A Trio Of Scorers Highlight Day Three At NCAA Track Championships

June 8, 2012

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DES MOINES --- Three Georgia team members scored points with First Team All-America performances during the third day of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday.

Junior Saniel Atkinson-Grier highlighted the day by tying for sixth in the high jump as her sophomore teammate Megan Malasartetopped her own school record in the 800-meter run to finish seventh.

On the men's side, senior Aaron Evanshad the third scoring finish of his career in the 800 at nationals to put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard.

The Georgia women are tied for ninth place with 14 points as LSU (40) and Oregon (40) have gotten into the race for the team title. The Bulldog men scored their first two points of the meet and are in a three-way tie for 53rd place while Florida (36) has taken the lead after three days in front of Virginia Tech (28).

Georgia's final competitor at the NCAA Championships will be sophomore Caleb Whitenerin the men's shot put at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday morning. The meet concludes following the women's 4x400 relay at 1:50 p.m.

"We have had two rough days overall with some scattered bright spots," said Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton. "Nikola (Lomnicka) salvaged (Thursday) for us by battling back and moving up to seventh on her last throw. And then today, our women have continued to do a very good job with Saniel in the high jump and Megan in the 800 showing a lot of determination and scoring our last points of the meet. Four of our seven women scored NCAA points.

"Our only men's points so far came from Aaron who ran a very good race against one of the fastest groups of 800 runners ever at an NCAA final. He ran his fastest race in two years at the biggest meet he has had in two years so you have to commend him for that. We were counting on him getting some help from his teammates this week."

Atkinson-Grier managed to equal her personal-best height of 6 feet in the high jump and split sixth place with two other competitors. After cruising past the first two heights of 5-8.75 and 5-10.50 on the first try, Atkinson-Grier cleared the bar at 6-0 on her second attempt. She then took on the challenge of 6-1.50 and despite narrowly clipping the bar with her foot on the second attempt, Atkinson-Grier was not able to reach a new career best.

She becomes the first All-American in the event for the Lady Bulldogs since Levern Spencer, who earned the honor in back-to-back years (2006, 2007).

"I'm really excited because this is the first time I have placed in the top eight at nationals and it's my best performance at nationals in my career," said Atkinson.  "I'm a little disappointed because I made (6-1.50) on my second attempt before barely hitting it.  So I'm torn between being happy and ready to get back to work.  I really feel blessed for the season I have had and I wish my parents would have been here to see it.  But I talked to them on the phone right after the meet and they were excited.  I have to give a ton of credit to Coach (George) Cleare for all he has done for me this year.  Now, I'm just ready to get back to Athens so I can hold that trophy and check it out again.  Next up for me are the (Olympic) Trials in Jamaica so I can't wait to jump high there."

During the high jump competition, Malasarte took the track in the 800 finals and became the first All-American in the event since Angie Stanifer during the 1998 season and third all-time. Malasarte advanced to the finals after besting her own school record in the event with a semifinals time of 2:04.18 on Friday.

In the finals, the Fayetteville native stuck in the middle of the back throughout the race and outran Boston College senior Caroline King for seventh place to add another two points. Malasarte clocked a 2:03.57 giving her the third time of 2:04 or better during the 2012 season.

"This is almost indescribable," said Malasarte.  "People are saying what I did and I'm hearing it, but I don't know what to say.  I didn't think I'd make it this far and get the time that I had been aiming for is a great accomplishment for me.  Honestly, I am happy with seventh place for this year because someone gave me the advice that to be someone at this meet you have to beat someone and that's what I did.  This was a great first experience for me at nationals and hopefully there will be more to come with better finishes in the future."

No stranger to the NCAA finals, Evans took the track one race before Malasarte and locked down the third First Team All-America performance of his career. With only one competitor in the final race running as slow as 1:47, Evans hung in the seventh or eighth spot through the first lap before making his move.

After weaving to the front of the pack, Evans surged into second place on the final straightaway behind eventual winner Charles Jock (UC Irvine, 1:45.59), but slipped to seventh in the final meters leading to the finish line. Evans completed the race with a time of 1:46.66, which is the fastest time for Georgia since the Bermuda native set a school record with a 1:46.26 in 2010.

The Bulldogs' last First Team All-America performance in the 800 outdoors came from Evans in 2010 after he finished third in Eugene, Ore. This marks the fourth All-America honor for the Georgia men in program history in the 800.

Improving 13 spots from his 2011 finish, sophomore Justin Welchhad a Second Team All-America performance in the hammer throw after taking ninth. Welch snuck into the finals after his third and final throw of the opening round traveled 209-4. But the Luckey, Ohio, native suffered two fouls in the competition, including one on his last throw, and could not improve on his third throw. Welch finished only three inches out of the final scoring spot behind Arizona junior Tyler Johnson (209-7).

Sophomore Hilenn Jamesexploded for the longest shot put toss of her career but still finished outside of scoring. James worked up to a personal-best mark of 54-3.25, which is more than a foot longer than her previous best throw, and finished 12th overall. A mark of 56-3.50 scored while Oklahoma's Tia Brooks ran away with the victory thanks to a round four mark of 60-6. This is expected to be a Second Team All-America performance for James.

After scoring the most points of her career on the first day of the heptathlon with 3,259 points, junior Lucie Ondraschkovascored 4,767 points for 22nd place after suffering no score in the long jump. Traditionally, Ondraschkova has had her dominant performances on the second day of the heptathlon with the arrival of the long jump, javelin and 800.

Ondraschkova wrapped up her seven events by taking 11th in the 800. She hung with the front pack in the opening heat and completed her two laps in 2:16.85.

In the javelin, Ondraschkova had her best try on her third attempt to take eighth in the competition. After hovering in the 120s through her first two throws, Ondraschkova watched her third throw travel 126-9.

Ondraschkova stalled her personal-best day one score after fouling out in the first event of the day, the long jump, on Friday. This opening performance slowed the momentum of a first day that featured two personal bests and two season-best marks.

Live results and a recap from each day of the NCAA Championships can be found at georgiadogs.com.

Georgia's Day One, Two & Three Results At NCAA Outdoor Championships
NameEvent/MarkFinish
*Morgann Leleux W. Pole vault/14-5.25 2nd
*Saniel Atkinson-Grier W. High jump/6-0 T6th
*Nikola Lomnicka W. Hammer throw/211-9 7th
*Aaron Evans M. 800m/%1:46.66 7th
*Megan Malasarte W. 800m/$2:03.57 7th
^Allison Updike W. Javelin/158-8 9th
^Justin Welch M. Hammer throw/209-4 9th
^Hilenn James W. Shot put/+54-3.25 12th
@Burke McCarty M. Discus/178-11 17th
@M. 4x100m relay 40.03 18th
!Aaron Evans M. 800m/1:48.24 13th
!Megan Malasarte W. 800m/$2:04.18 10th
^Torrin Lawrence M. 400m/45.98 14th
^M. 4x400m relay 3:06.52 14th
@Matt Cleaver M. Steeplechase/9:16.30 23rd

* First Team All-American; ^ - Second Team All-American; @ - Honorable Mention All-American; ! - qualifier for NCAA finals; $ - school record

Heptathlon Results - Day Two
NameLJJavelin800mTOTAL
Lucie Ondraschkova FOUL/-- 126-9/8th 2:16.85/11th 4,767/22nd

% - season-best mark; + - personal-best mark; LJ - Long jump

Georgia's Day Three Schedule - Friday, June 8
NameEventTime
Caleb Whitener M. Shot put 11 a.m. ET
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