UGA Adds Patrick Cunniff As Bulldog Distance Coach
The Bulldogs posted three team national finishes in the top six during the indoor and outdoor campaigns, including a tie for third with a school record 40.5 points for the Georgia women at the '14 NCAA Indoor Championships which was the second-best finish in school history. UGA's teams completed the year by registering their best combined finish in school history at the NCAA outdoor meet with the Lady Bulldogs taking fifth and the Georgia men managing sixth.
Individually, his team combined to tally a school record five NCAA champions in 2014 with Leontia Kallenou sweeping the high jump titles, true freshman Kendell Williams winning both the pentathlon and heptathlon crowns and Maicel Uibo overtaking the 2013 NCAA champion in the decathlon's 10th and final event to capture his first national title in the multi-events. Williams returned to win the 100 meter hurdles titles at the USATF Junior Championships and World Junior Championships over the summer.
When the dust settled after outdoor Nationals in Eugene, Ore., Norton's teams recorded an impressive list of individual accolades over the indoor and outdoor campaigns: a World Junior Record in the pentathlon, American Junior records in the pentathlon, heptathlon and 100m hurdles, collegiate records in the pentathlon and the heptathlon 100m hurdles, a Cypress national record in the outdoor high jump, NCAA Championship records in the pentathlon and heptathlon 100 hurdles, an SEC Championship record in the indoor high jump and four school records (men's heptathlon indoors, pentathlon indoors, indoor women's high jump, 100m hurdles).
Georgia's immense success in the classroom has also coincided with Norton's time as head coach. The Bulldog men were named the USTFCCCA National Scholar Team of the Year for the 2014 outdoor season. Lucie Ondraschkova improved upon her 2013 Academic All-America Third Team honor to earn Second Team honors in 2014 while Brandon Lord complemented his 2014 SEC 10,000m title with Academic All-America Third Team honors. In addition, Norton's teams each garnered 2014 All-Academic Team honors and 12 Bulldogs earned All-Academic Individual honors.
During Norton's 15 years as head coach, Georgia has won 25 individual national titles, including seven in the last two years (2013 - Shaunae Miller, indoor 400m; Freya Jones, javelin), earned 192 All-America certificates and captured 108 SEC individual titles. The men and women's teams have also achieved a total of 29 top-25 NCAA finishes during this span.
Over the last nine years, Norton and his coaching staff further established Georgia's program as one of the nation's elite programs. The Lady Bulldogs claimed both the SEC indoor and outdoor titles in 2006, finished with nine NCAA individual crowns and seven top-10 team finishes at the NCAA Championships during those years. Georgia also combined to rack up 58 SEC individual crowns during the last nine seasons.
UGA claimed its first NCAA men's javelin title in 2008 before Chris Hill, who went on to win the 2009 USA Championships, was able to accomplish the feat yet again in 2009. This was the first national championship for the Bulldog men since 2003. The UGA men returned to the top of the podium in 2014 as Maicel Uibo won the decathlon crown.
Another first for the Bulldog men came as the late great Torrin Lawrence sprinted to Georgia's first national championship in the 400m at the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships. Lawrence completed his career as a seven-time All-American and three-time SEC champion and with three of the top-10 collegiate indoor 400m times all-times, including a 45.03.
In the field, Nikola Lomnicka captured the third NCAA women's hammer throw crown for the Lady Bulldogs in five years in 2010 before finishing third at the 2011 NCAA Championships. Lomnicka concluded her career in 2012 with her third consecutive First Team All-America certificate in the hammer and three SEC championships.
Norton came to Georgia in 1990 and has been instrumental in guiding the UGA men to five outdoor top-10 NCAA finishes, 13 outdoor top-20 finishes, two indoor top-10 finishes and six indoor top-20 finishes. He has also been a key factor in the development of a nationally competitive women's team. In the 1995 season, Georgia won its first ever SEC Outdoor Championship in the history of the women's program. In 1996, the Lady Bulldogs claimed their highest NCAA finish in school history as they finished second at NCAA Indoors. Over the course of the last 15 seasons, the women's team has captured eight outdoor top-20 finishes and seven indoor top-15 finishes. The Georgia women scored more than 100 points (108) at the 2012 SEC Outdoor Championships and posted their eighth top-25 finish at the NCAA outdoor meet during Norton's tenure.
