Track Dominates With Champions As Both Teams Lead At SEC
Highlights of the Georgia Bulldogs from day two of the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
May 16, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. --- Georgia's track and field teams have won a total of five individual titles out of six events and both squads have an early lead at the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships in Lexington, Ky., on Friday.
The Bulldog men have scored 48 points thanks to seven scorers, three of those champions, and currently lead Arkansas (14) and Texas A&M (13).
The Lady Bulldogs have put 32 points on the scoreboard and have four scorers, two of those champions, while Arkansas (23) and Kentucky (13) make up the top three teams.
After senior Elizabeth Tepe won the Bulldogs' fifth consecutive SEC women's hammer throw on Thursday, men's freshman Alex Poursanidis battled rainy, windy conditions to give UGA a SEC sweep in the event for the first time since Andras Haklits and Katie McCoy accomplished the feat in 2001 (Haklits and McCoy also both won in 2000).
Later on Friday, freshman Kendell Williams locked down the Lady Bulldogs' first heptathlon crown since 2005 while sophomore Maicel Uibo won his second straight decathlon championship. Tepe, Williams and Uibo all set facility records with their performances.
Finally, junior Brandon Lord showcased a wire-to-wire victory in the 10,000 meters to give the Georgia men their first league crown in the event.
The Bulldogs also had four qualifiers on Friday. Senior Megan Malasarte (800), junior Charles Grethen (800), senior Johnathan Smith (200) and junior Drew Branch (400 hurdles) all extended their weekends in their respective events.
On Saturday, sophomore Chanice Porter in the women's long jump and sophomore Freya Jones in the women's javelin start the competition on at 1 p.m. The first event on the track is the women's 1500 prelims at 3:45 p.m.
"It was a big day for us," said Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton. "It was truly a great performance during our second day. You cannot beat competing in three events on the men's side and winning all three of them, you can't win all three of those and not like it. Not only did we win, but we also had multiple scorers in each event and if we keep doing that, we will have a super meet. We were hoping for around 40 points at this point for the men so this is a great start. We need a strong follow-up on Saturday and then we will be situated where we need to be for Sunday. Everyone is excited about our SEC champions since winning titles at this meet is no easy task.
"Men are doing great and the women are right there too. We went 1-2 in the heptathlon so big points in that event. Nicole DiMercurio came back in the 10,000 and secured big points for us. On the women's side we were hoping for at least 30 after day two and we are there so if we can keep it going then everyone is going to be satisfied with the results. I told the team that we just have to come out here and compete like champions and act like champions, and then things might just work out for us and we will be champions."
Poursanidis, a native of Paphos, Cyprus, who came into the event 14 feet behind the SEC leader, muscled his second throw 218 feet, 4 inches to top that conference leader, Alabama's Elias Hakansson (217-6), by less than a foot.
Poursanidis' throw was the second best of his Georgia career and gave the Bulldogs their first SEC title in the event since 2004 (Lucais MacKay) and their 11th since the event was introduced into the Championships in 1991.
Fellow true freshman Alex Larsson also answered the call in rough conditions and finished fourth for five points in the hammer. Despite three fouls, Larsson launched his fourth throw 211-3 to make a 15-foot improvement from his opening toss.
The Bulldogs were maybe most impressive in the multis. Georgia swept the decathlon and heptathlon and also had junior Garrett Scantling (7,675) finish second in the decathlon and junior Quintunya Chapman (5,527) earn runner-up honors in the heptathlon.
This marks the first time in SEC history that any school has had the first and second finishers in both multis and the first time since 2007 that both winners came from the same school (Tennessee).
Scantling vaulted to second in the decathlon standings with his personal-best finish in the 110 hurdles to jumpstart the day. The Jacksonville, Fla., native ran a 14.31 for his second consecutive career-best time in the event to score 935 points and top the nearest competitor by .44. Uibo was fifth in the 110 hurdles at 15.24 for 821 points to keep the lead.
Uibo wasted no time winning the discus by 20 feet after his opening throw traveled a season-best distance of 159-4 for 841 points. He also had a throw of 157-7 in his three throw series. Starting with two fouls, Scantling avoided disaster with a third safe throw of 132-7 to take fifth and score 673 points.
Forced into Kentucky's Nutter Field House because of the rain, Uibo cleared a personal-best height of 17-0.75 on his third try to win the pole vault and score 972 points. Uibo shut it down in the event after his clearance. Scantling finished one spot behind Uibo in second after soaring over the bar at 16-0.75 for 880 points.
