Sophomores Jessica Drop and Samantha Drop took the top two spots to lead the Lady Bulldogs to a team victory, while the Bulldog men placed fourth despite senior Bryan Kamau’s top finish Saturday morning in the 2017 Bulldog SEC Preview at the UGA Golf Course.
All five scorers for the Lady Bulldogs finished inside the top-10 to showcase an impressive 19-point total, 30 points ahead of second place Georgia Tech. On the men’s side, the Bulldogs finished with 78 points behind Tennessee (68), Georgia Tech (56) and first place Texas A&M (49).
“A spectacular performance,” said Georgia head coach Patrick Cunniff. “Obviously the twins [Jessica Drop and Sam Drop], up front, one and two. Again that experienced group of girls, Addy (Lippitt), Grace (Tavani), and Hailey (Branch), were battling for every point and running really strong down the finish. It was a great start to the season. I think our three men who were in the front, Bryan (Kamau), Austin (Sprague), and Eric (Westog), really led this team. [It was] Disappointing that rest of the team didn’t show up but I know we’ll move forward. We’ve been dealing with some illness.”
The Lady Bulldogs’ finish mirrored their season opening win as the Drop twins placed first and second again to set the tone. Jessica crossed the 6,000m line with a time of 21:10.7, while Sam came in five seconds later. It marked Jessica’s third collegiate victory and her seventh time being the team leader.
The trio that rounded out the Georgia scoring were senior Addy Lippitt in fourth (21:58.1) and juniors Grace Tavani and Hailey Branch in sixth (22:07.0) and ninth (22:16.4), respectively – all personal best places.
Kamau recorded his third collegiate win and headed his team for eighth time going back to the start of the 2016 season. Tennessee’s Zach Long and Georgia Tech’s Nahom Solomon contested the final straight away, but Kamau ran strong to finish the 8,000-meter race at 25:20.2. Senior Austin Sprague nabbed Georgia’s other top-10 finish with a four-place showing and a time of 25:30.8.
Senior Eric Westog finished seconds off the top-10 pace at 25:47.9, good for 12th. The last two Bulldog scorers were redshirt freshman Michael Hans and senior Jon Moses in 37th and 38th place, respectively.
With the SEC Championships getting held at the UGA Golf Course in October, this early season race provided teams with a chance to preview the course and the competition that is expected.
“I thought that the course was beautiful,” Cunniff elaborated. “I thought it was laid out very, well and I think it is challenging as heck. I was much happier to be riding it in a golf cart than running it…Hopefully the biggest takeaway for everybody is just the sense of how to run this course. How to adjust their effort to do the course well.”
The Bulldogs return to action in the Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, Pa. on Saturday, Sept. 29.
Updates from Georgia’s track and field and cross country teams can always be found on Twitter/Instagram (UGATrack) and Snapchat (ugatrack).
1. Texas A&M 49 pts.
2. Georgia Tech 56 pts.
3. Tennessee 68 pts.
4. Georgia 78 pts.
5. Auburn 112 pts.
6. LSU 151 pts.
1. Georgia 19 pts.
2. Georgia Tech 49 pts.
3. Texas A&M 76 pts.
4. South Carolina 125 pts.
5. Tennessee 127 pts.
6. LSU 155 pts.
7. Mercer 207 pts.