The men bounced back from a 12th-place finish in 2008 to top rival Florida and rejoin the region’s elite squads in ‘09. Just as he had in the first five meets of the year, senior captain Bejan Abtahi led the Bulldogs and earned All-Region honors after taking 15th overall (30:44.55) in the 10k. Fellow senior captain Dustin Tetley, who ran his way back onto the team after struggling to make a traveling squad early in his career, finished 22nd at his final region meet to also be named to the All-Region squad. A freshmen duo for the Georgia men - Bill Matthews and Brett Richardson - also showed their potential by earning All-Region honors. Matthews, who scored in all six meets during his first season in red and black, was 34th overall at the Regionals as Richardson, who arrived at UGA via Georgia State, was the team’s fourth finisher, taking 30th.
Georgia’s teams started their 2009 campaign by sweeping both the dual meet with Georgia Tech and the Georgia Cross Country Invitational. The Bulldogs and Georgia women were led by Krueger and Abtahi after both won each of their respective races. While opening the season in the Athens area was a boost, the student-athletes and Coach Jeff Pigg were even more thrilled about breaking in their new course in Bishop, Ga. Their new rolling plot of land weaves through the woods as well as grass trails on UGA’s new equestrian complex and Pigg is hoping this will be his teams’ home for many years to come.
After starting the season at home, Georgia quickly squared off versus some of the nation’s top talent at the Notre Dame Invitational. Krueger’s 35th-place individual finish helped the Lady Bulldogs finished 15th while the Georgia men battled for 14th. Both Abtahi and sophomore Matt Cleaver broke into the field’s top 60. Georgia followed up a rough trip to Terre Haute for the NCAA Pre-Nationals, where the Lady Bulldogs were 19th and the Bulldogs 24th, with a journey to Oxford, Miss., for the SEC Championships. Krueger showed more fl ashes of her dominating style by staying with the lead pack throughout the race and finishing fourth with a time of 21:17.80. Thanks to Lyons finishing not far behind with a career-best 11th-place finish, the Lady Bulldogs equaled their 2008 finish to take fourth.
The Georgia men had their best finish since 2006, taking fifth. With the finish for the Bulldog men, the program also boasted their best combined finish since ‘06. Abtahi sped to a 21st-place finish, which was his best finish at an SEC meet, to lead Georgia. Tetley (25th), Matthews (27th) and Cleaver (28th) all broke into the top 30 to push the Bulldogs up in the standings.