In his time at Georgia, the cross country team has also thrived. Prior to the 1990s, the women's team had never gone to the NCAA Championships, but that changed in 1990 when they made their first ever trip to the NCAAs. Georgia would get back to nationals in 1991, 1997, 2004-07 and 2011-2012. The 2013 campaign saw the Bulldog men make their school record third straight trip to Nationals and edge Florida by one point for the NCAA South Regional title. Both Georgia distance teams qualified for the national meet in 2012, with the UGA men grabbing their top NCAA finish in history (19th).
In 2011, the Georgia men advanced to the NCAA cross meet for the first time since 2004 and had the top SEC team finish. The Bulldogs won the South Regional in 2003 to advance to their first NCAA meet. They then returned to the national meet in 2004, which marked the first time in school history that both the men's and women's cross country teams competed simultaneously at the NCAA meet.
In 2006, the Lady Bulldog cross country team grabbed their first South Regional title and took 15th at the NCAA Championships. The Georgia women, who saw Natalie Picchetti earn All-American honors, returned to the NCAA meet for the fourth consecutive time in 2007 after Sarah Madebach won the school's first SEC individual title. Kristie Krueger added another All-America certificate for the Lady Bulldog XC crew in 2010 after winning her own SEC crown.
Norton, who began coaching in 1981 as a graduate assistant at Indiana, has had success at all three of the schools where he has coached. While at Indiana from 1981-85, the Hoosiers won three Big Ten Indoor Championships and an outdoor Big Ten Championship.
Before coming to Athens, Norton served as an assistant coach at Northern Arizona University from 1985-89. He coached NAU's jumpers and sprinters (a group which featured NFL speedsters Mike Haynes, David Lang and Shawn Collins), while serving as an instructor in both physical education and journalism. During his tenure at Northern Arizona, the program had a very successful five-year period. Out of the Big Sky Conference, Northern Arizona won four men's conference championships, three women's indoor conference championships, two outdoor women's championships, seven cross country championships.
While at Georgia, he has produced a steady stream of All-American jumpers, including 2008 and 2012 Olympian Levern Spencer and 2008 Olympian Patricia Sylvester. Norton was instrumental in 2006 with the pair listed above racking up four All-American certificates and four SEC individual titles. The Lady Bulldogs won a pair of SEC jump titles in 2013 and collected five All-America certificates. In 1995, Georgia's jumpers enjoyed one of their best seasons ever, registering another five All-America awards while winning three SEC crowns, thanks to the efforts of Thad Hood, Icolyn Kelly, Reeta Laaksonen and Dillon Phelps. Laaksonen and Phelps added more such honors in 1996 and Sylvester came away with her first conference title in 2005. Norton has also guided other nationally-renowned jumpers including Celly Martinez, Latifah Long, Krysha Bayley, Volker Mai, Hyleas Fountain, Ryan Sheppard, Patrick Thavelin, Wolfgang Kreissig, Marcus Bailey, Tasha Mahone and Antonio Saunders.
At the 2012 Olympics in London, former Bulldog thrower Reese Hoffa gave Georgia's track and field program its 12th medal after earning a bronze in the shot put. During the 2008 Games in Beijing, Hyleas Fountain claimed a silver medal in the heptathlon after competing for Norton and the Lady Bulldogs in 2003-04. Norton received his Bachelor's degree in broadcast production from Howard University in 1981. During his time as a graduate assistant coach at Indiana from 1981-85, he worked on his Master's in journalism and earned the degree in 1987.
Norton and his wife Priscilla have four children: son Christian and daughters LaShawna, Jasmine and Erica. Norton also has a son-in-law after Andre Wilson married his daughter LaShawna. The couple has a son named Isaiah.
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