Even during the offseason, when the Georgia Bulldogs are not fielding varsity teams in intercollegiate competition, there is news to report regarding the Red and Black, which sometimes does not concern football players who end their Classic City careers with felony arrests. For the sake of concision, we like to sum up these tidbits in a single segment known locally as the Sunday sports summary. Here is what you need to know as you bring your weekend to a close:
We will start our regular rundown with women’s golf, as a trio of lady linksters represented the Red and Black this week. In the Callaway Gardens-based Georgia Women’s Open, Amira Alexander and Amelia Hill carded top ten finishes, with incoming freshman Alexander taking second place with a two-over-par 146 after firing a 69 in the final round. At the Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship, Rocio Sanchez Lobato won five straight match play competitions, two of which were over Auburn’s Marta Sanz and Florida’s Camilla Hedberg, in the first two and a half days of the tourney before finishing as the runner-up to Alabama’s Stephanie Meadow by dropping a four-and-three decision in Sanchez Lobato’s sixth and final match on Saturday.
Off the course, newly-named Georgia head women’s golf coach Josh Brewer recently announced the hiring of assistant coach Lindsay Hulwick, whose seven-year stint at the University of Denver saw the Pioneer ladies capture seven conference crowns, receive seven NCAA Regional bids, and send three teams to the NCAA Championships, where Denver claimed top six finishes twice in the last five years. Welcome to Bulldog Nation, Coach Hulwick!
This week, like last week, our focus is on Bulldogs pursuing Olympic gold. The Georgia swimmers started slowly on Monday, with no Athenian surpassing Andrew Gemmell’s fourth-place finish behind runner-up Michael Phelps in the men’s 400-meter individual medley, but Georgia picked up the pace on Tuesday, when 2008 bronze medalist and rising senior Allison Schmitt qualified for the London Olympiad with a win in the women’s 400-meter freestyle.
Schmitt stood out again on Wednesday, coming in first in the preliminary and semifinal 200-meter freestyle competitions to advance to the finals. She was joined there by teammates Shannon Vreeland and Megan Romano, whose respective second- and fourth-place times gave the Lady Bulldogs three swimmers among the event’s eight finalists. The 200-meter freestyle trials concluded on Thursday, when Schmitt broke her own American record with a 1:54.40 time that was the fastest clocked in the world this year. Vreeland, who took fifth in the finals, likely will join the U.S. team as an alternate.
Seemingly determined to compete in every freestyle event because freestyle is how we do it in America, baby, Schmitt won her heat in Friday’s 100-meter freestyle semifinals with an overall third-place time of 54.23, but the top semifinal time in the event was the 54.14 carded by former Bulldog Amanda Weir, who anchored four of the Red and Black’s five title-winning relays in Georgia’s 2005 national championship season. Alas, although Saturday’s 100-meter finals saw both women finish in the top five, Schmitt’s third-place showing left her 15/100ths of a second shy of qualifying in the event as part of her bid to become the second swimmer ever to win the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter freestyle competitions in the same U.S. Olympic trials. Weir, who finished fifth, remains a good bet to make her second Olympiad as a relay team member.
Also among the Bulldogs bound for England is John Isner, who will represent the United States in Olympic singles and doubles as the highest-ranked American male tennis player on the face of the planet. While former school record-holder and three-year All-American LaRon Bennett ended up eleventh in the semifinals of the 400-meter hurdles, seven-time Georgia All-American and Beijing Olympics silver medalist Hyleas Fountain captured her fifth national heptathlon crown in the U.S. trials in Eugene, Ore., where five-time Bulldog All-American and current school record-holder Justin Gaymon will be competing in the 400-meter hurdle finals tonight. Among Athenians originally from other countries, former Georgia middle blocker Elizabeth Reid will suit up for Great Britain’s volleyball team, and incoming freshman gymnast Brittany Rogers will represent her native Canada in the Olympiad.
While we’re on the subject of Canada, today is the birthday of our neighbor to the north, as it was on this date in 1867 that the British North America Act established that country. Exactly 100 years later, Pamela Anderson was born in British Columbia on July 1, 1967, so she turns 45 today. On this date in 1960, the Redstone Arsenal’s rocket development facilities near Huntsville, Ala., officially were transferred over to the newly-established National Aeronautics and Space Administration, becoming the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center. More pertinent for present purposes, of course, is the fact that today formally marks the date Missouri and Texas A&M enter the Southeastern Conference. Welcome, Aggies and Tigers! Starting tomorrow, we hate your stinking guts.