Athens, GA - Georgia’s track and field teams make the short trip to Clemson, S.C., on Saturday morning to open their 2011 indoor season at the Clemson Challenge versus a nationally-ranked field.
The Challenge will feature two teams from the Southeastern Conference – Georgia and Auburn – and two teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference in Clemson and Miami. The men’s shot put along with the men’s and women’s triple jumps are scheduled to be the meet’s first events and will get going at 11 a.m. The prelims of the women’s 60-meter hurdles are scheduled to begin at noon to jump-start the track events.
The meet will not be scored for the teams, but Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton is counting on a competitive battle in a familiar facility to Georgia’s teams.
“We have started more indoor track seasons at Clemson than at any other site over the last 15 years or so,” said Norton. “So I feel a lot familiarity in going to Clemson which makes it easy to evaluate and compare.”
The No. 14 Bulldog men will be one of four squads who are nationally ranked in the USTFCCCA preseason poll competing at the Challenge. The Clemson women are No. 5 going into the year while the Auburn women are No. 7 and the Auburn men are at No. 11.
This season opener marks the first of four regular season meets before the SEC Championships arrive in Fayetteville, Ark., on Feb. 25-27. The SEC Outdoor Championships will be in Athens on May 12-15, marking the first time UGA has hosted the meet since 1999.
“Our athletes and coaches are eager to get to the meet and to see how much work we have to do in order to reach our goals,” Norton said. “Regardless of how well we do at the meet, we will feel good about getting into the competition. It comes down to the fact that it is easier to get better if you know what you need to work on.”
One change in 2011 will be the elimination of provisional qualifying marks during the indoor season. In the past, there were provisional marks that were kept in a national descending order to decide who qualified for the national meet in addition to automatic qualifying marks, which immediately qualified an athlete for the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Now, a descending order of automatic qualifying marks will be solely used to determine who advances to the national meet.
In 2010, the Georgia men and women each finished fifth at the SEC Indoor Championships. The Bulldog men then tied for 20th at the NCAA Indoor Championships behind Torrin Lawrence’s national title in the 400, which was the first in school history indoors, while the Lady Bulldogs tied for 42nd.
Both Lawrence and Tommy Barrineau (heptathlon) are the defending SEC champions in their respective events.
Full results and a recap following the meet will be located at georgiadogs.com.