner across the line with Kennesaw State's Nabil Hamid sixth,

Senior Tara Gietema (Knoxville, Tenn.) led the Lady Mocs around the 6-kilomter course placing 83rd in her senior year with a time 22:46.4.

"Tara has been a great leader for this team," Gautier said. "She's the only runner out there for the women with any experience and they have all worked really hard this year."

The Lady Mocs were down a runner with Sarah White-Woerner (Ooltewah, Tenn.) unable to compete Saturday morning. Freshman Keeley Stewart (Winchester, Tenn.) was the second Chattanooga runner across the line in a time of 24:12.7 followed by junior Morgan Buchanan (Johnson City, Tenn.) with a time of 24:22.5.

"I really wanted Keeley to get experience out there today and I think she ran well. It was a long race for her and she pushed and did a good job," Gautier said.

Junior Mary Cumbee (Brentwood, Tenn.) finished with a time of 24:55.5 and Jenna Nicks crossed the line in a time of 25:45.2 as the fifth scoring runner.

Berry will close out the cross country season Monday, November 21 at the NCAA National Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., at the Gibson Championship Course.

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