After a 3 year hiatus, the Bulldog Stampede is back as one of the premier meets in Northeast Georgia. Not since 2003 has the popular meet been held due to some ongoing issues that could not be easily solved. Dave Hartman was hired in August 2004 so there was not enough time that season to put together a home meet. In 2005, Hartman was still getting adjusted to the cross country program and Georgia and focusing on the recruiting development etc. so he was still not quite ready for this type of meet that season. The UGA Golf Course was re-designed in the fall of 2006, which meant the course was closed to both golfers as well as to any cross country options. "We are eagerly anticipating the return of the Bulldog Stampede to Athens on Saturday," said Georgia cross country coach Dave Hartman. "The entire cross country and track and field staff, event coordinator Scott Hallberg, the Oconee high school coaches and the UGA Golf Course staff led by Dave Cousart have been working tirelessly to make the necessary preparations to put on a first-class meet. We are extremely excited to be welcoming more than 1,500 athletes to the UGA Golf Course this weekend." "We are hoping to put on a great event as well as a great showing for our hometown crowd," Hartman said. Ashenifi Arega from North Atlanta holds the HS boys meet record with a 16:12 in 2002 and Bulldog Kristin Hefflefinger from Walton owns the course record for Girls in 19:08. The action will begin with the 5K Women's collegiate race at 8am followed by the Mens 8K at 8:30.More than 1,200 high school runners from more than 50 Georgia high schools will be testing out the hilly golf course beginning around 9am. Not many current high school runners competing have any experience on this venue since they were freshman the last time the meet was held. Hopefully teams will be running at full strength this Saturday as the 2007 season is in its 5th week and many squads are jockeying for position in the weekly rankings.
An outstanding field comprised of 33 ranked squads will take on the tough UGA course with many hot class battles going on. The headline matchup will be in the large school boys as Lassiter, Walton and Chapel Hill are all near the top of their classes. The big guns this season will also be in the mix for the individual title including Matt Cleaver from Wheeler, JP Hackney of Kell, Zach Flickinger of Lassiter, Miles Svoboda of Pope and Taylor Lord of Chapel Hill. All-Classes ranked Parkview's girls along with Roswell, Chapel Hill and Whitewater will also be an interesting race. Some of the the top individual girls in the state will be in the mix for individual honors including Lindsay Ebert and Caroline Ward of Parkview and Serra Stalling of Kennesaw Mountain.
The small school races hold the majority of ranked squads with many teams here that will be fighting it out at State again in 7 weeks. Last week at Jekyll Island the ACS boys made a statement to OLM that they will not be backing down to the hype and will be reckoned with. Team chemistry may be the big difference for the Eagles compared to 06'. But reports were that OLM was not running fully healthy at Jekyll Island. Wesleyan is #8 all-classes and will be the team to beat in the boys small school race. There is a hotbed of area AAA teams competing that's performance will determine Week 5 rankings including: Flowery Branch, Oconee, West Hall, North Hall, Riverwood and Dunwoody. Top individuals in the girls small school race will be ACS's Whitney Bishoff, Brett McDaniel of Riverwood and Anne Centner of Oconee County. The boys side will feature top small school harriers Jake Lethbridge and Thomas Raville from OLM, Brandon Ramsey and Chris Duval of Wesleyan and the duo of Nick Long and Nolan Clarke of North Hall.