Track Has Record-Breaking NCAA Finish
Highlights and interviews following Georgia Track and Field's historic finish to the NCAA Championships.
June 10, 2017
EUGENE, Ore. --- The Georgia women's team set a school record by taking second with the No. 1 score in team history (62.2 points) at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday.
With the last day of women's competition arriving on Saturday, meet host Oregon edged the Lady Bulldogs 64-62.2 by winning the 4x400-meter relay for 10 points in the final event of the competition. Southern California (43), Kentucky (40) and Florida (39) rounded out the top five as five different teams from the Southeastern Conference finished in the top 10.
On Friday, the Bulldog men finished with 22.5 points for sixth after sophomore Keenon Laine left Hayward Field with a tie for fourth in the high jump. Florida (61.5) captured the team title and Texas A&M (59.5), Virginia (36), Arkansas (33) and Auburn (24) made up the top five team finishers. Eight SEC men's teams were in the top 10.
This overtook the previous best combined finish of sixth for the men and fifth for the women in 2014.
"This second-place finish is kind of bittersweet since we came within two points of winning a national championship for our women's team," said Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou. "This one will take a while to get over but I think as time passes and we look back, we will be proud of how great a year this has been. We met or surpassed school records for our men and women's team finishes at the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets and finished the year with two finishes in the top six.
"I want to congratulate Robert Johnson and the Oregon Ducks for this title, their first at their home track. They did a great job and finished the meet like they had to. But I am very proud of how our teams fought. To complete this weekend with a win in the triple, a win in the heptathlon and a 1-2 finish in the high jump is incredible. I have said it before but this is why our student-athletes want to come to Georgia. And I hope this strengthens our tradition even more and I believe we will be in position to win this thing in the years to come."
Georgia surged into contention with three NCAA champions on Saturday as senior Kendell Williams won her third NCAA heptathlon crown, junior Mady Fagan walked away with her first outdoor national high jump crown and junior Keturah Orji captured her third consecutive triple jump championship to highlight the meet's fourth and final day. Also, junior Tatiana Gusin matched Fagan's school record height in the high jump to earn runner-up honors.
Bringing no team members to compete on the track and nine to compete in six field events, the Lady Bulldogs set a meet record for points scored in the field events only (Arizona State, 59, 2008). The Georgia women also became the first group to record NCAA titles in the long, triple and high jumps in the same year.
Williams, a native of Marietta, Ga., scored 6,265 to capture her third NCAA heptathlon title (2014, 2016) and her seventh national championship overall to end her career. Her final tally was the second best of her career behind her 6,402 school record at the 2016 Olympic Trials, which was also scored at Hayward Field.
Williams becomes only the third competitor in NCAA history to win at least three national heptathlon crowns. Oregon's Brianne Theisen captured the 2009-10 championships and then the 2012 title while Arizona State's Jackie Johnson won the 2004 crown and then three straight from 2006-08.
Georgia finished with 13 First Team All-America scorers. On Thursday, the Lady Bulldogs finished first and second in the long jump with redshirt freshman Kate Hall winning her first title and Orji reaching 22 feet for the first time in her career. True freshman Beatrice Llano unloaded a career-long hammer throw toss to take third and redshirt freshman Kayla Smith added .20 points to her team's total by tying for eighth in the pole vault.
Senior Devon Williams scored the second-highest decathlon point total of his career on Thursday to finish second in the only men's event of the day.
On Wednesday, sophomore Denzel Comenentia complemented his fifth-place finish in the hammer throw with another fifth-place showing in the shot put. His senior teammate, Alex Poursanidis, wrapped up his four years with the Bulldogs by earning an expected First Team All-America certificate with a seventh-place finish in the hammer.
Just as she had in the heptathlon 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200m on Friday, Williams competed in the long jump for the final time in the Red and Black and ended with a personal record. Opening with a mark of 20 feet, 7 inches that also would have taken second in the event, Williams built to a 21-1.50 for 988 points. This surpassed her previous career best in the hep's long jump of 21-1.25 set while taking second in the event and second overall at the 2015 meet.
Williams started the sixth event, the javelin, up by 215 points. By the last throw, Williams' lead had grown with her second personal best of the day. She started with a 128-0, followed with a 133-4 and completed her series with the longest throw of her career (152-6). This earned Williams 792 points after surpassing her former personal record of 138-6 at the Olympic Trials in Eugene last summer.
Williams completed her highest heptathlon total in her career at the NCAA Championships by finishing off with a 2:26.17 in the 800m. Her finish scored her 742 points and helped complete her 306-point victory.
Orji, a native of Mount Olive, N.J., opened with a triple jump mark of 45-2.25, which would have won the title by three and a half inches. The American and collegiate record holder then traveled a wind-aided (3.3 m/s) distance of 46-10.75 and significantly widened her victory margin. Orji's winning mark measured as the fourth-longest wind-aided effort in collegiate history.
Orji has now won five NCAA triple jump titles, including two indoors and all three outdoors.
Fagan, a native of Los Gatos, Calif., arrived at Nationals as the 2017 NCAA indoor champion and the 2016 national outdoor runner-up. On Saturday, Fagan reached her former career best of 6-2 on her third try to stay in the competition with Gusin. Fagan then followed that up with an opening clearance at a school record mark of 6-3.25.
Gusin, who hails from Orhei, Moldova, stayed clean with no misses through her first four heights, including at 6-2 which equaled her personal best. Moments later, Gusin tied Fagan's school record of 6-3.25. However, Gusin's clearance came on her third attempt giving her teammate top honors. This marks Gusin's fourth First Team All-America certificate, including her second-place finish at this year's NCAA indoor meet and a fifth-place finish at the 2015 outdoor Nationals.
Also of note, sophomore Aliyah Johnson left the Oregon campus with a Second Team All-America honors after taking 14th in the triple jump (43-0.25).
Updates from Georgia's track and field and cross country teams can always be found on Twitter/Instagram (UGATrack) and Snapchat (ugatrack).
*personal-best mark; ^season-best mark (in heptathlon); DNF-Did Not Finish; DNS-Did Not Start
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