2006-2007 Track and Field Season Review
June 12, 2007
Returning to action after claiming Southeastern Conference indoor and outdoor titles in 2006, the Georgia women's track and field team, along with the men's squad, experienced yet another pair of banner seasons in 2007.
The Lady Bulldogs finished fourth at the NCAA Indoor Championships and ninth following the national outdoor meet, giving the team seven top-10 NCAA finishes in the last eight combined indoor and outdoor seasons (2004-07). The Bulldogs also managed a tie for 26th place at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and saw three individuals and one outdoor relay team earn All-American honors in 2007.
To go along with senior Jennifer Dahlgren's second straight NCAA hammer throw title during the indoor season, senior Patricia Sylvester captured an individual NCAA championship in the high jump during the indoor season. In addition, Georgia had 15 All-Americans during their combined seasons in 2007: Indoor - Ian Burrell - 5000-meter run, Sylvester - high jump, Levern Spencer - high jump, Dahlgren - weight throw, Natalie Picchetti - mile; Outdoor - Jill Steffens - 10,000, Dahlgren - hammer throw, Nate Rolfe - hammer throw, Spencer - high jump, Krista Woodward - javelin, Justin Gaymon - 400 hurdles, Gaymon, Michael Proctor, Brian Etelman, David Dickens - 4x400 relay and Picchetti - 1500.
Georgia wrapped up the Southeastern Conference indoor season with five champions and a pair of top-five team finishes. Thanks to league titles from Sylvester (high jump), Dahlgren (weight) and Steffens (5000), the Lady Bulldogs scored more than 100 points (103) for the second straight year and finished second. The Bulldogs saw Burrell sweep the 3000 and 5000 titles at the conference meet as they took fifth place.
Topping the school's all-time lists for Georgia during the indoor season were Spencer and Sylvester, who both cleared 6 feet, 2 ¼ inches in the high jump, Sylvester, who soared 44-7.50 in the triple jump, Dickens, who clocked a 46.27 in the 400, and Burrell, who sped to a 7:59.04 finish in the 3000 and a 13:46.97 time in the 5000.
In addition to Gaymon (400 hurdles), Dahlgren (hammer) and Woodward (javelin) winning NCAA East Region titles during the outdoor campaign, Georgia had seven individual SEC champions while combining for one of the best combined finishes in school history (third place for women and fourth for men) at the conference meet.
This time around it was Steffens who won a pair of league championships (5000 and 10,000). Also, Dahlgren captured her second hammer crown in a row, Woodward completed her conference career with four javelin titles, Spencer won a high jump championship, Gaymon cruised to the 400 hurdle title for the first time in her career and junior Sarah Madebach topped the field in the 3000 steeplechase.
The Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs also forced the school record books to be altered after the outdoor season. Madebach continued to drop the time for the No. 1 spot in the steeplechase (10:08.64), Steffens clocked a 33:21.63 in the 10,000 and Spencer cleared 6-3.50 to shatter the high jump record during one of the first meets of the season.
On the men's side, senior Sam Gillespie highlighted his final collegiate meet by breaking the steeplechase record (8:52.70) and Burrell registered a new No. 1 time in the 10,000 (28:48.78).
Another pair of Georgia records on the women's side also stretched far wider than the confines of Athens. In the women's hammer throw, Dahlgren, a Buenos Aires, native, unleashed an effort of 239-4 to leave her former school, collegiate and South American records behind at the Spec Towns Invitational. Woodward also further strengthened the reputation of the Georgia throws program after launching a top mark of 183-11 in the javelin, which was a school as well as a Canadian national record.
Individually, Georgia received numerous distinctions throughout the indoor and outdoor seasons. The U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) awarded Dahlgren with the South District as well as East Region Women's Field Athlete of the Year awards. During the indoor season, Burrell was named the SEC Men's Runner of the Year and Sylvester received the honor of being the SEC Women's Field Athlete of the Year.
For their work in the classroom and in the community, Picchetti was named the SEC Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year (with South Carolina's Natasha Hastings) and Burrell was a selection on the ESPN The Magazine 2007 Academic All-District Second Team. Also, junior Shaka Dennison and sophomore Sean Cuevo earned the distinction of being on the SEC Community Service Teams.
The Bulldog coaches were also honored for their work following the 2007 campaigns. While head coach Wayne Norton was named the USTFCCCA South District Women's Coach of the Year, assistant Don Babbitt was named USTFCCCA East Region Women's Throws Coach of the Year and assistant Dave Hartman took home the USTFCCCA East Region Men's Distance Coach of the Year honors.