Sophomore Kisean Smith, shown above, and junior Charles Grethen are both expected to make their season debut in the 800m during the Vanderbilt Indoor Invitational.
Jan. 23, 2014
ATHENS, Ga. --- The Bulldogs track and field teams will be splitting up and heading in two separate directions as the second weekend of the indoor season begins on Friday.
Sixteen throwers, jumpers and multi-event athletes from the fifth-ranked Lady Bulldogs and 13th-ranked Georgia men traveled across the country on Thursday to Albuquerque, N.M., for the two-day Cherry & Silver Collegiate Invitational. New Mexico will also be hosting the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships on March 14-15.
Another 38 members of Georgia's teams will make two separate trips on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning to Nashville, Tenn., for the two-day Vanderbilt Indoor Invitational. The Commodores are hosting one of their first meets in their new indoor multi-purpose facility.
"We have a lot going on this weekend with three groups departing for two sites," said head coach Wayne Norton. "The Albuquerque group has the opportunity to gain some familiarity with the track as they compete at the NCAA venue and hopefully they will all qualify for the Championships and return in March. We have quite a few freshmen in that group but they must grow up fast and compete to win."
Prepping For The Postseason: Seniors Lucie Ondraschkova and Elizabeth Tepe, juniors Quintunya Chapman and Morgann Leleux and freshmen Asianna Covington, Tatiana Gusin, Leontia Kallenou, Georgia Stefanidi and Kendell Williams will represent the Lady Bulldogs in New Mexico with the first event arriving at 6 p.m. ET on Friday.
Senior Caleb Whitener, junior Nick Vena, sophomores Ashinia Miller, Maicel Uibo and Devon Williams and freshmen Alex Larsson and Alex Poursanidis are the Georgia men competing in Albuquerque. Saturday's events crank up at noon.
Thirty-one teams, including Arkansas and South Carolina, are signed up to compete at the Lobos' facility.
Bulldog throws coach Don Babbitt has seven throwers starting their season and is excited for his group to get a shot at competing where they will all hopefully end their season.
"Since the NCAA Championships will be held in New Mexico, I feel it is important that we get the feel of the facility, especially the ring (for throws)," said Babbitt. "This will allow us to know what to prepare for come Nationals. The travel is also lengthy and it is at a slight altitude as well so we will be curious to see how the athletes adjust their bodies to these potentially adverse factors. Adjustments will be made for future meets based on how we react."
Giving The Commodores Facility A Crack: On the women's side, seniors Leslie Boozer, Megan Malasarte and Bret McDaniel, juniors Greer Gafford, Carly Hamilton, Taylor Hollingsworth, Savannah Kirk and Torrenzia Lyles, sophomores Myasia Jacobs, Marrion Kalafut, Brooke Koblitz, Erika Ramsey and Chanice Porter and freshmen Rashan Brown, Jenn Cora, Rachael Doverspike, Holly Ebbets and Morgan Green, along with the men, will crank up their action at the Vanderbilt meet on Friday at 6 p.m.
For the men, seniors Caleb Ebbets and Johnathan Smith, juniors Luke Baker, Drew Branch, Charles Grethen, Brandon Lord and Charlie Sparks, sophomores Jamario Calhoun, Maurice Freeman, Brendan Hoban, Zack Sims, Kisean Smith and Wade Voyles, freshmen Henry Dwyer, Ayrian Evans, Reggie Glover, Morgan Malanoski, Brian Sullivan, Brandon Thompson and Derrick White are set to compete for Georgia. Events will begin again in Nashville at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.
Auburn, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State, UAB (women), Western Kentucky and the meet host Vanderbilt women are all inked in to compete.
"Our objectives in 2014 require that we take advantage of every opportunity and leave nothing undone," Norton explained. "In other words, if someone is going to be good later they need to demonstrate that by being good now. Vanderbilt appears to have one the best facilities in the eastern half of the United States to run fast times so we need to go up there and find out for ourselves."
Georgia men's sprints coach Jon Stuart said his crew is in the process of knocking "the rust off" and is now ready to improve their times on a track that should prove to be advantageous.
"Everyone had a chance to `knock the rust off' last week, so we are expecting the performances to steadily improve all the way up to the SEC Championships," Stuart said. "This meet is just another step in the process of getting better. We are excited to run on an oversized track (300 meters). This is an easier transition for our guys who have been running outdoor all year long then heading indoor to a smaller track."
Another Bulldog assistant, George Cleare, is looking forward for his student-athletes to try out Vanderbilt's facility and make the most of their trip since the postseason is only a month away.
"This weekend is more about executing the small things and building towards the SEC Championships and Nationals," said Cleare. "Momentum is very important and this is the time of the season that we can work on the technical aspect of each event. We can also go hard to get a better appraisal of overall fitness. Every meet we look to be faster, stronger and technically more efficient and with the new facility, I think the athletes are a bit more exited to compete at Vanderbilt."
The Georgia distance women set three school records during the 2013 indoor season and assistant coach Patrick Cunniff will be opening up some of this same elite crew in Nashville.
"The Vanderbilt Invitational is another important step forward for our distance/middle-distance crew," Cunniff said. "We move some of our NCAA level athletes into their true events for the first time with Carly running the mile and Megan, Charles and Kisean running the 800. And we will open up our top true distance men at various distances. I am excited to see what they can do after strong cross country seasons."
Rolling Early: Several Georgia team members have quickly earned one of the top spots on the national performance lists. Leontia Kallenou cleared the high jump bar at 6 feet, 2 inches at the Auburn Invitational to move to No. 2 on the national list, No. 3 in the school record books and earn SEC Freshman of the Week honors.
Morgan Leleux has the nation's third-best mark in the pole vault after clearing 13-11.25 to win the Auburn meet while Carly Hamilton is No. 7 on the 3000-meter run list after clocking a 9:21.88.
Full results and recaps from the Cherry & Silver Invitational and the Vanderbilt Invitational will be found at georgiadogs.com. Updates from the meets and throughout the season will be posted on Twitter at @UGA_XCTF.