Caleb Whitener hit 64 feet for the first time in his career to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
May 26, 2012
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --- Two more individuals and two relay teams added to the list of Georgia’s qualifiers for the national finals during the last day at the NCAA East Track & Field Prelims in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday.
Senior Nikola Lomnicka (hammer throw), sophomore Caleb Whitener (shot put), the men’s 4x100-meter relay team as well as the men’s 4x400 relay team punched their ticket to the NCAA finals with top-12 finishes.
Georgia completes the East Prelims with 15 qualifiers for the finals of the NCAA Championships, including junior Lucie Ondraschkova who earlier automatically qualified in the heptathlon.
“We pretty much hit the spot we needed to hit in all but three events or so this weekend,” said Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton. “We were able to put this many people in the Des Moines meet without doing anything truly spectacular so nobody is too taxed or worn out. I think we have a good number of people and we’re in a good place. I would say this weekend was a great success and now will try to enjoy the results of this weekend and recover over the next two weeks.”
Sophomore Hilenn James (shot put), sophomore Burke McCarty (discus) and freshman Allison Updike (javelin) became the first Georgia team members at the meet to earn a trip to NCAAs with their performances on Thursday.
On Friday, senior Matt Cleaver set a school record in the 3000-meter steeplechase to lock down his second consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships. Also on the track, senior Torrin Lawrence (400), senior Aaron Evans (800) and sophomore Megan Malasarte (800) all finished in the top five in their respective events to continue their seasons.
In addition, freshman Morgann Leleux (pole vault), sophomore Justin Welch (hammer throw) and junior Saniel Atkinson-Grier (high jump) all locked down their spots to the finals of the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 6-9 on Friday.
The top 48 competitors in every event from across the East Region were battling for the top 12 spots. The same setup was occurring simultaneously during the West Prelims in Austin, Texas. The 12 who qualified in each event at both the East and West Prelims advanced to the finals of the NCAA Championships.
Lomnicka launched the third-longest hammer throw over her last two seasons to win her event. Opening with a mark of 208 feet, 3 inches, which also would have won the competition, Lomnicka worked up to a sixth and final throw of 210-10, which is the ninth-longest throw in the nation this year and a season-best effort of Lomnicka. She advances to the NCAA finals after winning the 2010 national title and taking third at the 2011 NCAA Championships.
In the shot put, Whitener unleashed a career-best throw of 64-1.25 to finish third and qualify for his first NCAA Championship finals. Posting two other marks measuring more than 63 feet, Whitener now has the eighth-best throw in the nation this year as he improves his No. 3 spot in the Bulldog record books.
Georgia’s 4x100 relay team also locked down her spot at the NCAA finals by grabbing the first of four at-large qualifying spots. Senior Phillip Adams, sophomore Waymon Storey, junior Eric Harris and freshman Justin Scott-Wesley clocked a 39.89 to take fourth in the second heat and ninth overall.
The Bulldogs advanced to the 2011 NCAA finals in the 4x100 relay, but finished 22nd in the first round in Des Moines with a modified foursome because of injury problems.
Adams returned to the track with freshman Chris Foster, freshman Drew Branch and senior Torrin Lawrence as the quartet also qualified for the NCAA finals in the 4x400 relay with the fastest time for Georgia since 2007. The Bulldogs finished in 3:04.91 and were paced by Lawrence’s anchor leg of 44.22. This was the fifth-best time in school history.
A native of Jacksonville, Lawrence also qualified for the NCAA finals in the 400 during the weekend in his hometown. The four-time indoor All-American clocked a 45.74 in the 400 quarterfinals and won the 2010 NCAA indoor 400 title.
One tough spot for Georgia was in the women’s triple jump. All three Lady Bulldogs who competed failed to qualify, including senior Colleen Felix, who was ranked 12th nationally and who ends her career with two SEC titles in the event.
Georgia has 15 individuals or relays qualified for Des Moines. Ondraschkova got the opportunity to bypass the NCAA Prelims since the top 24 heptathletes and decathletes nationally earned an automatic pass to Des Moines. Ondraschkova is No. 21 on the list after scoring a season-high 5,443 points to take sixth at the SEC Championships. The Opava, Czech Republic, native was 17th at last year's NCAA Championships.
Full results and recaps from each day of the NCAA East Prelims will be found at georgiadogs.com.
Bulldog Qualifiers For The 2012 NCAA Championships
Name Event Mark/Place
Aaron Evans 800m ^1:47.31/1st
Nikola Lomnicka Hammer throw ^210-10/1st
Caleb Whitener Shot put &64-1.25/3rd
Matt Cleaver Steeplechase *8:41.86/4th
Allison Updike Javelin 157-7/4th
Justin Welch Hammer throw 216-5/4th
Torrin Lawrence 400m 45.74/4th
Megan Malasarte 800m 2:05.78/5th
Morgann Leleux Pole vault 13-5.25/T5th
Saniel Atkinson High jump 5-11.25/T5th
Burke McCarty Discus 183-2/6th
P. Adams, C. Foster 4x400m relay ^3:04.91/6th
Hilenn James Shot put ^52-8.75/7th
P. Adams, W. Storey 4x100m relay 39.89/9th
E. Harris, J. Scott-Wesley
$Lucie Ondraschkova Heptathlon ^5,443 pts./21st
* - school-record; & - personal-best mark; ^ - season-best mark; $ - Ondraschkova bypassed the NCAA East Prelims because she finished the season with one of the top 24 scores in the heptathlon nationwide