ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia track and field teams traveled to Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday in preparation for the NCAA East Prelims, which will run at South Florida’s facility from Thursday through Saturday.
The third-ranked Lady Bulldogs and fourth-ranked Georgia men took a combined 29 team members and have a total of 33 entries, including the Bulldogs’ 4×100-meter relay squad. There are 48 competitors from the East Region in every individual event and 24 teams in each of the relay races.
The NCAA West Prelims will be running simultaneously in Sacramento with the same format. The top 12 in each event and from both regions will advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., on June 6-9.
Three Georgia team members have earned the right to skip the Prelims and qualified automatically for the NCAA Championships. Senior Karl Saluri and freshman Johannes Erm (decathlon) and sophomore Louisa Grauvogel (heptathlon) are all ranked in the top seven nationally and have been included in the field already.
When Do The Bulldogs Start Competition? Junior Denzel Comenentia, who is No. 2 on the national list in the hammer throw, and senior Alex Larsson will begin the meet in the hammer at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday. Sophomore Tairyn Montgomery and freshman Marie-Therese Obst will start for the women in the javelin at 1:30 p.m.
Georgia’s first event on the track will the first round of the men’s 1500m at 1:30 p.m.on Thursday. Senior Henry Dwyer will be the sole Bulldog representative in this race. Freshman Lynna Irby comes into the meet ranked fifth nationally in the 400m and will be the first Lady Bulldog on the track in first round of the 400m at 3:45 p.m.on meet’s first day.
With thunderstorms in the forecast for all three days of competition, the NCAA moved start times to the early morning rather than mid-day for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Live Results: For live results between Thursday and Saturday, please click on: http://gado.gs/93n.
Kyprianou’s Comments: “Everyone is set and ready to go here in Tampa. Weather doesn’t look promising but that’s for everyone to deal with and this is just outdoor track’s natural habitat,” said head coach Petros Kyprianou. “We must continue to go by our motto of doing simple things extraordinarily well with laser focus and get the job done this weekend. The objective is to advance as many student-athletes to Eugene as we can. There are no excuses and everyone is expected to give their all. It starts with the staff and student-athletes as we have been talking about our expectations at NCAAs all year long. This is our time to prove many people right or wrong. This is not the time for celebrations but for hard, old-school grind and focus.
“I’m excited to see how we respond to adversities possibly delivered by Mother Nature. There are a lot of hungry teams from all over our region that want that golden ticket to Eugene. We have to be one of them and not be complacent with who we think we are. Go Dawgs!”
What Bulldogs Are Competing: The Lady Bulldogs have qualified the following competitors: seniors Tatiana Gusin (high jump), Emily Savage (pole vault), Keturah Orji (long and triple jumps), Aliyah Johnson (triple jump), sophomores Kate Hall (long jump), Montgomery (javelin), Micaiah Ransby (200m), Amber Tanner (800m), Jessica Drop (5000m), Samantha Drop (10,000m), Yanely Gomez (10,000m) and freshmen Tara Davis (100m hurdles, long jump), Obst (javelin) and Irby (200m, 400m).
The Bulldog men will be traveling this group: seniors Cejhae Greene (100m, 4x100m relay), Dwyer (1500m), Bryan Kamau (5000m), Jon Moses (10,000m), Larsson (hammer throw), juniors Kendal Williams (100m, 200m, 4x100m relay), Jeramey Hampton (800m), Austin Sprague (10,000m), Michael Nicholls (110m hurdles), Keenon Laine (high jump), Comenentia (shot put, hammer throw), Raytez Jenkins (4x100m relay), sophomore Darius Carbin (high jump) and freshmen Justes Nance (4x100m relay) and Antonios Merlos (high jump).
How The Dogs Fared At The 2017 NCAA East Prelims: With Kendell and Devon Williams, Grauvogel and Saluri already qualified in the combined events, Georgia left last year’s meet in Lexington, Ky., with 17 more qualifiers, including the men’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams.
