Leleux Leads UGA At NCAA Track & Field Championships
March 10, 2012
NAMPA, Idaho --- Georgia true freshman Morgann Leleux grabbed a runner-up finish in the pole vault to highlight the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Jacksons Indoor Track in Nampa, Idaho, on Saturday.
The Lady Bulldogs wrapped up the meet tied for 28th with eight points from Leleux's career day. Oregon (49) won the women's side while Kansas (30) and LSU (27) were second and third.
The Georgia men scored nine points to tie for 23rd with Florida (52) capturing the team title and Arkansas (47) and Arizona (41) completing the meet as the runner-up and third-place finishers.
Leleux led Georgia's attack as senior Aaron Evans (800-meter run), senior Cory Holman (heptathlon) and senior Torrin Lawrence (400) had First Team All-America performances. Senior Colleen Felix (triple jump) and the men's 4x400 relay posted Second Team All-America finishes on the meet's second day.
Junior Saniel Atkinson also tied for 11th in the high jump on Friday night for another Second Team All-America performance.
Although UGA's combined finish is the best for the program indoors since 2001 when the women finished 13th and the men managed an 18th-place finish, Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton believes his team can still improve.
"As a program, we are disappointed because we had some things not go the way we wanted them to go," said Norton. "We have some emotional and physical pain after this one so it's hard to appreciate that this is an improvement from last year and a combined improvement from the last couple of years. We are going to get better outdoors. We have the talent and want to prove it this spring."
Leleux, with a host of friends and family from Louisiana in the crowd, posted five clearances in the pole vault, including a personal-best height of 14 feet, 5 ¼ inches. This performance was an All-America finish for the New Iberia, La., native as she finished as the runner-up in the competition and improved her No. 2 spot in the school record books.
Leleux kept the fans on edge after missing her first two attempts at 13-9.25. But after clearing the height on her third and final try, Leleux worked up to the top height of her career and soared over the bar to edge Stanford senior Katerina Stefanidi for second place. Only Arkansas senior Tina Sutej, who is the collegiate record holder, went higher than Leleux on the way to her second consecutive NCAA indoor title.
"Morgann came into the meet ranked second, but that doesn't always mean the number two person finishes second," Norton said. "There were so many girls who were up there around 13-9 and jumping well. It was a dog fight and Morgann responded very well. She should be an NCAA champion soon and she is someone who might surprise some people at the Olympic Trials."
Earlier in the day, Holman broke his own school record in the heptathlon with an All-America finish. Holman's sixth-place finish with a school record 5,873 points marks the most points scored by a competitor with that finish in NCAA history.
In fact, other than the sixth-place total of 5,831 in 2011, the next highest sixth-place total is 5,676 (2010, 2008). Duke junior Curtis Beach won this year's heptathlon with a facility record mark of 6,138 points. Beach's performance included a world record time of 2:23.63 in the 1000-meter run.
This two-day total topped Holman's previous school record of 5,825 set while taking third at the Southeastern Conference Championships two weeks ago.
"Cory gutted it out and scored in probably the deepest event at these NCAA Championships," said Norton. "I applaud his effort. He has battled back from a lot of adversity in his career and life and is proving he is a true competitor."
During the seventh and final event of the competition, Holman clocked a season-best 2:45.08 to finish sixth in the 1000, which was the second-fastest time of his career. His 818 points in the event enabled Holman to post an All-America finish for the Bulldogs, marking the first Georgia team member expected to earn the honor in this event in school history.
The pole vault, which is the heptathlon's sixth event, brought a change of landscape to the heptathlon field. The day one leader, Florida's Gray Horn, was injured during warm-ups and dropped out while Boise State's Kurt Felix, who was in fifth overall, no heighted in the event.
Holman reacted by recording a monstrous personal best in the pole vault, clearing the bar at 14-9 for 12th place after having a previous career-best mark of 14-1.25. He went over the bar at six different heights, including two that were personal bests. Holman scored 760 points thanks to his performance and moved into fifth place overall.
The Huber Heights, Ohio, native opened day by running his second fastest 60 hurdles time (7.99) of the season and third-fastest time of his career. This finish gave Holman second in his heat and third overall for 984 points.
His finish in the 60 hurdles moved him into third place after five events with 4,295 points.
The third scorer of the meet for the Bulldog men was Evans in the 800. Winning his first SEC title in the event two weeks ago, the Devonshire, Bermuda native made a 10-spot improvement from his finish at the 2011 finals to take fourth with a time of 1:48.95.
Evans was a First Team All-American after his third-place finish at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships and is expected to earn his second certificate of this kind following his performance at Boise State's complex.
"(Aaron) didn't do what he wanted since he believed he could win so he is disappointed," Norton said. "But he has made a great improvement from last year's indoor season and he is constantly getting better. Outdoors, he could really do some things and we will have some big expectations for him."
A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Lawrence finished fourth in his heat and eighth overall to record his third All-America finish in the 400 and add an additional point to Georgia's total. Holding the second spot for the first lap, Lawrence stumbled on the final straightaway and crossed the finish line in 47.42.
Lawrence returned as the anchor in the 4x400 relay. With senior Phillip Adams leading off, freshman Chris Foster, sophomore Waymon Storey and Lawrence combined to register a time of 3:11.44 to take fourth in the opening heat and 10th overall.
Lawrence completes his indoor career as one of the more decorated student-athletes in the sport's history. He won an NCAA title, three SEC championships and earned four All-America certificates while setting a collegiate record in the 300 (32.32, 2010 Hokie Invitational). Lawrence also finishes with three of the top-10 collegiate indoor 400 times in history with a 45.03 (4th), 45.10 (5th) and 45.23 (7th).
Competing in only one regular season meet in 2012 as she was slowed by nagging injuries, Felix had only one fair triple jump and recorded a mark of 38-4.75. This was Felix's second consecutive Second Team All-America performance after taking 10th at the 2011 NCAA indoor meet.
Following the weekend's final event, Norton is convinced his teams have the potential to be better.
"We have people who are a lot better than they showed this weekend," Norton said. "As a program, we have to do a much better job at being able to demonstrate what kind of ability we have when it counts. We have to get tougher."
Full results and a recap from each day's action at the NCAA meet will be located at georgiadogs.com.
$ - equals or surpasses personal-best mark;
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