Georgia Track & Field Concludes Action At Auburn Invitational
Jan. 21, 2012
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. --- The Bulldogs picked up another pair of wins to highlight the second day of the Auburn Invitational at the Birmingham Crossplex on Saturday.
In addition, freshman Tynia Gaither moved into the school's all-time top-10 list in the 200-meter dash during her first collegiate meet as two Bulldog pole vaulters cleared the ninth-best heights in school history.
"We had some pretty good things happen and enjoyed competing in this facility for the first time," said Georgia head coach Wayne Norton. "I said something similar to this last week, but this meet gave us a lot of marks to kind of get in the game, and now we have to build on up from that starting point."
Senior Aaron Evans kicked off his 2012 campaign by winning the 800 after topping 24 other competitors. Evans registered a time of 1:52.29 as his junior teammate Daniel Grass finished fifth with his best Georgia time of 1:53.44.
"Both of our 800 guys ran well and it was nice to see Aaron back on the track and running," Norton said.
The reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, Morgann Leleux, was the top collegiate finisher in the pole vault and second overall behind former Lady Bulldog Kat Majester. Leleux went over the bar at 13 feet, 7 ¼ inches on her second attempt while Majester cleared the same height on her first try.
On the men's side, sophomore Caleb Ebbets and freshman Cameron Meyer tied for seventh place after reaching career-best heights of 16-6.75. This puts the duo into the No. 9 spot in the Bulldog record books.
"Morgann wasn't very happy but she is showing her consistency and that she is better than most collegiate vaulters she going against," said Norton. "Her performance teamed with the two personal bests for the men, and with the fact that a couple other people in this crew haven't come on yet makes me think this group will start really clicking and be a force for our team."
On the track, Gaither moved into the No. 6 spot in the school record books in the 200 during her first action as a Lady Bulldog. Gaither was second in her heat and ninth overall after making her lap in 24.15.
The Kissimmee, Fla., native also had the fastest 60 time in two seasons for the Lady Bulldogs despite slipping at the start line. Gaither was 14th in the prelims with a time of 7.57, which is just a hundredth of a second from being included in Georgia's all-time top-10 list.
"This was (Gaither's) first meet and if you take into account that she is a freshman and all the other factors of getting used to this level meet, I think it's encouraging and something we can build on," said Norton.
Junior Saniel Atkinson started her season by taking second place in the high jump. Atkinson cleared 5-9.75 on her first try after finishing with a season-opening mark of 5-7 in 2011. Atkinson finished fourth at last year's SEC Indoor Championships and was a Second Team All-American.
Her senior teammate Carin Walker tied for eighth after reaching a height of 5-7.75 on Saturday.
"This was a pretty good opener for Saniel and it makes me think she will be right where she needs to be later in the year," Norton said.
In the triple jump, Atkinson finished fourth after opening with a mark of 40-1.50. This is more than a foot longer than her opening effort in 2011.
Senior Torrin Lawrence, who was named the SEC Men's Runner of the Week after his season-opening performance at the Kentucky Invitational , sped to a second-place finish during his season debut in the 400. Lawrence clocked a 47.53 while freshman Drew Branch broke 49 seconds for 10th (48.96).
Lawrence returned to the track with freshman Chris Foster, senior Phillip Adams and freshman Drew Branch in the 4x400 relay and earned runner-up honors. The Bulldogs recorded a time of 3:11.99 to win the second heat and finish just behind Mississippi State (3:11.81) overall.
Opening nearly five feet farther than her first performance as a freshman in 2011, Hilenn James finished third in the shot put after hitting a mark of 50-3.50. James worked up to her top throw on her fifth attempt despite having four fouls in her series.
Senior heptathlete Cory Holman, who cleared seven feet in the high jump last weekend, finished fourth in the 60 hurdle finals with a time of 8.05.
Georgia returns to action next weekend at the Mark Colligan Memorial in Lincoln, Neb. Other UGA team members will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., for the Razorback Invitational.
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