UGA Adds Patrick Cunniff As Bulldog Distance Coach
Wayne Norton begins his 11th year as the University of Georgia head track and field coach and his 20th year overall with the program. Norton has compiled an extremely impressive resumé as he has been a major part of arguably the most successful period in Georgia track and field history.
In Norton's 10 years as head coach, Georgia has won 16 individual national titles, earned 99 All-America certificates, won 70 SEC individual titles, and the men's and women's teams have achieved a total of 20 top-25 finishes in NCAA competition.
Over the last four years, Norton and his coaching staff further established Georgia's program as one of the elite program's in the nation. The Lady Bulldogs claimed both the SEC indoor and SEC outdoor titles in 2006, finished with four NCAA individual championships and four top-10 team finishes at the NCAA Championships. The Bulldog men and women also combined to rack up 27 SEC individual crowns during the last four seasons. Georgia also claimed its first NCAA men's javelin title during the 2008 outdoor season and Chris Hill, who went on to win the 2009 USA Championships, was able to accomplish that feat yet again during the 2009 campaign.
Norton came to Georgia in 1990 and has been instrumental in guiding the UGA men to five outdoor top-10 NCAA finishes, 12 outdoor top-20 finishes, two indoor top-10 finishes and four outdoor top-20 finishes. The men's team, which has competed since 1897, has experienced its most sustained success during Norton's tenure at the University of Georgia.
Norton has also been instrumental in the development of a nationally competitive women's track and field 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 in the indoor championships. Over the course of the last 10 seasons, the women's team has captured six outdoor top-20 finishes and five indoor top-15 finishes.
In his time at Georgia, the cross country team also has experienced its most successful period. Prior to the '90s, 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 also get back in 1991, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2006 as well as 2007. The Georgia men won the South Regional in 2003 to advance to the NCAA Championships for the first time. They 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 Bulldogs 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.
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 indoor and outdoor men's conference championships, three women's indoor conference championships, two outdoor women's championships, four men's cross country championships and three women's cross country championships.
While at Georgia, he has produced a steady stream of All-American jumpers, including 2008 Olympians Levern Spencer and Patricia Sylvester. Norton was instrumental in 2006 with the pair listed above racking up four All-American certificates and four SEC individual titles. In 1995, Georgia's jumpers enjoyed one of their best seasons ever, collecting 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 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Fountain gave Georgia's track and field program its 11th medal after earning a silver in the heptathlon.
Norton, a New Jersey native, received his bachelor's degree in broadcast production from Howard University in 1981. In his time as a graduate assistant coach at Indiana, he earned a master's degree in journalism in 1987.
Norton and his wife Priscilla have four children: son Christian and daughters LaShawna, Jasmine and Erica.