March 8, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia senior sprinter Torrin Lawrence and men’s sprints coach Jon Stuart were honored as the top South Region performers in their respective categories by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) at the Idaho Center in Nampa, Idaho, on Thursday night.
Lawrence was named the USTFCCCA South Region Men’s Track Athlete of the Year for the third time in four years while Stuart was named the region’s Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year for the first time in his career on the eve of the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Seventy-two student-athletes and coaches were honored at the banquet. The winners of the men/women’s track athlete, field athlete, assistant coach and head coach awards from all nine Division I regions nationwide were announced and received their awards.
Lawrence, a Jacksonville, Fla., native won the second Southeastern Conference indoor 400-meter dash title of his career on Feb. 26, giving the Bulldogs three of the last five championships in the event. He clocked the nation’s fastest time this year as well as the world’s second-fastest time on an oversized track in 2012 (46.01) during the SEC prelims.
This marked Lawrence’s third SEC indoor title overall after also winning the 200 crown as a freshman. In addition, he recorded a split of 45.9 to lead Georgia to a school record in the 4x400 relay (3:06.97, No. 10 on current national performance list) and a runner-up finish at this year’s SECs.
Lawrence was named the 2010 USTFCCCA National Men’s Track Athlete of the Year in addition to garnering the honor of the 2009 and 2010 South Region Men’s Track Athlete of the Year.
Stuart is in his 13th year with the Bulldogs as the men’s sprints, hurdles and relays coach. His sprinters scored 23 of Georgia's all-time high 85.5 points at the 2012 SEC indoor meet to place third. Stuart recruited Lawrence and has been his coach since his career began in 2009.
During that span, Lawrence has racked up three SEC titles, three All-American certificates and three school records in addition to setting a new collegiate record in the 300 (32.32) and recording the fourth-, fifth- and seventh-fastest 400 times in collegiate indoor history.
Stuart also guided sophomore Waymon Storey, who is on this season’s 4x400 relay team, to clock a 21.12 in the 200 this season (Lawrence has also clocked the same time in 2012 and holds the school record at 20.77). Eight of the top 10 indoor 4x400 times and seven of the top 10 outdoor 4x400 times in school history have been clocked under Stuart’s watch during the last nine years. He has helped his alma mater jump to 14th in the current national rankings.
Stuart is the first Bulldog coach to earn a regional honor since throws coach Don Babbitt received the award in 2009.
Lawrence, Stuart and the other Bulldogs and coaches traveled to the NCAA Indoor Championships on Wednesday. Competition starts on Friday and runs through Saturday.