Lady Bulldogs Lead At SEC Championships
May 11, 2012
BATON ROUGE --- The Georgia women's team captured two league crowns to help the Lady Bulldogs surge into the team lead during the second day of the Southeastern Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Baton Rouge on Friday.
Despite an early rain delay, senior Nikola Lomnicka captured her third consecutive hammer throw title with the longest throw of her season early in the afternoon.
Later in the evening, senior Kristie Krueger completed her first 10,000-meter run at UGA by winning the event with the fifth-fastest time in school history.
Georgia also had a combined seven scorers who finished second through eighth place in a variety of events and six qualifiers for event finals on Friday.
In the team scores, the Lady Bulldogs are leading the meet with 26 points as Arkansas (18) and LSU (17) are in second and third. On the men's side, the Bulldogs are holding down third place with 21 points as Arkansas (49) has jumped out to a lead with Florida (23) in second.
"Overall, I think we are in very good shape compared to where we could be," said Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton. "Our champions set the table for our team and hopefully this will get the ball rolling for the next two days."
Lomnicka, a Nitra, Slovakia, native, launched a season-best throw of 205 feet, 9 inches to top LSU's Brieanna Kennedy (195-6), who came into the meet with the league's longest throw in 2012. Only Florida's Candice Scott (2002-04) has matched Lomnicka with three SEC hammer championships as the Georgia women have now won eight titles since the event started in the conference in 1997.
"It feels great to win my third title and I am happy that it means 10 points for Georgia," said Lomnicka. "It's nice to get a `w' at my last SEC meet. I had a season-best mark but I also had a much longer foul on my sixth throw which gives me confidence for Nationals."
Lomnicka, who was in the second of two flights, had to wait an extra 30 minutes to throw on Friday after a lightning delay at the Bernie Moore Track & Field Stadium. There was a steady rain throughout the morning competition.
"I don't mind throwing in the rain because it usually make the throwing circle faster," Lomnicka said. "But LSU's circle is fast even when it's not raining so it took me until my final throw to know what speed I should turn."
"This win for Nikola was one of those that went back to a ton of hard work and overcoming adversity," said Norton. "She is now a three-time champion and it's because she battled back from some surgery and setbacks and was determined to get back to this level. We traditionally do well in this event and I'm glad we were able to win again and validate that identity. We don't look like we are going to be a 150-point team this year so 10 points is very important to our cause."
Krueger took the track in the second to last event of the day and blistered the field with a 15-second victory. The 2010 SEC cross country champion immediately shot to the front of the pack with Arkansas freshman Dominique Scott. But with only a couple laps done, Krueger shot past Scott and increased her lead more and more as the race progressed.
This marked the first 10,000 of Krueger's career after the Argyle, Texas, native set the school 5000 record last month. Her title in the event is the second for the Lady Bulldogs in the last three seasons after Bridget Lyons captured the 2010 crown and fifth all-time since 1981.
"I was so tired, that was a really long race," said Krueger. "I'm not used to racing for that distance but I guess it went pretty well. The hardest thing was that the pace was so slow. I felt like I was jogging so it was tough having the patience to keep that speed. When we got to the last three miles, I just told myself to hang in there and it worked."
Krueger was forced to redshirt the 2011 indoor and outdoor seasons as she battled leg injuries. Now, she working to return to the form that earned her indoor All-American honors in the mile during 2010.
"It's a relief to be back racing and I am so grateful and appreciative of moments like this," Krueger said. "Experiences like I went through make you not take any days for granted. I'm happy to be contributing again to this team after redshirting last year."
"In her first 10k, she handled the field easily and made the statement that she is indeed one of the best distance runners in this conference," said Norton. "I think this kind of re-established her after all of the injuries she has overcome. It showed everyone that Kristie and Georgia are alive and kicking."
The Bulldog men managed two points from a seventh-place finish when their 10,000 was complete. Junior Brian Detweiler, also running in his first collegiate 10,000, wrapped up the race in 30:31.44 to give Georgia its final points of the day.
Following Lomnicka's lead in the hammer, sophomore Justin Welch finished second in the men's competition. Welch muscled his fifth attempt out to a season-best mark of 218-11 to finish just five feet behind the champion. This is the second straight time that Welch has earned runner-up honors at the SEC meet.
