Georgia Track & Field Hits 'Mid-Season' At Akron Invite
Feb. 1, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. --- With two meets done, Georgia's track and field teams start the "mid-season portion" of their indoor season at the Akron Invitational in Akron, Ohio, on Saturday.
The Bulldogs travel to Ohio on Friday to participate at the ninth-annual meet in the Stile Athletics Field House. Georgia will be traveling 36 student-athletes to make up part of the 730 competitors and 40 different schools that are expected to compete at the meet.
The Akron Invitational is scheduled to kick-off its collegiate events on Saturday morning at 9:30 am. This will mark the Bulldogs' third meet of the season as they have one more weekend of regular season meets left after Saturday before the Southeastern Conference Championships arrive in Fayetteville, Ark., on Feb. 22-24.
The Lady Bulldogs shot from 16th to 11th in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll.
"Our indoor season has three parts starting with the early season portion that includes the January meets, which happened to be only two meets this year," said Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton. "Our results in the early portion can sometimes be inconsistent from week to week because there are lots of variables involved. Two examples of the variables are newcomers in unfamiliar settings and the team coming off a long Christmas recess."
Similar to Georgia's first two meets this season, the Bulldogs have 10 true freshmen and a host of newcomers to collegiate indoor track set to battle this weekend.
"Because of the variables, we never know exactly what we're going to see early," said Norton. "When February rolls around, it is time to start getting better and becoming consistent. This mid-season portion is when we start to position ourselves to go into the indoor postseason, which is the last portion. During the mid-season we will start to get an idea of how good we can be. And of course the postseason is when the scores mean something."
Norton and his coaching staff decided to make this trip to an unfamiliar setting after checking out what indoor competition opportunities were available for this weekend.
"There was a change in one of the meets we attend every year, so we had to find a meet that we would be welcome to on this first weekend in February," explained Norton. "Collegiate indoor track scheduling is dependent on finding a meet that you can attend. Because there are not any indoor tracks in our immediate area, we need to travel to find a place to compete. The staff at Akron was gracious enough to allow us to come up and we're looking forward to it."
There are currently eight Georgia individuals and one relay team who are ranked in the top 20 nationally competing for UGA this weekend.
True freshman Chanice Porter has been named the SEC Women's Freshman Athlete of the Week for two consecutive weeks after her performances in the long jump. Last weekend at the Razorback Invitational, she traveled a nationally leading distance of 21 feet, ½ inches to take over the No. 4 spot in the school record books.
Senior Lucie Ondraschkova is gunning of her second trip to the NCAA Indoor Championships and fifth overall trip to a national meet in the multi-events. She was the runner-up to the national leader in the pentathlon at the Razorback meet after recording three personal-best efforts to score the third-most points in Lady Bulldog history (4,072). Ondraschkova is seventh on the national list.
Georgia's program has thrived in all of the multi-events during the 2013 campaign. True freshman Maicel Uibo had six personal bests during the heptathlon to tally second-most points (5,755) in Georgia history in Arkansas. The Polva, Estonia, native is currently second in the SEC and fourth nationally. He was named the SEC Men's Freshman Athlete of the Week after his showing last weekend.
Uibo's sophomore teammate Garrett Scantling is not far behind after piling up a career-best 5,619 points in the heptathlon. He is sixth nationally (third in the SEC) after moving to fourth on Georgia's all-time top-10 list.
A third Bulldog heptathlete, true freshman Devon Williams, is 13th on the national performance list after completing his seven events at the collegiate level for the first time. Highlighted by winning the 60-meter hurdles with the sixth-best time in school history (8.04), Williams was fourth at the Razorback meet after scoring 5,376 points to take over the No. 7 spot in the school record books.
Newcomer Nick Vena is leading the SEC and is eighth in the country after taking second in the shot put last weekend. Vena launched the fourth-longest throw in school history (62-6.75) as he attempts to add to his trophy collection after winning ACC outdoor crowns in the shot put and discus at Virginia last year.
A Second Team All-American outdoors in 2012, junior Caleb Whitener is giving the Bulldogs a 1-2 punch in the shot put this season. Whitener has posted two career-best efforts in a row and is 19th on the national list with the fourth-best throw in the league this season (59-11.25).
Senior Saniel Atkinson has only competed once for the Lady Bulldogs this season, but her clearance of 5-11.25 already puts her at No. 13 on the national list and sixth in the SEC. Atkinson, who reached 6-2.25 over the summer, is competing in an event that is unusually featuring 10 jumpers across the country who have already reached 6 feet this year.
The Georgia women also have the 17th-best distance medley relay time in the nation this season after clocking an 11:39.68. This finish gives the Lady Bulldog quartet the sixth-best time in school history. True freshman quarter miler Shaunae Miller was making her debut on the relay team during the first indoor action of her life.
Live results and a recap from the Akron Invitational will be available at georgiadogs.com.