Scantling helped secure his second-place finish by posting a convincing win in the javelin. He hurled his first try 207 feet to win by more than 22 feet and score 785 points. Uibo was sixth in the competition with a throw of 160-11 for 574 points.
Sporting a sizable lead and a comfortable spot in second, Uibo and Scantling quickly fell to the back of the pack in the 1500 during the decathlon's final event. Uibo completed his laps in 4:53.80 for 10th place and 596 points and left the track with a facility record through 10 events. Scantling pulled up the rear of the pack to score 530 points with a 5:05.21.
In what was only each of their second collegiate heptathlons in history, Williams topped the facility record of 5,596 (Tennessee's Marvena Almond, 1996) after scoring 5,877 points and Chapman managed a runner-up finish at 5,527. This was a significant improvement from Chapman's eighth-place finish in the pentathlon at the 2014 SEC Indoor Championships, which is also where Williams was second.
Williams and Chapman sparked their second day with personal bests in the long jump. Williams had two 20-foot jumps, including her final attempt of 20-5.75 (2.8 wind). This career-best effort tied her at the No. 9 spot in the school record books and scored her 924 points. Chapman, with help from a 3.9 wind, traveled 19-9 on her final jump to take second in the event and add 856 to her total.
In the javelin, Williams and Chapman had their weakest performances in their seven events. Williams lifted her opening throw 102-5 for ninth place (500) while Chapman watched her first attempt travel 102-1 for 498 points.
Already capturing the American Junior record in the heptathlon this season, Williams clinched her first conference victory with an eighth-place finish in the 800 (2:21.94). She tallied her final 797 points to finish 350 points ahead of Chapman.
Chapman, who needed to distance herself from Texas A&M's Jena Hemann after the Aggie moved into second place following a monster mark in the javelin (142-7), ran a personal-best time of 2:15.42 to score 887 points. Hemann was ninth in the 800 (2:22.04) and slipped to fourth in the final standings behind Arkansas' Alex Gochenour by five points.
The Lady Bulldogs got their final four points of the second day from senior Nicole DiMercurio in the 10,000. Battling to score at SECs for the first time and for a spot at the NCAA Regionals, DiMercurio nestled into the fifth spot in the field and stayed in that position for most of the meet. The Suwanee native finished in a career best 34:30.21, which ranks third on Georgia's all-time list and is the fastest for the team since 2007.
As soon as the final women's 10,000 runner cleared the track, Lord, junior Luke Baker and sophomore Steven Spevacek took the blue oval for the men's race. Temperatures were hovering in the upper 40s during the 25 laps and Lord was able to immediately take the lead and stay in the lead throughout. He ran a 29:36.24 to finish 14 seconds in front of the nearest competitor.
Baker battled in the pack behind Lord and runner-up Gabe Gonzales and came out of the race with a fifth-place finish (29:58.60). Finishing three spots behind Baker was Spevacek, who clocked a personal-best time of 30:22.45 to lock down the eighth and final scoring spot.
In the qualifying rounds, Malasarte won the second heat of the 800 prelims to automatically qualify for the finals and had the second-fastest time overall with a 2:05.95. The Fayetteville native answered an early charge from her competition by taking control in the final turn of the opening lap and cruised to her victory.
Malasarte races in the 800 finals at 3:40 p.m. on Sunday.
Racing in what proved to be the slowest heat, Grethen had to surge in the final straightaway to pick up his victory and automatic qualifying status. The Luxembourg native shot ahead of the pack in the final 100 meters and finished with the slowest qualifying time at 1:50.46.
Grethen returns to the track on Sunday at 3:50 p.m. for the finals.
Smith raced to a victory in the third heat of the 200 prelims to punch his ticket to the finals after finishing 18th in the prelims last year. The Apple Valley, Ca., native sped to a finish of 21.14, which was the ninth-best qualifying time. Also of note in the 200, freshman Ayrian Evans ran a personal best 21.31 to take 17th in the prelims.
The 200 finals will be run at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.
The Bulldogs' final qualifier on Friday was junior Drew Branch in the 400 hurdles. Fifth at last year's finals, Branch won his heat in 52.24 with the fourth-fastest time of the day (52.24).
Branch, who also runs on the 4x400 relay for Georgia, will race in the hurdle finals at 4:10 p.m. on Sunday.
Results and recaps from the SEC Championships will be located at georgiadogs.com. Updates about all Bulldog track and field news can be found on Twitter at @UGA_XCTF.
^back-to-back SEC champion; %facility record
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