Athens, GA - Eleven consecutive years of traveling to different sites throughout the region for the Southeastern Conference Track & Field Championships will be coming to an end in 2011.
After making the journey to Fayetteville, Ark., for the SEC Indoor Championships at the end of February, the Bulldogs will be hosting the SEC Outdoor Championships in Athens on May 12-15.
This will be Georgia’s first conference track meet at home since hosting the 1999 SEC outdoor meet and the school’s sixth time hosting a league meet all-time. UGA also hosted the 1966, 1976, 1982 and 1990 SEC meets, renaming the facility the Spec Towns Track in honor of the late great Georgia track and field legend Forrest “Spec” Towns during a ceremony at the 1990 SEC Championships.
After traveling to Fayetteville for last year’s indoor meet, Knoxville, Tenn., for the 2010 outdoor meet and many stops between over the last decade, Georgia head coach Wayne Norton is anxious to compete for SEC crowns on his teams’ home track this year.
“The Georgia track coaches and student-athletes are looking forward to the 2011 SEC Outdoor Championships being held right here on our campus,” said Norton. “Of all the meets on our schedule, this one is without a doubt the most important one to our program. The Championships are always a great event because the fierce competition makes it both exciting and entertaining for the athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and spectators – and we are counting on a lot of red and black in the crowd to cheer us on.”
While the Bulldogs return to Athens with numerous individual SEC crowns each year, including a combined six league champions during the 2010 indoor and outdoor seasons, the program is attempting to win its first team title since 2006. The Lady Bulldogs swept the 2006 indoor and outdoor meets after having last won a team title in 1995. The Georgia men have won one team championship in school history (1937).
“We have received commitment and support from the athletic administration to make sure that all of the details are taken care of and that it is a great success,” Norton said. “Our athletes are pointing towards it to be ready at the right time. Our track and field and cross country alumni may be the most excited group in anticipating our hosting the meet. My staff has heard from several of our former athletes who plan to be here for the meet.”
The last time Georgia hosted the SEC Championships, Debbie Ferguson ran away with both the 100-meter dash and 200 titles and was the high-point scorer on the women’s side. The UGA program finished with seven individual crowns in 1999.
Norton is hoping those champions as well as many of the other Georgia track and field alumni from various years return to campus for a reunion on Saturday, May 14.
“We are hosting a reunion for our alumni on the Saturday night of the Championships, which will be May 14,” said Norton. “It should be a special event in which the alumni will be welcomed by the last three head track coaches at Georgia - Lewis Gainey, John Mitchell and yours truly. We are currently trying to contact as many of the track family members as we can to spread the word and attract them to the meet and the reunion. If there are alumni out there who have not heard the news about the reunion, we want them to contact the track office and sign up to attend.”
Former athletes as well as fans interested in both the reunion and the SEC Outdoor Championships in Athens on May 12-15 can contact the UGA track and field office at (706) 542-7915 for additional details.
The Bulldogs open their 2011 indoor campaign in Clemson, S.C., in a challenge versus several SEC and ACC steams.