Georgia Track Has 10 Move On At NCAA East Prelims
May 29, 2014
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --- Georgia's track and field teams had five members advance to the NCAA Championships and five more qualify for quarterfinal races during the opening day of the NCAA East Preliminary in Jacksonville, Fla., on Thursday.
Despite thunder and lightning delays earlier in the day, junior Brandon Lord (10,000 meters), senior Elizabeth Tepe (hammer throw), junior Nick Vena (shot put), sophomore Freya Jones (javelin) and sophomore Chanice Porter (long jump) managed to punch their ticket to the final round of the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., on June 11-14.
Another five Georgia team members advanced to the quarterfinal rounds of their track events to be held later in the current three-day meet.
All qualifiers for Eugene will be joining junior Garrett Scantling and sophomore Maicel Uibo (decathlon) and freshman Kendell Williams and junior Quintunya Chapman (heptathlon) who have already advanced to the NCAA finals in the multi-events.
Vena, a native of Whippany, N.J., exhibited the most dominant performance on day one. After recording four throws ranging from 60 to 62 feet, the 6-foot-4 Vena propelled his fifth attempt a personal-best distance of 66 feet, 10 ¾ inches to take second overall. This is the fourth-best throw nationally this year and moves Vena, who also had a toss of 65 feet in his series, past shot put legend Reese Hoffa for the second-best throw in school history.
Sophomore Ashinia Miller and senior Caleb Whitener fell short in their pursuit for an NCAA finals berth. Miller was just three spots away from the top 12, taking 15th with an effort of 60-10.50. Whitener, who had advanced to two NCAA Championships in his career, rounded out his time as a Bulldog by taking 29th (57-3).
Competitors experienced a delay between the first and second flights of the men's javelin and women's hammer throw to start the day. Tepe, who fouled out during her first shot at the Prelims in 2013, made the best out of her second opportunity. The 26-year-old married Marine veteran launched her second of six attempts 196-4 to finish 11th out of the qualifying 12.
Porter needed three attempts in the long jump to assure her another trip to the NCAA Championships. The Pratville, Jamaica, native traveled 20-3 and managed to slide into the next round in 11th place. Porter was 14th at the NCAA outdoor meet last year, but surged to a second-place finish at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships.
Already hearing this week that he was one of the SEC Co-Scholar Athletes of the Year, Lord complemented his classroom honor with his first invitation to the NCAA Track & Field Championships on Thursday night. He ran a 29:54.84 to take seventh overall in the 10,000 semifinals. This performance comes after Lord won the 10,000 at the SEC Championships and took second in the 5000.
Lord was also scheduled to race in the 5000 on Saturday at 8:05 p.m., but this could detour his plans for that race.
Also in the 10,000, junior Luke Baker concluded his season with a 37th-place finish (31:59.44). When the women ran their 25 laps, senior Nicole DiMercurio ran a 35:46.08 and was 30th in the 10,000 to end her year.
Jones had a top throw of 172-5 on her opening attempt in the javelin and cruised into the NCAA Championships with a fourth-place finish. The defending champion will be attempting to become the first back-to-back national title winner for the Lady Bulldogs outdoors since collegiate record holder Jenny Dahlgren captured a pair of hammer crowns in 2006-07.
Juniors Braydon Anderson and Scantling both threw in the second flight of the men's javelin and did not advance past their first three throws. Anderson finished 24th overall after his opening throw measured 205-7 while Scantling, who is the nation's top-ranked decathlete, was 41st after his only fair throw measured 187-2.
The Bulldogs also had an array of quarterfinals qualifiers. Junior Drew Branch sped his way into the 400 hurdle quarterfinals by winning the opening heat and taking third overall with his second-fastest time of the year (51.00). He clocked a personal-best 50.41 for runner-up honors at the SEC meet.
Branch races at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in the 400 hurdle quarterfinals.
Fellow junior Carly Hamilton, who missed out on qualifying last year for a trip to Eugene by two spots, moved her way into Saturday's quarterfinal by taking third in her 1500 heat and eighth overall. The Springboro, Ohio, native ran a 4:18.20 after already having a 4:15 on her resume this season. Hamilton is on the start lists to also run in the 5000 on Saturday.
The two-time First Team indoor All-American runs in the 1500 quarterfinals at 6:45 p.m. on Saturday.
Senior Johnathan Smith was one of the 24 qualifiers for the 100 quarterfinals after he registered a 10.45 to take 10th overall and second in the third heat. Smith, who is also planning on running in the 200 and on the 4x100 relay team this weekend, was 20th in the 100 at last year's NCAA Championships.
Smith runs in the 100 quarterfinals at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.
Junior Charles Grethen moved one step closer to advancing to his second consecutive NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 800. The Luxembourg native finished just .01 behind the winner of the sixth heat to have the third-fastest time of the meet (1:48.25). Grethen had the eighth-best time (1:47.22) in the nation coming into the meet.
Grethen will take on the rest of the finals field in the 800 on Friday at 7 p.m.
In the next race, senior Megan Malasarte finished just behind the overall winner to take second overall thanks to a two-lap time of 2:04.32. The Fayetteville, Ga., native was 13th at last year's NCAA finals after locking down a First Team All-America certificate in 2012 with a seventh-place finish.
Malasarte returns to the track in the 800 finals at 7:15 p.m. on Friday.
Also of note, sophomore Jamario Calhoun fouled out of the long jump, but is still scheduled to compete in the triple jump and run a leg of the 4x100 relay on Friday and Saturday, respectively. On the women's side, Chapman had one fair jump of 18-5 as she preps for Oregon.
Results and recaps from the NCAA East Prelims will be located at georgiadogs.com. Updates about all Bulldog track and field news can be found on Twitter at @UGA_XCTF.
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