Feb. 9, 2013
BLACKSBURG, Va. --- Georgia's track and field teams won four events, set five new all-time top-10 marks and broke yet another school record during their meets at the Husky Classic and VT Elite Meet on Saturday.
Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton, who was with his team members in Blacksburg, Va., is satisfied with how his teams' regular season concluded.
"I am happy with how we are coming along and I am seeing many bright spots throughout these teams," said Norton, whose women's team has now set four school records during the 2013 indoor season. "This year's regular season has been as good a regular season as any in history at Georgia. But we understand that this is just the regular season and now we have to improve and perform at the Championships. When you have a weekend like this, it helps keep hope alive.
"There are many young and inexperienced newcomers on each team this year. People asked me before the season, `How are we going to be?' And I would tell them, `This is just going to be one of those wait and see years.' But over the last three weeks or so, our younger, inexperienced crew keeps getting better and although we don't have a lot of national leaders, we have some positive things brewing that I am excited about."
Sophomore Carly Hamilton highlighted the weekend by setting a school record in the mile at the Husky Classic in Seattle, Wash. Hamilton sped to one of the nation's top times this year after crossing the finish line in 4:36.06 to take ninth in the mile Invitational.
This topped Natalie Picchetti's mark of 4:38.66 set at the 2008 SEC Championships. Two weeks ago, Hamilton moved to the top of the school's all-time top-10 list in the 3000-meter run at the Razorback Invitational as well.
"This was a very strong meet for us, and shows that we are making progress though the season," said Bulldog distance coach Patrick Cunniff, who joined his corps on Washington's campus. "Our 5K runners really got the ball rolling in the right way on Friday night. They all ran hard and competed hard. Bret (McDaniel) ran a great last mile to move onto the all-time list. All four women ran indoor personal bests and Luke Baker picked up right where they left off."
Cunniff also said Saturday's action featured "solid efforts and one spectacular one."
"Carly Hamilton ran an awesome race," said Cunniff. "She was fast and poised throughout the race but really attacked the last 400 meters. It was fun to watch since she was so in control all the way to the line. Matt (Cleaver), Stella (Christoforou) and Megan (Malasarte) were all very strong and showed that they are running at a high level and getting excited to compete at SECs."
Norton has also been pleased with Hamilton's development.
"I talked to her all last year about what her potential was and she, like many freshmen, kind of had that glazed over look," said Norton. "But she is a super talented runner and after the cross country season she had, I think she started to gain confidence and realize that she belongs up there with the top distance runners."
Junior Megan Malasarte has now run four consecutive personal bests in the 800, including a pair recorded to end the 2012 outdoor season. Malasarte finished seventh in Seattle after crossing the Invitational finish line with the third-best time (2:06.42) in school history.
Her junior teammate Stella Christoforou was fourth in the regular mile with a career-best time of 4:48.26. This improved her No. 7 mark on Georgia's all-time top-10 list.
In the men's 3000, senior Matt Cleaver finished just a bit slower than his performance at the 2012 meet to take 12th (8:09.01).
A majority of Saturday's action came from the VT Elite Meet as Georgia tallied four wins and eight finishes in the top three.
True freshman sprinter Shaunae Miller nearly set her second record of the season, this time in the 200. The Nassau, Bahamas, native took off and finished in 23.26 to win her event with the second-fastest time in school history and the fastest for the Lady Bulldogs since 1996. Miller is now sixth on the national performance list in both the 200 and the 400.
Georgia had its most impressive meet of the season in the shot put as UGA swept the event on the men and women's side. In fact, the Bulldog men finished 1-2-3-4 thanks to a trio of personal bests.
Sophomore Nick Vena improved his No. 4 spot in the school record books with a throw of 62 feet, 10 inches. This puts Vena at 10th on the national performance list.
Miller's sixth throw traveled 60-5.25 to give him his third straight improvement. Novotny's sixth attempt measured 58-11.25 to strengthen Georgia's dominance in the event.
On the women's side, junior Hilenn James followed up her school record performance in the shot with the second-best outing of her life. James also saved her top effort for her sixth throw and picked up a two-inch victory with a heave of 54-7.50.
Georgia's fourth winner of the day was its men's 4x400 relay team. Chris Foster, Drew Branch, Corey Ashbourne and Eric Mills finished in a season-best 3:13.20 to give the unit its first victory of the year.
The Bulldogs also had success handing off the baton in the distance medley relay. Featuring a quartet made up of all freshmen, Zane Coburn, Kisean Smith, Wade Voyles and Zack Sims combined to finish in 9:58.83 for third place. This is the ninth-best time in school history.
Senior Saniel Atkinson added a third-place finish in the high jump after clearing 5-10.75 on her first try.
The Bulldogs take next weekend off before traveling to Fayetteville, Ark., for the SEC Indoor Championships on February 22-24. The NCAA Championships (March 8-9) will also be in Arkansas' facility.