May 31, 2014
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --- Georgia's track and field teams had two relays and one more individual qualify for the NCAA Championships to cap the finale of the NCAA East Preliminary in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday.
The Bulldog 4x100-meter relay squad, the 4x400 relay team and junior Carly Hamilton in the women's 1500 all finished in the top 12 to give Georgia 15 qualifiers to Nationals on the weekend. Twenty-two Bulldogs, plus a couple alternates for the relays, will head northwest when departure arrives in June.
"We finished the meet on a high note with both relays and Carly makiing it through," said Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton. "It was a successful journey to Jacksonville. But the meet was physically draining and makes me dislike Regionals all over again. The qualifying format subjects the athletes to another tough meet after conference championships and the only benefit is that lower ranked athletes get a chance to compete with the top athletes. The problem is that there is no benefit or advantage for those higher-ranked top athletes. As bad as the format is, we were able to make it through with only five casualities."
Freshmen Alex Poursanidis and Alex Larsson started Friday for the Bulldogs by both qualifying in the men's hammer. Senior Johnathan Smith (100), senior Megan Malasarte (800), junior Drew Branch (400 hurdles) and sophomore Leontia Kallenou and freshman Tatiana Gusin (high jump) followed on day two with top-12 finishes to also extend their season.
On Thursday, junior Brandon Lord (10,000), senior Elizabeth Tepe (hammer throw), junior Nick Vena (shot put), sophomore Freya Jones (javelin) and sophomore Chanice Porter (long jump) punched their ticket to the final round of the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., on June 11-14.
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.
With an invitation in the 100 already locked up for Johnathan Smith, the Apple Valley, Ca., native anchored and worked with sophomore Jamario Calhoun, freshman Reggie Glover and freshman Brandon Thompson to grab the 11th qualifying spot in the 4x100 relay on Saturday. The Bulldogs ran a 39.70, which is their third-fastest time of the year, to take fifth in the third heat as the 12th and final qualifier (Charlotte) also ran a 39.70 (actually 39.700 to finish behind Georgia's official 39.692 in the third heat).
Smith returned to the track in the 200 quarterfinal and finished four spots out of qualifying in 16th with a 21.08.
The Bulldog sprinters saved their best performance of the meet to wrap up their three days in Jacksonville. Sophomore Maurice Freeman, Branch, freshman Ayrian Evans and Glover sped to a time of 3:04.45 to take third in their heat, qualifying automatically, and sixth overall. This is the third-best time in school history and best since 2007. The foursome trimmed a second and a half off their finish at the SEC Championships two weeks ago. Evans 45.2 split helped set the tone for Georgia's run.
Hamilton missed qualifying for Nationals by two spots in 2013, but responded with a season-best time of 4:15.02 to qualify in the women's 1500 this time around. The Springboro, Ohio, native was third in her heat and third overall to advance to the first NCAA Outdoor Championships of her career. She is a two-time First Team All-American in the mile indoors.
Two hours later, Hamilton ran 12 and a half laps to take 44th in the 5000 with a 17:43.50. Another distance qualifier, Brandon Lord, ran in the men's 5000 and clocked a 14:50.22 for 33rd place.
Also in the 5000, senior Nicole DiMercurio closed out her Lady Bulldog career by taking 37th after running a time 16:56.26.
In the men's pole vault, Uibo cleared 15 feet, 11 ¾ inches on his third try to take 40th and junior Caleb Ebbets failed to reach a height. Uibo trained through this week in Jacksonville as he continues preparations for his second NCAA decathlon at the University of 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.
|Bulldog NCAA Qualifiers|
|Nick Vena||m. shot put||*66-10.75||2nd|
|Freya Jones||w. javelin||172-5||4th|
|Brandon Lord||m. 10,000m||29:54.84||7th|
|Chanice Porter||w. long jump||20-3||11th|
|Elizabeth Tepe||w. hammer throw||196-4||11th|
|$ Alex Poursanidis||m. hammer throw||220-2||1st|
|$ Megan Malasarte||w. 800m||2:02.31||1st|
|$ Leontia Kallenou||w. high jump||5-11.25||1st|
|Alex Larsson||m. hammer throw||214-2||7th|
|Tatiana Gusin||w. high jump||5-11.25||7th|
|Johnathan Smith||m. 100m||10.27||8th|
|Drew Branch||m. 400mH||51.12||10th|
|Carly Hamilton||w. 1500m||4:15.02||3rd|
|J. Calhoun, R. Glover, B. Thompson, J. Smith||m. 4x100m relay||39.70||11th|
|M. Freeman, D. Branch, A. Evans, R. Glover||m. 4x400m relay||*3:04.45||6th|
*personal-best mark; $Regional champion