May 15, 2011
ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia sophomore Maria Augutis soared to a personal-best triple jump mark to be one of three Lady Bulldog scorers in the event to highlight the final day of the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Athens on Sunday.
Augutis finished the meet as one of four SEC individual champions for Georgia. Juniors Nikola Lomnicka (women's hammer), Brian Moore (men's javelin) and Matt Cleaver (men's 3000-meter steeplechase) also won during UGA's first SEC Championships in Athens since 1999.
In the team standings, the Bulldog men finished third with 99 points behind Arkansas (157.50) and Florida (140). This was the Razorbacks' third team title outdoors in the last four seasons.
The Lady Bulldogs wrapped up competition in fourth place with 94 points. LSU (146) ran away with its fourth championship in five years as Florida (116) and Arkansas (107) rounded out the top three.
"It was a long four days, but a great four days," said head coach Wayne Norton. "We had some people that did very well the first day, so that got us going. We didn't finish where we wanted to, but we're happy we finished. The high point for me was the women's triple jump where we took first, third and fifth."
Augutis, runner-up at the 2010 meet, was in a battle for the triple jump crown throughout the competition with LSU's Melissa Ogbourne. Ogbourne reached a mark of 43 feet, 2 ¼ inches on her fourth attempt to pass Augutis. But Augutis answered with a career-best effort of 43-7.25 on her fifth jump to clinch the victory.
This marks the first women's outdoor triple jump crown for the Lady Bulldogs since Patricia Sylvester finished first in 2006, which is when Georgia last captured a team title.
"I did not think it would happen at all," said Augutis. "I had a really bad season, but I was flying well today. The wind helps me so much because I'm so light. I was lucky that there was a tailwind today. It was a perfect day."
Senior Latroya Darrell, with her parents from Bermuda in attendance, shot to No. 7 on the school's all-time list with a third-place finish in the triple. Darrell opened with a mark of 41-11.25 before traveling a personal-best 42-9.50 on her second attempt.
Georgia's third scorer in the event was sophomore Saniel Atkinson. Atkinson, who was second in the high jump on Saturday, had a mark of 41-2.50 to finish third and give the Lady Bulldogs 20 points in the event.
Following a runner-up performance in the 10,000 on Saturday, senior Bridget Lyons also finished second in the 5000 on Sunday. The 2011 spring graduate was one second off her personal best as she clocked a 16:24.08 in her final home race to be Georgia's top scorer with 16 points.
Lyons will be attending dental school in the fall after deferring her secondary schooling a year so she could continue to compete for the Lady Bulldogs.
Junior Phillip Adams made a push in the final straightaway to finish fourth in the 400 hurdles for the Georgia men. Dropping his personal-best mark from 51.75 to 51.12 in the race, Adams improved one spot from his 2010 finish to tally another five points for the Bulldogs. He now sits fifth in the Georgia record books.
Slowed by hamstring tightness, junior Colleen Felix reached 147-6 on her third javelin attempt to take fourth. Felix passed on three of her six throws as she saved up for the triple jump. Unfortunately, the Grenada native was not able to compete in the triple jump later in the day after coming into the meet as the top seed.
Junior John Smith, who took second at the 2010 SEC outdoor meet in rainy conditions, managed a fourth-place finish in the pole vault. Smith cleared 17-0.75 on his opening attempt, but could not get over the bar at 17-4.50.
A third fourth-place finish came from freshman Megan Malasarte in the 800. Taking eighth at this year's SEC indoor meet, Malasarte stayed with the lead pack throughout her two laps and finished with a time of 2:07.12. This time was just two hundredths of a second from her career-best time in the event.
Adding three more points for the Bulldog men was junior Michael Ayers in the pole vault. Ayers, who was fourth in the decathlon, went over the bar at 16-6.75, matching his career-best mark, to finish sixth.
Freshman Hilenn James suffered through four fouls in the shot put but hit a distance of 50-10.75 on her fifth attempt to take fifth in the competition. James was fourth at her first SEC meet during the indoor season.
In the men's 4x100 relay, junior Torrin Lawrence opened the race before the baton was handed off to junior Phillip Adams, freshman Jevon Maynard and freshman Waymon Storey, respectively, to take fifth. The Bulldog foursome clocked a 40.37 as Florida (38.53) broke an SEC Championships meet record to win.
Individually, Lawrence finished a tenth of a second slower in the 400 finals than he did in the prelims to take fifth overall. Racing out of lane seven, Lawrence made his lap in 46.53 during his second event of the day.
Lawrence returned again to the track in the 200 finals and took sixth with a time of 20.96.
After earning runner-up honors in the hammer, freshman Justin Welch watched his second throw in the discus travel 168-11 for sixth-place honors.
Senior Georgina Nembhard made the best of her final individual race on the Spec Towns Track, taking seventh in the 100 finals with the second-best time of her career. Nembhard shot across the finish line in 11.39, which is just two hundredths of a second off of her personal-best pace set last season in Athens.
Junior Aaron LaGarde answered two fouls with a competition best jump of 51-10 in the triple jump. LaGarde finished seventh in the contest with the top three finishers hitting marks that measured farther than 55 feet. He was sixth at the 2010 SEC outdoor meet.
The Lady Bulldogs managed another point in the 4x100 relay. Junior Keisha Spates, Nembhard, senior Odeika Bent and freshman Ashley Ballard combined to clock a 45.54 to take third in the opening heat and eighth overall.
Freshman Brandon Lord finished one spot out of scoring after taking ninth in the 5000. The Chattanooga, Tenn., native scored at the SEC Indoor Championships in the 3000 after managing an eighth-place finish.
Also of note, junior Aaron Evans, who had the fastest qualifying time, pulled up in the final turn of the 800 with a leg injury and finished ninth.
Full results and a recap from each day at the SEC Outdoor Championships are located at georgiadogs.com.