The Bulldogs scored a combined 11 points from three scorers in the decathlon, marking Georgia's first points of the meet. Senior Michael Ayers scored a season-best 7,416 points as senior Cory Holman finished fifth (7,196) and freshman Garrett Scantling, who failed to score any points in the 110 hurdles, was seventh (6,331).
Scantling posted a seven-foot personal best in the discus to take third. The Jacksonville, Fla., native watched his final attempt travel 128 feet. Ayers and Holman went 5-6 in the event as Holman finished with a season-best throw of 111-2.
Scantling hit the second-best mark of his career later in the javelin (187-3) to take second. Ayers was fourth (174-4) in the competition while Holman wrapped up the Bulldog scorers in sixth (145-6).
Ayers demonstrated his usual strength in the pole vault to take second in the competition. He cleared 15-11 to earn runner-up honors to eventual meet champion, Arkansas' Kevin Lazas (7,778). Scantling was third in the event with a clearance of 14-3.25 as Holman took sixth.
In the middle of the steady rain, Holman managed to win the 110 hurdles after recording a time of 14.41. Ayers finished fifth with a time of 15.65 while Scantling was disqualified for a striking a hurdle with his hand.
The trio wrapped up their 10 events with the decathlon's 1500. Georgia finished fourth through sixth after all finishing between 5:01 and 5:12.
Junior Lucie Ondraschkova used a pair of personal-best efforts to help her finish sixth in the heptathlon. Ondraschkova scored a season-high score of 5,443 points to add three points to the Lady Bulldogs' total.
In the seventh and final event, Ondraschkova sped from the back of the pack during the second lap to clock the fastest time of her career in the 800 (2:14.28) and add 903 points to her total.
Ondraschkova improved almost 11 feet on her last attempt of the javelin to surge into third place in the event. She lifted her third throw a personal-best distance of 138-7 to finish just six inches behind the second-place finisher.
Ondraschkova opened her day two by traveling 18-7 on her opening attempt to take third in the long jump.
There were also six Georgia team members who made it their mission to make their finals on the track. In the men's 800 prelims, senior Aaron Evans, who captured his first conference title at the SEC indoor meet, qualified automatically for the finals by winning his heat and taking third overall. Evans crossed the finish line in 1:50.15 ahead of Arkansas freshman Patrick Rono (1:50.20).
Junior Daniel Grass also qualified for the 800 finals with a runner-up performance in the opening heat. Following the final heat, Grass clinched his spot in the finals with the second-best time of his career at 1:50.99 (ninth overall) for the fifth and final at-large spot. This will mark Grass' first trip to the SEC finals after he took 12th in the 800 prelims indoors this year.
Evans and Grass will return to the track in the 800 finals at 5:50 p.m. ET on Sunday.
The Bulldogs were also 2-for-2 in qualifying for the 400 hurdle finals. Senior Phillip Adams posted a second-place finish in the third heat (fifth overall) with a time of 51.21 as freshman Drew Branch tallied his second straight personal best with a 51.29 to take second in his heat and sixth overall. Branch moved from the back of the pack in the final turn and leaned at the finish line to grab the second automatic qualifying mark in his heat.
The Georgia pair will race in the 400 hurdle finals at 6:10 p.m.
Sophomore Megan Malasarte qualified for the 800 finals the hard way after finishing third in her heat. Since only the top two finishers in each heat qualify automatically, Malasarte, who ran in the opening heat and finished with the second-best time of her career (2:06.55), had to wait until the end of the third heat before realizing she had the second best at-large time to qualify for the finals.
Malasarte will race at in the 800 finals at 5:40 p.m. on Sunday.
Sophomore Waymon Storey was second in the fourth heat of the 200 prelims (finishing behind the overall winner, Mississippi's Isiah Young) and was fourth overall to qualify for the finals. Storey crossed the finish line in 21.04 after taking 13th in last year's prelims and not advancing to the final round.
Storey meets the rest of the 200 finalists on the track at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Competition cranks up on Saturday at 3 p.m. with the women's javelin. UGA freshman Allison Updike is the SEC leader in the event. The women's 1500 prelims is the first event on the track at 5:30 p.m.
Live results and recaps from each day's action at the SEC Championships can be found at georgiadogs.com.
* - season-best mark; ^ - personal-best mark; & - three-time SEC champion
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