Track & Field In Search of Regional Crown

ATHENS - Following the third-best combined finish in the program's history at the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships, 27 members of Georgia's track and field teams will be competing in 22 events at the NCAA East Regional Championships in Gainesville, Fla., on May 25-26.

Head coach Wayne Norton, who led his sixth-ranked women's team to third place and the men, who are tied for 20th, to fourth place at the SEC meet inTuscaloosa, Ala., earlier this month, is concentrating on qualifying Georgia's team members for the NCAA Championships and picking up a couple regional championships along the way.

"The objective in this meet is to finish in the top five in individual events and top three in relays," said Norton. "And for some of our athletes who are ranked in the top 15 nationally, a top-12 finish would be good enough (to qualify for the NCAA meet)."

In 2006, the Lady Bulldogs piled up 50.50 points to take third at the regional meet in Greensboro, N.C. Jennifer Dahlgren highlighted Georgia's meet by setting new Southeastern Conference, collegiate, Argentinean and South American records in the hammer throw with an effort of 236 feet, 3 inches. Dahlgren has since surpassed those records with her throw of 239-4 at the Spec Towns Invitational on April 13.

The Georgia men left last year's regional meet with a seventh-place finish (29 points). Justin Gaymon, who is No. 1 in the SEC as well as the nation in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 49.25, took third in his premier event with a time of 50.20 to lead the Bulldogs.

In addition to Gaymon and Dahlgren, junior Levern Spencer (high jump), who joined Dahlgren as a 2006 regional champion, and senior Krista Woodward (javelin) are leading the NCAA East in their respective events and Norton is hoping their regular season success carries over to this weekend's meet.

"A strong regional meet can enhance our chances at the NCAA Championships," Norton said. "We need to more or less get through the region to have a chance at the nationals."

Senior David Dickens (eighth in the 200), junior Sigrun Fjeldsted (fourth in the javelin), Woodward (fifth in the javelin) and the men's 4x100 relay team (fourth) are also returning scorers from last year's meet.

The top five finishers in each individual event and the top three relay teams in the 4x100 and 4x400 will automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships in Sacramento on June 6-9. The remainder of the field for the national meet will be filled with those student-athletes below the automatic qualifiers on the national performance list.

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