Bulldog Cross Country Earns At-Large Bid To NCAA Championships
Jeff Pigg began his tenure as Georgia's cross country coach in June 2008 after spending the last six years at the University of Florida and has quickly developed some of the nation's top distance talent at UGA.
Five NCAA All-Region performers and four more All-SEC runners and All-SEC Freshmen during the cross country season in 2010 showed what magnitude of impact Pigg has had on the program. Sophomore Kristie Krueger, a 2010 indoor All-American in the mile, led the way by advancing to her first NCAA Cross Country Championships, taking fourth at the SEC Championships and eighth at the NCAA South Regionals. She then registered a quartet of third-place finishes at SEC meets during the track season. Pigg's cross country teams finished no lower than fifth place at both the conference meet and the NCAA Regional. Warmed up by a impressive cross season, Pigg's distance corps shot out of the gates during the 2010 track season. His crew set or improved 28 top-10 marks in the indoor and outdoor record books, including two school records. Sophomore Aaron Evans set one of those records (as well as a national record for the Bahamas) in the outdoor 800-meter run (1:46.26) before having a runner-up finish at the SEC meet and earning All-American honors by taking third at the NCAA Championships. Matt Cleaver ran away with the school's steeplechase record earlier in the outdoor campaign.
On the women's side, Pigg was instrumental as former walk-on Bridget Lyons captured her first SEC crown in the 10,000, advanced to the NCAA Championships and was runner-up in the indoor 5000 at the league meet. Lyons, an ESPN The Magazine All-Academic standout, also finished the 2009 cross season with All-SEC and All-Region honors.
In his first year with the Bulldogs, Pigg saw a pair of student-athletes earn All-SEC honors and one of those earn a spot on the All-Region team. During the 2009 track season, Pigg directed the development of Krueger as she advanced to the NCAA East Regionals. He also helped both Lyons (10,000) and Ilana McQuinn (steeplechase) score at the SEC meet for the first time in their careers.
The Gators had one of their strongest showings in the program's history during the 2007-08 academic year, which was Pigg's final season in Gainesville. In cross country, Pigg led the Florida men to a second-place finish at the SEC meet. In fact, the Gators finished third-place or better during all of Pigg's six cross country seasons in Gainesville.
After the Florida men and women advanced to the 2006 NCAA Cross Country Championships together for the first time in school history, the women further strengthened their program by earning a spot at the national meet for two straight seasons. The Florida women finished 11th at the 2007 NCAA meet, which was the highest finish in school history.
A tireless worker whose enthusiasm inspires his athletes, Pigg has coached more than 30 All-Americans in his 19 years of collegiate coaching. A 1988 graduate of Florida, Pigg returned to Florida in 2002 and spearheaded a turnaround in the Gators' program.
In the 2004 cross country season, Pigg guided the Florida men's team to its first national ranking since 1994 and a second-place finish at the SEC Championships. For an encore, he guided the Gators to a top-10 ranking during the 2005 season and upped the ante in 2006 by guiding the Gators to another top-10 national ranking.
The outstanding 2006 cross country season came on the heels of a solid 2006 outdoor track campaign in which Pigg helped lead the Gators to the SEC indoor title in the distance medley relay and coached Shane Stroup to All-America honors in the mile and an SEC outdoor title in the 800.
The 2005 cross country season followed a banner showing by Florida's distance athletes on the track. At the 2005 NCAA Outdoor Championships, Stroup broke Pigg's 1500 Florida record by crossing the line in 3:38.57 to finish fifth. During Pigg's tenure in Gainesville, his athletes rewrote the Florida record books.
Pigg returned to Gainesville from Normal, Ill., where he spent two years as the head track and field and cross country coach at Illinois State University. In his first season, he guided the men's cross country team to its first Missouri Valley Conference title in eight years and was voted the Valley's Coach of the Year, which was followed by the school's first NCAA berth in 10 years.
Another highlight from Pigg's career was the 10-year span he spent as an assistant coach and head cross country coach at the University of Missouri from 1990-2000. In his decade at Missouri, he guided 25 athletes to All-America honors and numerous Big 12 titles. His women's cross country teams automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships five times and the men qualified three times. In 1992, Pigg coached Susan Bliss who earned All-America honors for a third place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
The 1998-99 season was a great one for Pigg and the Tiger distance and middle distance athletes. Pigg guided both the men and women's cross country teams to the NCAA Championships for the first time in school history. He also coached his first NCAA champion, as Derrick Peterson won both the indoor and outdoor 800 and also became the American Collegiate record holder in that same event. In all, the Tigers earned 37 All-Big 12 Conference honors in distance and middle distance events that season alone.
Prior to accepting his position at Missouri, Pigg spent a year as the head track & field coach at Gainesville High School. He also was an assistant coach for the Gator track & field program from 1989-90. In his first coaching stint with the Gators, Pigg worked with several All-Americans and helped guide Florida to a second place team finish at the 1989 NCAA Indoor Championships.
A 1988 graduate of the University of Florida, Pigg was a member of Florida's cross country and track and field teams that earned the SEC triple crown in 1987. He earned Cross Country All-SEC honors in the fall of 1985 and 1986 for the Gators and was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll in 1987. He had 10 top-10 finishes in cross country races in his career as a Gator and still ranks on several of the school's cross country top 10 lists. He earned two All-America honors and eight All-SEC honors in both cross country and track. He won the SEC indoor mile twice in his career as a Gator. Pigg's personal-best times were 3:41.08 in the 1500-meter run and 1:48.75 in the 800. In 1986, he led the Gators to the SEC Cross Country Championships title and an eighth-place finish at NCAAs.
Pigg began his collegiate career at Missouri before transferring to Florida. In two seasons at Missouri, Pigg earned eight All-Big Eight honors. In the spring of 1985 he set a conference record and was an All-American in the 1000-yard run.
Pigg and his wife, Vicki, have two daughters, Olivia and Liberty, and a son, Cole.