Georgia Alumni Shine At 2024 USATF Indoor Nationals

So as I've gotten older and older, I've learned that the coach doesn't make the athlete, but the athlete makes the coach. A superstar athlete can make any coach look good. And Georgia track and field consistently has so much super star athlete talent it's kind of crazy. But the coach does serve an important role in nurturing that talent too. Georgia also has some of the best track and field coaches in the nation as well. So what happens when you get consistently great athletes combined with consistently great coaches? You get what we saw at USA's where the state of Georgia had an amazing meet and will make up a huge chunk of the team the USA is sending to the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. The fact that they're doing so well right now bodes well for their chances of making the Olympic team this summer.

Photo by Bruce Taylor

Daniel Haugh

Let's start with our new world record holder in Daniel Haugh from St. Pius X. This is at least the 4th time Haugh has made the US team at the senior level and he's already an Olympian after finishing 11th in the Hammer throw in Tokyo in 2021. Haugh was a star thrower in high school claiming 4 state titles in the shot put and discus. He also performed well at indoor nationals in the shot put and weight throw. But Haugh's best event has always been the hammer throw, which Georgia doesn't have as an event at the GHSA level. He set a national record in the hammer throw after his senior year of high school and also went on to win an NCAA championship in the event. He's still doing his thing 10 years later and now he's a world record holder in the indoor weight throw. That's very impressive considering it's not even his best event. If the Hammer truly is his better event, this could mean big things for him in an olympic year.

Tia Jones

And this is our other World Record holder, though technically she tied the world record. It still counts as being a world record holder though even if you have to share it. Tia Jones from Walton absolutely crushed the 60m hurdles this weekend. She tied the world record in the prelims and then won her first senior US title, making the US team for the first time in a major championship. Jones was a star even before she was in high school running some absurd times for a middle school girl. But she has definitely lived up to expectations, and dare I say exceeded them. She first wow'd us when she broke the state record in the 100m hurdles as a freshman. And while she only won two state titles, that's because she had bigger fish to fry even in high school and turned pro her senior year. Now, at the age of 23, she is a US champion and heading off to try to be the best in the world.

Photo by Bruce Taylor

Christian Coleman

One of the biggest stars, at least indoors, to come out of Georgia is Christian Coleman from St. Mary's Academy (formerly Our Lady of Mercy when he was there). Coleman is a world record holder, 2018 World Champion in the 60m dash, and one of the best sprinters Georgia has ever seen. He was pretty dominant in high school too where we won a total of 6 individual state titles. He then went on to win national titles in the NCAA while at Tennessee and also qualified for the 2016 Olympic team while a junior in college. He also won the Bowerman, track and field's most prestigious award. He owns four gold medals and four silver medals from the World Championships. While the one thing missing from his resume is an Olympic medal, he seems to have a good shot at that this year as he's now heading to yet another world championship as one of the best sprinters in the world. He finished 2nd in the 60m over the weekend and will try to win another medal in a couple of weeks.

Photo by Chris D'Aquin

Brian Faust

The biggest surprise of the meet for me was when Brian Faust from Marist won the 400. That's not a knock against his abilities, but he definitely came in as an underdog to the meet and scored the upset. He must have had confidence in his training though as the commentators remarked that he knew he was going to qualify and came to the meet prepared with his passport. He bounced around a couple of colleges and competed for them at multiple NCAA meets, but he certainly never achieved this level of success so he's clearly at his best ever. In high school he was very unique as he not only excelled in the always challenging 400/800 double, but he ran on both of Marist's relay teams being the anchor of their 4x100 and 4x400 at the state meet. We didn't have the 4x200 and 4x800 back then, but he still scored for them in four events as they won the team title his senior year, boosted big time by his two individual titles. He also ran for their state champion cross country team which cements one of the more unique resumes from a world championship 400m sprinter.

Photo by Bruce Taylor

Jasmine Jones

Jasmine Jones from Greater Atlanta actually made it a Georgia sweep in the women's 60m hurdles as she finished runner up to Tia in a new PB. Jones has been a hurdle star since middle school. She won 7 individual state titles in 3 years as she didn't get to compete in her senior outdoor season because of Covid. She also won multiple indoor and outdoor national titles while in high school. In college she's performed well for USC at the NCAA level, but nothing quite lives up to this kind of result. This is her first world championship team and I'm sure she will be thrilled to be representing the USA. 

Other athletes with Georgia ties include Kenturah Orji and Tara Davis-Woodhall who both competed for UGA. Allie Wilson, formerly a pro for the Atlanta Track Club, also qualified by winning the 800. Congrats to all Georgia athletes who will be competing at the world championships next month!