Morgann Leleux: Runner-Up Honors @ NCAA Championships
June 6, 2012
DES MOINES --- Georgia true freshman Morgann Leleux finished second at her second straight NCAA Championships in the pole vault to highlight UGA's first day at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday.
A New Iberia, La., native, Leleux, who was also second at the 2012 NCAA indoor meet, earned runner-up honors behind Stanford senior Katerina Stefanidi to give the Lady Bulldogs eight points. The Georgia women are in a three-way tie for fifth place. The Bulldog men did not score, but had a qualifier in the men's 800-meter run.
"Today started off pretty rough, it was just one of those hot-cold days," said Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton. "There was a lot of ugly and a lot of good happening. The (women's javelin and men's discus) didn't jumpstart us like I would have liked since this meet is all about trying to get points on the board. But thank goodness we had a couple people qualify because that's potential for future points.
"As far as Morgann's performance goes, it was a little more dramatic and not quite how we expected it to go down, but she came in ranked third or fourth and took second at another NCAA meet so we have to accept that as a success. I'm proud of her and hope that her performance will be a stepping stone for some positive change on (Thursday)."
Leleux followed up her win at the Southeastern Conference Championships a month ago by clearing 14 feet, 5 ¼ inches on her first attempt to edge South Dakota freshman Bethany Buell for second. In a three and a half hour competition featuring five participants who soared over at least 14 feet, Leleux had to go to her third attempt at 13-11.25 before continuing her rise over three more heights.
This marks the best finish by a Lady Bulldog pole vaulter at an NCAA outdoor meet. Leleux is the first outdoor All-American in the event for Georgia since Kierney Jackson (Hiteshew) in 2006.
"This feels awesome," said Leleux, who is the school's outdoor record holder in the event. "I really didn't even know what place I had gotten but when I found out, I was really excited. Everything was totally off for me at the last height I cleared but I got it done. I kind of died out after that since it was such a long competition.
"With my freshman year done, now I'm ready for a big career. I'm ready to jump high and break some records."
Georgia also had two individuals advance to event finals on Wednesday.
With already a third-place finish on his resume at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships, Evans guaranteed himself for another shot at a national title by qualifying for the 800 finals. As usual for Evans, the Bermuda native stayed near the back of the pack through the first lap before surging to the front with 300 meters to go. His time of 1:48.24 won the second heat with only the 13th-fastest time on the day.
Evans is scheduled to race at 7:10 p.m. in the 800 finals on Friday.
"Going into this race, I knew I had to make it into the top two to make it into the finals and I wasn't worried about the time," said Evans, who won both the SEC indoor and outdoor titles in the 800. "We went out kind of slow but it wasn't a problem for me because I kept in good position and managed to come on with 300 meters to go and led the rest of the way.
"I definitely think being in the slowest heat will help me in the finals. I have a day to recover and will make sure my legs feel in good shape for Friday."
Sophomore Megan Malasarte passed her own school record by in the 800 semifinals to earn her a spot in the event's finals during her first trip to the NCAA Championships. The Fayetteville native hugged the inside for a majority of the race and managed to clock a career-best 2:04.18 to qualify automatically in the opening heat. Malasarte finished fourth in the 800 at the SEC Championships with a previous school record time of 2:04.34.
Malasarte will take the track again on Friday at 7:20 p.m. the women's 800 finals. She will attempt to earn the first outdoor All-America honor in the event for the Georgia women since 1998 (Angie Stanifer).
"I'll be honest, going through all of my preparation leading up until I stepped up to the start line, I was going through some nervous feelings in my stomach and in my head," said Malasarte. "But I finally told myself, `what is the point of being nervous at this point?' and I was able to take some deep breaths and relax. I knew it could have been my last this season if I didn't qualify. I'm pleased that I have another (personal best) and maybe I can have another on Friday.
"My plan in this race was to get in position behind LSU's Charlene Lipsey because I knew by the way she ran at SECs that she would get out hard with an honest pace. It was a little nerve-racking to be on the inside the whole race, but it kind of worked out when (Charlene) took the lead in lane two and I was able to slip into second in lane one. It kind of worked out to my surprise. Hopefully I will have that push to get a 2:03 on Friday because the whole field is amazing."
Freshman Allison Updike made her debut at the NCAA meet by advancing to the finals of the women's javelin and taking ninth overall. Updike, who won the SEC javelin title in late May, opened with a mark of 158-8 as her first throw ended up being her top mark.
This finish for Updike, who also had a throw of 155-6 in her series, qualified the true freshman for Second Team All-America honors. The final scoring spot, which is eighth place, went to Southern California senior Kristine Busa who finished with a top effort of 161-3.
In his first trip to the NCAA Championship finals, sophomore Burke McCarty qualified for Honorable Mention All-American honors in the discus. The Dunwoody native and Marist graduate bounced back from an opening intentional foul to reach a distance of 178-11 on his third attempt for 17th place.
The ninth and final qualifying mark for the finals in the discus trials was 190 feet, which was more than six feet farther than McCarty's personal best in the event. McCarty moved into the No. 9 spot in school history earlier in the season after reaching 183-7 at the Triton Invitational.
Senior Phillip Adams, sophomore Waymon Storey, junior Eric Harris and freshman Justin Scott-Wesley took the track in the 4x100 relay semifinals and finished 18th overall. The foursome clocked a 40.03 to take fifth in the third and final heat.
Harris and Scott-Wesley were competing at their first NCAA meet. Scott-Wesley ran for the Bulldogs after redshirting the 2011 football season as one of the team's receivers. The Georgia relay quartet qualified for Honorable Mention All-America honors with their performance.
Although he still has the 4x400 relay to run in on Thursday, senior Torrin Lawrence concluded his individual career on Wednesday. The Jacksonville, Fla., native was fifth in the fastest 400 heat and took 14th overall in the semifinals with a time of 45.98, failing to make the finals.
Lawrence completes his career as one of the more dominant SEC sprinters indoors in conference history. Not only did he set a collegiate record in the 300 that still stands (32.32), but he also owns three of the top-10 indoor 400 times in collegiate track and field history. Lawrence won the 2010 NCAA indoor 400 title to go along with the 2009 SEC 200 and the 2010 SEC 400 championships. He finishes as a four-time First Team All-American with three school records.
Live results and a recap from each day of the NCAA Championships can be found at georgiadogs.com.
* - First Team All-American; ^ - Second Team All-American; @ - Honorable Mention All-American; ! - qualifier for NCAA finals; $ - school record
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