Eight of the student-athletes who advanced in nine different events are on this weekend’s trip for the Bulldogs.
A Flashback From The 2017 NCAA East Prelims: Georgia traveled to the University of Kentucky for last year’s meet and it included a host of performances that helped build momentum going into the NCAA Outdoor Championships:
- Laine cleared 7 feet, ½ inches and tied for the high jump win. He went on to tie for fourth at Nationals to earn a First Team All-America certificate.
- Comenentia lifted the shot put 62-3.25 to qualify and then turned around and went 64-5 at NCAAs to take fifth.
- The Bulldogs finished with a pair of scorers at the NCAA Championships in the hammer throw after Comenentia reached 230-3 and graduated senior Alex Poursanidis hit a mark of 228 feet to take third and fourth at the Prelims.
- Senior Mady Fagan, who is redshirting this season, and Gusin cruised to 5-11.50 clearances in Kentucky before posting matching clearances of 6-3.25 to take first and second, respectively, in Oregon.
- Sophomore Kayla Smith, who is not competing for Georgia this outdoor campaign, snuck into the NCAA field with a personal-best pole vault clearance of 13-9.25. She then scored for the Lady Bulldogs by tying for eighth at Nationals.
- Hall reached a then school record mark of 21-11 to win the long jump while Orji went 21-7.50 to be the fourth qualifier. The UGA duo then went 1-2 at the NCAA Championships.
- Orji won the triple jump easily and then went 46-10.75 to win her third consecutive NCAA title in the event.
- Beatrice Llano, who transferred out after her freshman season, was second at the NCAA East Prelims and then third at Nationals with the second-best mark in school history (221-2).
A Glimpse From The Dogs’ Last Action: The Bulldogs started the postseason at the Southeastern Conference Championships in Knoxville, Tenn., on May 11-13.
Here is a breakdown of Georgia’s highlights from Knoxville:
- Irby clocked the second-fastest time in school history of 22.25, which leads the country, to win the Lady Bulldogs’ first 200m crown since 1999.
- Jessica Drop positioned herself in second place in the 5000m and never relinquished the spot to earn runner-up honors with a 16:15.30.
- Gomez proved to be one of the meet’s surprises with a third-place finish in the 10,000m thanks to her time of 35:13.47.
- Gusin captured her second straight SEC outdoor title in the high jump with a 6-0 clearance.
- Orji became the first competitor since 2010 to win both the long jump and triple jump at the SEC outdoor meet. She took over the national lead with her school record mark of 22-4.25 in the long jump.
- Orji returned in the triple jump and became the first SEC competitor in history to win the same event for four years straight indoors and outdoors with her collegiate record mark of 47-11.75. She now owns the top six legal marks in collegiate history as well as the three out of the top four wind-aided efforts ever.
- Obst posted a personal-best javelin mark of 158-6 to take sixth and position herself to qualify for NCAAs in her first year.
- For the first time since Mel Lattany accomplished the feat for the Bulldogs in 1981, Williams swept the 100m and 200m at SECs. He registered a national leading time of 9.99, which is a UGA record, to win the 100m and a 20.15 in the 200m (No. 2 on Georgia’s all-time list and best since Lattany’s 20.14 in 1979; No. 6 nationally in 2018).
- Greene sped to a season-best time of 10.14 to take fourth in the 100m and give the Bulldogs two potential high scorers in the event at Nationals.
- Laine took third in the high jump (7-3.25) a year after winning the event. His freshman training partner Antonios Merlos also scored thanks to a career-best mark of 7-1.
- Comenentia became the first SEC competitor since 2008 to finish first in both the shot put and hammer for two years in a row. He surged to second on the national list with a personal-best mark of 68-6 in the shot and stayed consistent with a mark of 249-1 in the hammer. In addition, Comenentia placed sixth in the discus with a mark of 185-1.
Results and recaps from the NCAA East Prelims will be found at georgiadogs.com. News and updates from Georgia’s track and field and cross country teams are always located on Twitter/Instagram at @UGATrack.