The Georgia cross country teams will host a pair of meets at the UGA Golf Course, including the SEC Championships, to highlight the 2017 slate.
Georgia distance coach Patrick Cunniff and his men and women’s teams open the season at the Western Carolina Invitational in Cullowhee, N.C., on September 2 before welcoming opposing squads to the Bulldog SEC Preview at the UGA Golf Course on September 9. Later in the season, Georgia opens the postseason by hosting the SEC Championships at the same course on October 28.
“Just looking at the schedule gets me eager to get started and I amped up by the positive possibilities,” said Cunniff, who is starting his seventh season leading his alma mater’s distance corps. “This schedule also proves our commitment to take on the best competition anywhere we need to go and the belief that our student-athletes and our teams can compete at the very highest levels in cross country.”
This marks the first time since 2007 that Georgia will be hosting a meet at the UGA Golf Course. That season, the Lady Bulldogs won the Bulldog Stampeded while the UGA men finished second. While Georgia swept Georgia Tech in a dual meet at the UGA Intramural Fields in 2008, the Bulldogs have hosted all of their meets starting in 2009 through 2016 on a course that curled around the UGA Equestrian Complex in Bishop.
“We are very excited to have two meets at home, especially hosting SECs,” Cunniff said. “Matt Peterson (course manager) and Scott Griffith (course superintendent) at the UGA Golf Course have been awesome, and I think we will have an amazing course. The September 9 meet gives alumni, family, and friends an incredible chance to watch our teams compete against a very quality field at home. Then we will look to get a home course advantage and great fan support at SECs. Fans will see elite competition and hopefully special performances from the Bulldogs, particularly a big group of senior men.”
In addition to the season opener at Western Carolina, Georgia will also make the short trip to Greenville, S.C., for the Gene Mullin Invitational on October 7.
“It’s always great to get quality competition without traveling too far,” said Cunniff. “To be able to stay in our academic and training routines while moving forward competitively is a huge advantage and we look forward to both trips.”
The Bulldogs’ other regular season meet takes them to the annual Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, Pa., on September 29, which is hosted by Lehigh University. Following the Gene Mullin meet, Georgia will make the trip to the Nationals course in Louisville, Ky., for NCAA Pre-Nationals on October 14.
“Pre-Nats is tremendously important for us,” Cunniff said. “Our goal is to develop the fitness and the confidence by October 14. I want our teams to know and believe that it is a preview meet for us and that we will be back in November. Then we need to go out and race toe to toe with the best cross country teams in the country.”
Following the SEC Championships in Athens, Georgia will compete at the NCAA South Regional in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on November 10. If the Bulldogs advance, they will complete the season at the NCAA Championships in Louisville on November 18 on a course they will have run a month before in October.
In 2016, the Georgia men wrapped up their year by taking third at the NCAA South Regional while the Lady Bulldogs took fifth. The Bulldog men were fourth at last season’s SEC Championships and the Georgia women finished 10th.