MARTIN, Tenn. – Senior Amanda Wardlaw and freshman Justin Morgan were named the Most Valuable Runners for The University of Tennessee at Martin’s 2012 fall cross country season, head coach Gordon Sanders announced.
A Somerville native, Wardlaw led the Skyhawk women’s squad in all six meets this past fall. She advanced to the NCAA South Regionals in Tallahassee, Fla. last month and finished with a season-best 6k time of 22:58.5.
“From the slowest walk-on in my coaching career to No. 4 on the university all-time list in 18 months says it all about Amanda,” Sanders said. “That is nine minutes of improvement in her 5k time. Her attitude was just as positive when she was fourth-from-last at her first competition as it is being No. 1 on the team now. Wanting to know what her best could be, she keeps building up her training loads as fast as her body can handle it. It is unfortunate that this new athlete is now a senior.”
Morgan stepped right in and made an immediate contribution to the UT Martin men’s team. The Cookeville native led the team in three competitions – including the first two of the season – and posted a season-high 8k time (26:35.83) in the Ohio Valley Conference Championships in late October.
“Justin did not break a 17-minute 5k until his senior year in high school but he came in with as much a summer’s training as any on the team,” Sanders said. “The result was a couple of personal bests this fall and a UT Martin all-time No. 14 slot – not bad for a freshman. Balancing all of his training to college racing required a shift in priorities, but Justin is very coachable and made those changes quickly.”
The Skyhawks begin their track portion of the schedule on Feb. 2 at the Tennessee State Invitational in Nashville.