Taylor, Palmer named Most Valuable on cross country teams

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Sam Taylor and Tiffany Palmer have been named the Most Valuable Runners on the 2009 Tennessee Tech cross country teams, and several other team awards were also announced recently by Golden Eagle coach Tony Cox.

A junior from Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., Taylor paced the Golden Eagle men’s team in six of seven meets during the 2009 season. Palmer, a senior from Cleveland, Tenn., was Tech’s highest finisher in every meet.

On the men’s team, in addition to Taylor’s honor, Peter Woerner was named Most Dedicated, Ben Shassere Most Improved and Chris Bishop captured the Rookie/Impact Award. Jarrad Read was selected as team captain.

For the women’s team, Palmer was also named team captain in addition to her MVP award, Traci Jones earned Most Dedicated, Amanda Simmons the Most Improved, and Kathryn Forbes the Impact Award.

Taylor was Tech’s frontrunner in six of seven meets, posting a season-best 8K time of 26:49.94 in the TTU Invitational when he placed sixth overall. He was among the Top 15 runners in every meet during the regular season, then placed 16th at the OVC Championships.

“Sam had a great season and got very close to making the all-conference team,” said Cox. “He is very consistent and smart in the way he races.”

Woerner, a senior from Knoxville, wrapped up his cross country career with the Most Dedicated award. He was Tech’s top finisher at the Evansville Invitational, and was second on the team in three other events.

“Peter put in a lot of hard work last summer, which paid off in the fall,” Cox said. “He ran a lot of miles this year and was very strong all season long. Peter is a brilliantly smart young man and knows what it takes to be the best. He set an example to the rest of the team which will help raise the bar for those who follow. He is very respected by his teammates for his work ethic.”

The Most Improved went to Shassere, a junior from Oak Ridge, Tenn. He finished fifth on the team in his first meet, then moved up to fourth and third, before placing second on the squad in a season-best time of 27:09.85 at Evansville.

“Ben continued to improve throughout the season,” Cox said. “He was consistent and had solid performances in every race. Ben is quickly becoming a team leader and continues to work hard to get better every year.”

Bishop, a hard-running freshman from Morristown, Tenn., was the team’s top rookie and won the Impact Award. He was second on the team in his first collegiate meet, posting his season-best of 27:24.93 at the Sewanee Invitational.

“Chris burst on the scene this year with the fastest time on the team in our early season time trial. He followed that up with some great results in the meets,” Cox said. “He is a hard worker and a high mileage guy. He learned a lot this year about what it takes to run at the collegiate level, and he has a bright future with this team.”

A senior from Knoxville, Jarrad Read was selected team captain. He ran in all seven meets and continually improved his finish on the squad in every meet.

“Jarrad has been our team leader all year. His maturity and leadership has gained the respect of his teammates and coach,” Cox said. “He is a hard worker and has an excellent grasp of what we are trying to accomplish here as a team. He is very supportive of the new guys on the team, and expects everyone to work hard every day at practice. His leadership has helped raise the bar for this cross country program.”

Palmer was not only the Most Valuable member of the women’s team, she was also chosen team captain. She ran off a string of six straight top finishes for the Golden Eagles, and was among the top eight individual finishers three times. That includes a seventh place showing at the OVC meet to earn first-team all-OVC honors. Her career-best time was 19:27.14 at the Evansville Invitational.

“Tiffany had a great season this year,” Cox said. “She led the team in every meet and earned first-team all-conference honors at the end of the season. She puts in a lot of miles and continues to work hard to improve. She is finishing up her college career as one of the best runners in school history.”

Palmer’s selection as captain was a logical choice, according to Cox.

“Tiffany was the team leader this year, both on and off the course. She led by example with her training load, and encouraged the other women on the team to work hard. Tiffany had a lot of academic responsibilities this fall, but she continued to focus on her training and it paid off at the conference meet,” Cox said.

The Most Dedicated honor went to Jones, a sophomore from Aiken, S.C., who posted runnerup finishes on the squad in all six meets. Her best time of the year was 20:43.52 when she placed 12th overall at the TTU Invitational

“Traci finished second on the team in every meet this year. She works hard and is very dedicated to getting better every time out. She is a great teammate and is very respected by the team and coach,” Cox said.

Simmons, a senior from Woodstock, Ga., was given the Most Improved honor to cap off her final season. She was consistently third on the team, and posted a season-best time of 21:04.73 at the Sewanee Invitational.

“Amanda worked hard last summer and it paid off in the fall,” Cox said. “She continued to improve throughout the season and was a great benefit to the team. She is a hard worker and a pleasure to coach.”

Forbes, a freshman from Norris, Tenn., claimed the Impact Award in her debut season. After a fifth-place finish on the squad in her first collegiate meet, she moved up a notch to fourth in four of the next five events. Her best effort placed her third on the squad at Evansville with a career-best 22:01.78 showing.

“Kathryn had never run a cross country race until this year,” Cox said. “She ran track in high school, but did not run cross country in the fall. She learned a lot from training and competing with the team this year, and she has a great future ahead of her. Kathryn continued to improve every meet, and set goals for herself to reach. She is a great young lady and a pleasure to be around.”

The track & field team gets the 2010 indoor season underway on Jan. 30 at the Tennessee State Invitational in Nashville.