Sophomore Morgann Leleux returns for the Lady Bulldogs after earning First Team All-American honors during both the 2012 indoor and outdoor seasons.
Jan. 18, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia’s track and field teams open their 2013 indoor season at the Birmingham Crossplex for the Auburn Invitational on Saturday morning.
The women’s weight throw is the meet’s first event at 10 a.m. ET. The women’s 3000-meter run (Section 2) is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. to kick off the track events. The Lady Bulldogs start their campaign ranked 17th in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) preseason poll.
Approximately 25 of the 44 student-athletes traveling for Georgia will be seeing their first indoor action as a Bulldog. This will mark the first meet during the two-month indoor season before the outdoor season cranks up with the Georgia Relays in Athens on March 15-16.
“We are really looking forward to this first meet because we have a large number of newcomers on the team as well as several redshirt freshmen and sophomores who will be getting a chance to compete,” said head coach Wayne Norton, whose 2013 women’s recruiting class was ranked fourth nationally. “Training has gone well so conditioning should not be a factor in performance. The most important variable will be the fact that an indoor track is different from what all of these youngsters have been training on and what they are accustomed to. As always, part of the goal starting the season is to learn how to run indoors and how to deal with the limitations and specifics of being on a smaller oval.”
The Crossplex is a facility that opened in August 2011 and is being used by area schools and other groups. The facility features a 200-meter hydraulically banked track that has eight lanes, in addition to a four-lane warm-up track. With a $46 million reported price tag, the Crossplex also features an aquatic center and has seating for approximately 4,000 fans.
According to Norton, there are similarities between the Crossplex and Arkansas’ Randal Tyson Track. The Bulldogs will at least be visiting the Razorbacks’ home for the Razorback Invitational (Jan. 25-26), the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships (Feb. 22-24) and the NCAA Indoor Championships (March 8-9) this season.
“The Crossplex facility is a banked rubber surface similar to the track at Arkansas,” Norton explained. “For that reason, it's an added plus to have one more opportunity to become familiar with this type of track.
“It happens to be the absolute best indoor track facility in the ‘Deep South’ so it's always to our advantage to compete there. That's the good news. The bad news is that because indoor venues are so few in this part of the country, we will end up going against some fierce competition in our first meet.”
Norton said that Georgia and meet host Auburn will be joined by Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Central Florida, Miami, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Southern Mississippi, Texas Christian and South Carolina, among others.
In 2012, Georgia finished its indoor campaign with three SEC indoor champions in Colleen Felix (triple jump), Aaron Evans (800) and Torrin Lawrence (400), who have all completed their eligibility. The Bulldogs had 10 indoor First Team or Second Team All-Americans last season with sophomore Morgann Leleux (pole vault), sophomore Chris Foster (4x400 relay) and senior Saniel Atkinson (high jump) returning.
Leleux will be starting her second season on Saturday at the meet while Foster and Atkinson are expected to make their season debut at the Razorback Invitational next weekend.
Leleux was the top collegiate finisher at the Auburn Invitational in 2012 after clearing 13 feet, 7 ¼ inches. Atkinson was the runner-up in the high jump at last year’s Auburn Invitational after clearing 5-9.75. Evans also won the 800 (1:52.29) while Justin Welch finished first in the weight throw.
The Georgia men scored their highest point total in history (85.5) at last year’s SEC Indoor Championships to take third place while the Lady Bulldogs took fifth (52). Both squads finished in the top 30 nationally as the men tied for 23rd with nine points and the women shared 28th place with eight points at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Live results for the Auburn Invitational will be found at georgiadogs.com.