Year by Year
Bulldog Cross Country Continues To Reach New Heights
The University of Georgia cross country program has proven itself to be one of the nation's most competitive programs, both athletically and academically. Patrick Cunniff, a Bulldog alum who rejoined the program prior to the 2012 season as the Bulldogs' distance coach, has continued to build the foundation to keep Georgia near the top of the ranks for years to come.
The Georgia women, who claimed the SEC Freshman of the Year award from 2002 to 2004 (Lauren Burks, Kristin Heffelfinger, Natalie Picchetti) and the 2007 and 2010 SEC Female Athlete of the Year awards (Sarah Madebach, Kristie Krueger), won their first NCAA South Regional title in 2006 after routing Florida 35-70.
Picchetti also registered the team's first All-American honor in 2007 since 1990. Krueger followed Picchetti's performance with an All-American finish of her own in 2010, giving the Lady Bulldogs four in history (Jolly Earle-1989, Keli Butler-1990) after earning NCAA South Region Women's Athlete of the Year honors.
In addition, Sarah Madebach, a two-time SEC 3000-meter steeplechase champion on the track, won the SEC individual crown to lead the Lady Bulldogs to a third-place finish at the 2007 conference meet. The Georgia women left Terre Haute, Ind., in 2006 with their top national finish after taking 15th at the NCAA meet.
Krueger complemented her 2010 SEC individual cross title by also claiming the NCAA South Regional championship that same year. After Picchetti finished 27th at the 2007 NCAA Cross Country Championships, Krueger was 28th three years later at Nationals.
The Lady Bulldogs returned as a team to the NCAA Championships in 2012 for their eighth appearance and finished 30th. This marked only the second time in school history (2004) that both Georgia squads advanced to Nationals.
The Bulldog men had their one and only All-American in 2004 when Simon Ngata finished a program-best sixth overall at the NCAA Championships. At the NCAA Regional level, the Georgia men have had 30 All-Region competitors and 21 All-SEC runners. The Lady Bulldogs have recorded 31 All-Region performers and 36 All-SEC performers in that span. In 2006, a record-breaking eight Georgia competitors were named to the men and women's All-Region teams.
The Bulldog men are in the midst of one of the most productive spans in history. UGA advanced to a school record three straight NCAA Championships from 2011-13, including the best finish in team history of 19th in 2012.
The Bulldogs automatically qualified for the third of these Nationals in thrilling fashion. Georgia edged the Florida Gators by one point to capture the school's first NCAA Regional crown since 2003 after taking second in 2012. Luke Baker (fourth), Brandon Lord (seventh) and Charlie Sparks (10th) had top-10 individual finishes in 2013 to highlight the performance.
Academically, both teams have been USTFCCCA All-Academic teams from 2006-2013 and the squads have had a variety of runners earn individual honors.
Bridget Lyons followed up her championship on the track in the 10,000 meters at the 2010 SEC outdoor meet with Capital One Academic All-America honors following the cross country season.
In addition, Brandon Lord, who captured the 2014 SEC 10,000-meter title, earned Men's Co-Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors in 2014. For the women, Picchetti, who finished her track and cross career as a three-time All-American, was also named the 2007 SEC co-Scholar Athlete of the Year.