2003 Season Review

Men

  •  The Georgia men's team put together the most successful season in school history in 2003, qualifying for the NCAA Championships for the first time ever, while the young women's squad far exceeded preseason expectations by finishing second in the SEC and nearly qualifying for their first NCAA Championship since 1997.
  • The Bulldogs finished first in four meets this season, including stringing together three consecutive victories at one point in the season. The Bulldogs started their streak at the Mercer Invitational in Macon, scoring a season low 33 points. The next week, the Dogs defended their home course with a victory at the Bulldog stampede and capped their three-meet winning streak with a stunning victory at the OSU Cowboy Jamboree in Stillwater, Okla. Georgia's 85 points bested perennial power Arkansas by nine, marking the Razorbacks first defeat to an SEC foe since they joined the conference in 1991.
  • Georgia then posted the program's best-ever finish at the SEC Championships, claiming second place and an automatic bid to the NCAA South Regional Championships. Simon Ngata, a junior college transfer from Butler Co. (Kan.) Community College, Philip Bett and Ian Dickinson all earned All-SEC First Team honors by finishing in the top seven, while Mike Swope claimed Second-Team honors. Georgia then went on to place four of its five scoring runners in the top 10 in its finest performance of the year at the South Region Championships en route to claiming victory and a first-ever bid in the NCAA Championships. All five scorers earned All-Region honors as the Bulldogs blew away the field of 21 teams, defeating second-place Florida State by 27 points and third-place Florida by 49. Ngata, the team's leader in every race during the season, won the South Regionals to earn "Runner of the Year" honors.
  • While their first appearance at the NCAA Championships culminated in a disappointing 25th-place finish, the Dogs will look to return there next season after losing just one senior, Dickinson, from this year's squad. Newcomers were essential to the Bulldogs success. Along with Ngata, freshman Ian Burrell also made key contributions, running as the fifth runner. Burrell's finest performance of the season came at the NCAA South Regionals, where he finished 14th and was the first freshman to cross the line.

 Women

  • The women's team entered the season with just one junior runner. The other 11 competitors were all freshmen or sophomores. Despite their youth and inexperience, the women posted four second-place efforts. The Lady Dogs finished second in their first three races, and following a 14th-place showing at the NCAA Pre Nationals, surprised the conference with a second-place finish at the SEC Championships. Just 16 points separated the second-through-sixth-place teams in the SEC race. At the NCAA South Regional Championships, the Lady Bulldogs finished third, 16 points back of second-place Florida State, just missing a bid to the NCAA Championships.
  • However, sophomore Kelly Cordell, in just her first full season of cross country, led Georgia and finished eighth at the South Regionals, earning her an at-large invitation to the NCAA Championships, where she finished 55th out of 252 runners. Her 6K finish of 20:55 also marked a personal best. Cordell also led Georgia in the OSU Cowboy Jamboree.
  • The Lady Bulldogs can look forward to much loftier expectations next season, as they return every runner off of this year's squad, including freshman Kristin Heffelfinger, who earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Heffelfinger was the first freshman to cross the finish line at the SEC Championships, finishing 14th en route to earning All-SEC Second-Team honors.
  • Sophomore Lauren Burks, last year's SEC women's Freshman of the Year, also earned All-SEC Second-Team honors, finishing eighth at the SEC Championships and missing
  • First-Team honors by just one place. The Lady Dogs also will return top-five runners Jill Steffens and Clair Nowakowski.

 


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