Bulldog distance coach Jeff Pigg led his Bulldog men to top all SEC finishers at the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships.
June 21, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. --- In pursuit of advancing to their second consecutive NCAA Championships, Georgia's cross country program released its 2012 schedule on Thursday.
Following a single home meet on Sept. 1, the Bulldogs travel to Nashville, Tenn., twice. On Sept. 15, Georgia will compete at the Commodore Classic to tune up for the Southeastern Conference Championships (Oct. 26), which will also be run at the Vaughn's Gap course in Nashville.
UGA will face some of the nation's other top talent at their next pair of road meets. The Bulldogs will travel to Louisville, Ky., the home of this year's NCAA Championships, for the Greater Louisville Classic on Sept. 29 before competing at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational in Madison, Wisc., on Oct. 12.
Following the SEC meet, Georgia will make the trip to Tallahassee, Fla., for the NCAA South Regional before the NCAA meet arrives in Louisville in Nov. 17.
The Bulldogs kick off the season on the first Saturday in September at their home course in Bishop, Ga., with the Georgia Invitational. This marks the fourth season that Georgia has welcomed collegiate and high school teams to its course that winds around the UGA Equestrian Complex.
"It's always nice to start a season where our UGA family and friends will be in attendance and cheering," said Bulldog distance coach Jeff Pigg, whose men's team topped the rest of the SEC at last year's NCAA Championships. "Having the high schoolers race at the meet also makes it a more festive environment and obviously adds many more spectators. I like it for our crew because it's a chance to see where we are and what we need to work on."
Pigg said this will be the first of many challenges in 2012 for both his men and women.
"This will be a great opportunity for some of our freshmen who redshirted last year because we are going to need some young guys to step up," said Georgia's fifth-year coach. "And I sent the women an email this week and asked them who were going to be the new faces up front since Kristie (Krueger) will no longer be there to set the pace."
After also traveling to the state of Tennessee for the 2011 SEC meet since the Volunteers hosted, Pigg wants to prepare his team for postseason action at Vanderbilt since they have not run there before.
"The Vanderbilt meet will be an opportunity for us to see and run on a course that I haven't taken a team in my 22 years of coaching," Pigg said. "It's closer to Athens than some other spots we have had to travel to and I know the Vandy staff will put on a good meet. It will also be a big challenge to race against the Vanderbilt women, who won SECs last year and were sixth at Nationals."
This will mark the 11th Greater Louisville Classic so Pigg is no stranger to the course at the Tom Sawyer State Park. But what will be different this year is that Louisville will be the home for the NCAA Championships after the national meet was run in Terre Haute, Ind., the last eight years.
"Going to Louisville this year will be a preview of the NCAA Championships so we definitely want a chance to run on that course," said Pigg. "Because it is the site of Nationals, there will be a loaded field there and it'll be a great opportunity to line up against some of the best in the country."
In 2011, the Georgia men's team finished 21st out of 39 out of the nation's top teams at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational. The Bulldogs' performance was highlighted by Brandon Lord's 37th-place finish and Matt Cleaver's 67th-place finish in the 270-man field. Pigg designated his team's performance in Madison as a key element to the squad advancing to its first NCAA Championships since 2004.
"If Louisville is a good meet to go to this year, Wisconsin is even better," Pigg said about his teams going to the home of the 2011 NCAA men's champion. "We will have seen it all by the SEC Championships after running at Louisville and at Wisconsin. Last year (in Wisconsin), our guys kind of took a beating but they also beat some teams like Syracuse and Georgetown that Georgia had never beaten. I think our guys grew up some at that meet and improved their overall level of confidence."
A preview of the 2012 season for the Georgia men and women's cross country teams will be located at georgiadogs.com closer to the Sept. 1 season opener.