Georgia Cross Country Opens New Course With Georgia Tech Dual Meet



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ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia cross country is opening its 2009 season at a newly designed course in Bishop, Ga., with a dual meet versus Georgia Tech on Friday afternoon.
 
The starting gun will fire for the first race at 6 p.m. as the women will run a 5000-meter course and the men will compete on an 8000-meter course.  Directions for the course, which is located around UGA’s new equestrian complex on property formerly known as High Point Farm, are included at the bottom.
 
“I think it speaks to the commitment that the UGA Athletic Association has to all of our sports for us to be able to design this course and it’s exciting that we are getting this much support,” said cross country coach Jeff Pigg, who is entering his second year as Georgia’s coach.  “We have also gotten the blessings of the equestrian crew and they have been a huge help.  I think the athletes will enjoy this course since it has more to offer and is a little different than your normal courses.”
 
This is the second year in a row that the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets have joined for a season-opening dual meet in Athens. Georgia won both the men’s and women’s races at last year’s meet before sweeping Georgia Tech during the track and field season in Atlanta last April.
 
“We have had a long month of training so it will be fun to kickoff the season and see where everyone stands,” Pigg said.
 
Pigg has singled out his two senior captains as the leaders for the men’s squad. Bejan Abtahi, who missed the 2008 season while interning for the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado, and Dustin Tetley, who had the best individual finish (60th) at last year’s NCAA Regionals, will be expected to lead a team that has 12 freshmen and sophomores.
 
“Having Bejan back has been huge as far as the leadership goes on this team,” said Pigg.  “He’s one of those guys who has been here a long time and has battled through some rough times to get himself over the hump. I think his drive has helped the team as a whole.  For Dustin, his work ethic has transformed him into someone who was not even on the team earlier in his career to one of the better runners on this team.”
 
The Bulldogs will also be looking to senior Brian Potts, who topped the field at last year’s dual meet, to provide additional support.
 
While the Bulldog men beat the Yellow Jackets 24-35 during last year’s head-to-head matchup, Georgia Tech stormed back at the NCAA Regionals to finish 10th to Georgia’s 12th-place finish.
 
“The last time our guys faced them, they beat us and beat us soundly so hopefully we can answer back on Friday,” Pigg said.
 
The Georgia women topped Georgia Tech 19-40 in 2008 after having four of the top five finishers.  This year, the Lady Bulldogs will be counting on senior Bridget Lyons and sophomore Kristie Krueger, who are the team’s captains, to regain the team’s spot at the top of the Southeastern Conference and NCAA South Region.
 
“Kristie and Bridget have looked very good during our training and I believe they will take their performances to a new level after both having successful track seasons,” said Pigg, adding that junior Kylie Foley, who was Georgia’s top finisher at last year’s NCAA Regionals, will not be competing because of recent respiratory problems but is expected to be back for the Sept. 19 meet. 
 
In addition to having McKayla Plank, who was a 2006 cross country All-American at Iona, on the roster, Pigg is also expecting success from junior Emily Houston.
 
“Having (Emily) back at full-speed for this season should be a boost to our whole team since she is someone who has the potential to score at every meet,” Pigg said.
 
Friday’s dual meet will also be a chance for Pigg’s teams and the teams of an old rival of his to battle each other.  Pigg, who started his collegiate career at Missouri before transferring to Florida, and Yellow Jacket coach Alan Drosky, who ran at South Carolina before transferring to Georgia Tech, competed against each other in middle distance races throughout college and on the pro circuit in the first couple of years following school.
 
A two-time SEC indoor mile champion and three-time All-American, Pigg took his first collegiate coaching job in 1990, which also happened to be Drosky’s first season in the collegiate coaching ranks.
 
This is the first of two home meets for Georgia.  The Bulldogs will also host the Georgia Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 19 in Bishop.  A variety of collegiate teams and many high school programs from across the state are expected to compete in several morning races.
 
The first 250 fans at Friday’s meet will receive a “Beat Tech.”  Anyone who brings any ad/flyer in promoting this event will win free pizza.
 
For meet results and a recap, please visit georgiadogs.com.
 
UGA Cross Country Course (located right next to Bishop Baptist Church)
1110 Old Bishop Rd.
Bishop, GA  30621
From Athens:
- Take US 441 South for 7.3 miles.
- Turn left on Old Bishop Rd.
- Go over the railroad tracks.  The course is on your right just past Bishop Baptist Church. All fans, officials and volunteers will park in the grass fields behind the church.
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