Bulldog Track & Field Travel To Birmingham For Auburn Invitational
Junior jumper Saniel Atkinson was the runner-up in the high jump at the 2011 SEC Outdoor Championships.


Junior jumper Saniel Atkinson was the runner-up in the high jump at the 2011 SEC Outdoor Championships.
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Jan. 19, 2012

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ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia's track and field teams will compete in their second indoor meet of the season at the Auburn Invitational in Birmingham, Ala., on Friday and Saturday.

The Bulldogs will join 11 other schools at the Birmingham Crossplex, a facility that opened in August 2011 and is being used by area schools and other groups.

After a portion of Georgia's team members opened their 2012 campaigns at the Kentucky Invitational in Lexington, Ky., last weekend, head coach Wayne Norton is looking forward to more Bulldogs getting their first action this weekend.

"This week we will have a few more athletes making season debuts which will helps us retain a sense of anticipation that you normally have only in the first meet," said Norton.  "The most important factor in going to the Crossplex facility is we get a chance to critique the track.  It is the nearest banked track to Athens."

Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Tennessee will be joining Georgia and Auburn at the meet from the Southeastern Conference.  In addition, the UCF women, Clemson, Florida State, Samford and the Texas women will also be competing.

Twenty men are scheduled to travel for Georgia while 18 women will be competing in the Lady Bulldogs' second meet of the season.  Five true freshmen will be debuting for the Georgia women and redshirt freshman thrower Burke McCarty will be battling in his first collegiate indoor meet with the Bulldogs.

The Crossplex 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.

Norton is eager for his teams to test out the facility and is hoping they have success during this first test-run.

"If the track is to our liking, it will be the most ideal place for us to schedule meets next year and in the future," Norton said.  "Even though this will be a reconnaissance mission, we are also going with a mind to compete and qualify for the NCAA Championships."

The Lady Bulldogs opened the season ranked 14th in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) preseason poll while the Bulldog men were 21st

At the Kentucky meet, several of Georgia's team members surged forward in the national individual rankings.  Senior Torrin Lawrence, who was named the SEC Men's Runner of the Week, won the 200-meter dash with the fourth-fastest time in the nation (21.18).  Lawrence also claimed victories in the 60 (6.76) and in the 4x400 relay. 

Sophomore Megan Malasarte also flew to a personal-best time of 2:09.09 to win the 800 with the nation's third-fastest time this year.  Also, Morgann Leleux, who was voted the SEC Female Freshman of the Week, matched her career-best mark in the pole vault (13 feet, 8 ¼ inches) to have the top effort by any freshman in the nation this year (sixth overall).

Other Bulldogs will be competing for the first time this season.  Senior 800 runner Aaron Evans, who was second at the 2011 SEC Indoor Championships and a Second Team All-American in the event, will be starting his final year in Birmingham.  Junior high jumper Saniel Atkinson, who was second at the last season's SEC outdoor meet and a Second Team All-American indoors, also starts her season this weekend.

Live results for the Auburn Invitational and recaps from both days of action will be located at georgiadogs.com.

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