May 12, 2013
COLUMBIA, Mo. --- Lady Bulldog Carly Hamilton won the 1500-meter run to highlight the final day of the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships Columbia, Mo., on Sunday.
In the team standings, 10th-ranked Georgia women finished fifth with 87 points. Texas A&M (117) won the conference team title during their first SEC outdoor meet while LSU (112) and Arkansas (109) took second and third, in that order.
The seventh-ranked Bulldog men scored 56 points and took fifth. Arkansas (152.50) clinched the championship with Florida (123) and Texas A&M (118) finishing as the runner-up and third, respectively.
"Our results overall were very good from this meet," said head coach Wayne Norton. "It's deceiving since we didn't break into that top three, but the teams are so good that we were realistically thinking third through eighth and fifth is where we ended up. We have been having these finishes the last three or four years and then a team like Texas A&M is added. Missouri also had an exceptional meet to start their run in the SEC.
"Everyone on our team put it out there this week and I am proud of their efforts. We are qualifying people in events like the 800 and 100 that we formerly weren't doing for a while so we are making progress. We didn't have the meet we thought we could since we didn't finish as strong (on Sunday). But we were still working hard all four days and fighting and I am hoping the best is yet to come this year."
Georgia had already won four SEC titles coming into the day. The women got a boost from senior Saniel Atkinson-Grier winning the high jump title and sophomore Morgann Leleux finishing first in the pole vault on Saturday.
Hamilton, a native of Springboro, Ohio, won her first career conference title after finishing the 1500 in 4:14.27. The sophomore steadily moved up in the field during the race until she was even with Florida's Cory McGee on the final straightaway. Hamilton then shot ahead to win her second consecutive race in the event with her second time under 4:15 in as many races.
This is the first SEC title for the Georgia women in the event since 1995 (Monika Ronnholm). Hamilton was disqualified in the mile at this year's SEC Indoor Championships but returned to earn First Team All-American honors with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
"Carly's performance was just out there," said Norton. "We knew she had talent and she started proving that this cross country season. The way she is running now, she has put herself in position to finish in that top six at nationals. Carly keeps getting better and better and better and she only improves as the competition she runs against improves."
"I knew the pace would go out really fast and there was a lot of talent in the field," said Hamilton. "I tried to be really calm and steady and then the last 100 meters I gave it everything I had and had a good kick. I knew I had a little left when (Cory McGee) took off so I wanted to be smart and make sure I had a little left for that last 100 and it paid off."
UGA had its second school record of the weekend fall when junior Megan Malasarte took the track in the 800. Fourth at the last two SEC Outdoor Championships, Malasarte completed her two laps in 2:03.23 for runner-up honors. This tops her school record of 2:03.57 set at last year's NCAA Championships and gives her the fourth-fastest time in the nation this year.
"Megan continued an outstanding stretch of meets for her and I am looking forward to see her progression as the postseason continues," said Norton.
Senior Leslie Boozer set the school record in the steeplechase on Saturday to take second.
The Georgia men went 3-6-7 on Sunday to score 11 points in the 800 final. Sophomore Charles Grethen finished his first SEC outdoor meet by finishing third with a time of 1:48.05. Three spots behind Grethen was senior Daniel Grass, who scored for the first time in an individual event with a time of 1:51.01 for sixth place.
The Bulldogs' third scorer in the event was freshman Kisean Smith after the Snellville native ran a 1:54.81 to finish seventh.
In only her third meet competing for the Lady Bulldogs, Jones finished third in the javelin with the second-best mark of her career. Jones, who had three fouls in the competition, opened with a foul before launching an effort of 165 feet, 10 inches.
"Freya is better than she finished, but I was pleased she got this result in only her third meet with us," Norton said. "Her performance is pretty much like this year's team. We are still better than we are showing but we are getting some good things done while we develop."
Another six points came from the Georgia women in the 4x100 relay. Freshmen Briana Vaughn, Rashan Brown, Shaunae Miller and Myasia Jacobs took third in their heat and third overall with a time of 45.16. The Lady Bulldogs managed this finish despite Jacobs suffering a leg injury in the final straightaway of the race.
"The fact that the 4x100 group still scored with Myasia's injury showed where our women's sprints are headed," said Norton. "We probably haven't scored in this event since Debbie Ferguson was on the team in 1999 so this was an accomplishment."
The Bulldog men went fourth and sixth in the discus to tally an additional eight points. Junior Burke McCarty saved his best mark for his sixth and final throw to take fourth with a 178-foot throw. This marks the second straight season he has finished fourth in the event.
Freshman Ashinia Miller, who was also sixth in the shot put, reached 170-9 for sixth place and followed that up with four fouls in his final five throws.
Junior Hilenn James competed in her first meet of the season and left the facility with a fifth-place finish in the women's shot put. Advancing to the finals with a third throw of 51-3.75, James returned to muscle her fifth throw 53-1, which is the second longest throw of her three-year career. This was only three-quarters of an inch of tying for fourth place.
"Hilenn had no meets this year coming into this weekend and she forced herself to get that shot out there far enough to score some key points for us," Norton said.
In the men's 400 hurdles, sophomore Drew Branch clocked a time of 52.74 to take sixth.
Also on the track, sophomore Tynia Gaither competed in the 200 finals and was sixth with the second-best time of her career. While LSU's Kimberlyn Duncan tied the meet record (22.35, No. 2 time in the world this year) of former Lady Bulldog Debbie Ferguson to win, Gaither finished in 23.29 to add three points to Georgia's total
"I thought Tynia's finish was outstanding with this type of talent running against her," said Norton. "She has scored in the 200 at all three SEC meets she has raced in so she is showing she deserves to be in meets with this level of talent."
Wrapping up the scoring for the Georgia men was the 4x400 relay team. Branch led off the relay as Maurice Freeman, Grass and Corey Ashbourne ran the final three legs to take eighth with a season-best time of 3:09.83.
Also of note, Miller did not start in the 400 after injuring her foot at the end of the 4x100 relay. Miller had not run the distance during the season until the prelims where she registered a 53.04. The Bahamian won the 2013 NCAA indoor championship.
Full results and recaps from the SEC Championships will be located at georgiadogs.com.
Georgia's next action will come at the NCAA East Regionals in Greensboro, N.C., on May 23-25. This meet will serve as the prelims to the NCAA Championships, which arrive in Eugene, Ore., on June 5-8.