March 24, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia freshman Morgann Leleux used her first outdoor meet with the Lady Bulldogs to tie a school record in the pole vault during the second day of the Georgia Relays in Athens on Saturday.
Thanks to a series of national-leading marks and victories, Georgia head coach Wayne Norton was impressed with his team's day two performance.
"Not to be too dramatic, but this has to be one of our best first meets in my 20-plus years as a coach," said Norton. "Part of it had to do with the ideal weather. But the meet went the way we wanted it to go. With a small meet like this, it allows us to focus and for everyone who enters to do what they want to get done. This meet, we kind of got to see where we are and next week (at the Yellow Jacket Invitational), we know we'll have people coming after us.
"We had a lot of personal bests today or near (personal bests) so that means there is potential there. And not just potential to be decent, potential to be really good. I am very excited about where we are now and where we can go from here."
Leleux, a New Iberia, La., native, cleared the bar on her second attempt at 14 feet, 3 ½ inches to tie a school record and move to the top of this year's NCAA performance list. Thorey Elisdottir previously held the record at 14-3.50 set at the 2001 Spec Towns Invitational.
Leleux, who also made three attempts at the Olympic A-cut height of 14-9, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships after clearing 14-5.25 in Nampa, Idaho, in mid-March.
Also soaring in the high jump for Georgia was junior Saniel Atkinson-Grier. Atkinson-Grier went over the bar at the country's top height this year (6-0) to cruise to her first victory of the season after clearing all four of her heights on the first try. Atkinson-Grier, who matched her personal best on Saturday, is coming off an indoor season where she was the runner-up at SECs and advanced to the NCAA Championships.
In the discus, sophomore Hilenn James exploded for a 39-foot personal-best effort in the discus to take over the national lead as well. James, who went from being unranked in the Lady Bulldog record books to No. 3, watched her fourth attempt travel 180-4. This is the longest throw for Georgia since 2000.
James opened the year at 141-4 last season before fouling out of five meets as she learned the event.
On the men's side, sophomore Burke McCarty bounced back from two consecutive fouls to win his second collegiate meet with a career-best mark of 180-10.
McCarty's top attempt was 10 feet passed freshman Ray Drew who took second with a 170-3. After practicing with the football team on Saturday morning as an outside linebacker/defensive end, Drew opened with his longest throw of the day to finish second out of the 15 competitors hours later.
Senior Matt Cleaver returned to competition on the Spec Towns Track for the first time since winning the school's first SEC 3000-meter steeplechase crown last May. Cleaver was the only competitor on Saturday to break the 9:00 mark after clocking a national-leading 8:55.74 to finish first.
Senior John Smith shot to fifth on the national performance list by winning the pole vault. Smith avoided the bar at 17 feet as sophomore Caleb Ebbets took over the No. 9 spot on Georgia's all-time top-10 list with a mark of 17 feet, to take second. In addition, freshman walk-on Cameron Meyer was third after clearing 16 feet.
The Lady Bulldogs went 1-2-3 in the women's steeplechase with junior Leslie Boozer claiming the victory. Boozer recorded the nation's third-fastest time this year (10:42.20) to top her teammate Stella Christoforou (11:07.13). Sophomore Savannah Kirk was the third-place finisher after completing her laps in 11:24.34.
The Georgia men also swept the top three spots in the 5000. Sophomore Luke Baker shot to a personal-best time of 14:54.45 to win the event after working with senior teammate J.P. Hackney for the entire race. Baker passed Hackney, who was second with a 14:55.46, on the final straightaway as junior Kyle James took third (15:29.95).
Returning after redshirting last outdoor season, junior Kristie Krueger opened 2012 by winning the 1500 with the sixth-fastest time in the nation this year. Krueger, who took control of the race from the starting run, recorded a time of 4:29.03 as sophomore teammate Megan Malasarte, running in her first collegiate race of this distance, was second (4:34.20).
On the men's side, junior Danny Neff earned runner-up honors after having a mark of 3:53.03. The third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place finishers were also Bulldogs as junior Fraser Reade took third with a career-best 3:53.26.
In the men's 4x100 relay, freshman Chris Foster, sophomore Waymon Storey, junior Eric Harris and senior Phillip Adams combined to clock the fifth-fastest time in the nation this year to open their season with a victory. The foursome sped to a 40.17 finish to leave a pair of teams behind them.
The same Bulldog foursome also left the field behind in the men's Gainey Special, which is a 100-100-200-400 race in honor of former Georgia head coach Lewis Gainey. Storey distanced the Bulldogs from the field as Foster increased the separation on the anchor leg and helped the team finish in 1:28.16.
The Lady Bulldogs won the Gainey Special in 1:44.03 in the women's competition. Junior Keisha Spates led off with freshmen Torrenzia Lyles, Taylor Hollingsworth and Quintunya Chapman completing the relay.
Competing in her first collegiate meet, freshman Allison Updike picked up her first victory in the javelin. Updike worked up to a mark of 156 feet to finish first and move into the No. 7 spot in the school record books.
Two-time defending SEC indoor triple jump winner Colleen Felix was second in the javelin. Felix, who won the triple jump on Friday, opened with a toss of 146-6 to top the third-place finisher by more than 25 feet. In 2011, Felix was fourth in the javelin at the SEC outdoor meet.
Sophomore Braydon Anderson opened his season with the second-longest javelin throw of his career to take third overall. Anderson, who had a personal-best effort of 218-2 for third at last year's SEC meet in Athens, launched his second attempt 215-11 before suffering three fouls to end the competition.
Competing in her final season for the Lady Bulldogs, senior Carin Walker hit a personal-best distance of 19-5.50 to win the long jump. Walker, who entered the day with a personal best of 18-6.50, had her best mark on her fifth try as she came back to edge East Tennessee State's Katerina Vodova (19-2.75).
Forty-nine year-old Roald Bradstock won the men's javelin after hitting a world-leading mark in the Master's division of 237-4 to win.
Senior Phillip Adams grabbed the top collegiate finish in the 400 hurdles after wrapping up his lap in 52.44. Former Bulldog All-American LaRon Bennett surged ahead of the pack in the final meters to win with a time of 51.56.
Also of note, junior Daniel Grass, a middle-distance runner, finished with second-place honors in the 400 (49.07) as he continues his training. Since Grass is used to races in the 800, he did not use the blocks in his runner-up performance in the 400.
Georgia returns to action at the Yellow Jacket Invitational in Atlanta starting on Friday.
Full results and recaps of both days of action at the Georgia Relays will be located at georgiadogs.com.