Bulldog Track & Field Inks Eight As Signing Period Begins
Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton had a fourth-ranked recruiting class last year and is aiming for another top-10 class this year.

Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton had a fourth-ranked recruiting class last year and is aiming for another top-10 class this year.
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Feb. 8, 2013

ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia's track and field teams have received National Letters of Intent from eight student-athletes after the official signing period began on Wednesday.

The Bulldogs, along with all of the other teams across the nation in their division, have until August to complete their 2013 signing class. 

The class was highlighted with a pair of signees from Greece.  Georgia Stefanidi (Pallini/Athens, Greece) has cleared 13 feet, 11 ¼ inches in the pole vault, which would rank fourth in both Georgia's indoor and outdoor record books.  Stefanidi's sister, Katerina, edged Lady Bulldog Morgann Leleux for the 2012 NCAA outdoor pole vault title and has been third or better at the last four national meets.

Alexander Poursanidis (Paphos/Cyprus, Greece) is the Cyprus record holder in the hammer after lifting the implement 253-9.  Poursanidis was fourth at the 2012 IAAF World Championships.

 

Here is a breakdown of Georgia's eight signees so far:

Morgan Ainslie

Lassiter HS; Marietta, Ga.

High School: Finished sixth at the 2012 GHSA AAAAAA Cross Country State Championships after taking fourth at the 2011 state meet...Took fourth at the 2012 Georgia Cross Country Invitational hosted by UGA in Bishop...Personal-best times of 5:09.43 (1600-meter run), 18:17.73 (three-mile run), 18:38.57 (5000) and 11:28.69 (3200)...A Team Georgia Foot Locker South selection.

Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton's comment on Ainslie: "Coach (Patrick) Cunniff and I have hopes that Morgan will be able to come in and give us some immediate depth in cross country and then develop into a solid distance runner in indoor and outdoor track."

 

Megan Charbeneau

Lowndes HS; Valdosta, Ga.

High School: Finished 10th at the 2012 GHSA AAAAAA Cross Country State Championships...Personal-best times of 5:20.83 (1600); 11:22.63 (3200), 18:11.93 (three-mile run) and 18:12.10 (5000)...A Team Georgia Foot Locker South selection...Took third at the 2012 Georgia Cross Country Invitational hosted by UGA in Bishop.

Norton's comments on Charbeneau: "We are hopeful that Megan can provide some help to our cross country team in the next couple of years as she develops and adjusts to the increased mileage of Coach Cunniff's running plan.  If that happens, she would be a potential SEC scorer in the 5000- and 10,000-meter races in outdoor track."

 

Asianna Covington

Little Flower Academy; Surrey, British Columbia/Canada

High School: Set Canadian high school record in the discus at 160 feet, 8 inches at the Fraser Valley Invitational...Held No. 2 ranking in World Youth Rankings...Competed at the 2012 World Junior Championships...Captured gold medals in all three of her throwing events (hammer throw, discus and shot put) at the British Columbia High School Championships over the course of her career...Personal-best marks of 181-1 in the hammer, 59-7 in the weight and 40-2.75 in the shot put...Chosen to be Canada's flag bearer at the IV Commonwealth Youth Games...Father, Grover, is a CFL Hall of Fame defensive end while brother, Christian, led Conference USA in sacks by a rookie in 2012 with five as a defensive tackle at Rice University.

Norton's comments on Covington: "Coach (Don) Babbitt, who has coached hammer throwers to multiple SEC championships, is convinced that Asianna will be one of the best hammers we have had at UGA.  I think she will fit right in with the throwing group that Coach Babbitt has.  The hammer is her best event but she should help us in the discus as well as she matures.  She is a very young high school senior who will still be 17-years-old when classes start here in the fall."

 

Brad Hort

McIntosh HS; Peachtree City, Ga.

High School: Finished 35th at 2012 Foot Locker Nationals after clocking a 16:09.00...Registered a personal-best 5000-meter run time of 14:59.00 to take sixth at the 2012 Foot Locker South Regionals...Other personal-best times of 4:20.16 (1600) and 9:24.60 (3200)...Won the 2012 GHSA AAAAA Cross Country State Championships after finishing his 5000 in 16:22.64 and helped also lead his team to a first-place finish...Also captured the 2011 state title with a time of 16:05.66.

Norton's comments on Hort: "We are looking forward to see what Brad will do over the next year or so because he is runner who has improved a great deal as a senior cross country runner.  That is an indication that he may not be close to as good as he will be.  Coach Cunniff and I are expecting his 1600-meter time to drop a lot in the spring.  And of course, we will be looking for his cross country ability to provide immediate help in our plans to continue competing at the NCAA Cross Country Championships as we have the last two years."

 

Alex Larsson

Celsius Gymnasium; Stockholm, Sweden

High School: Competed at Swedish Junior Championships...Personal-best marks of 226 feet, 5 inches in the 6kg hammer and 192-4 in the 7.26kg hammer...Son of two-time Swedish Olympic shot putter Kent Larsson, who competed at the 1992 and 1996 Games and was sixth at the 1991 IAAF World Championships in Tokyo.

Norton's comments on Larsson: "Alex is an interesting story in that his parents were athletes on the team when I was an assistant coach at Northern Arizona University back in the glorious 1980s.  His father is Swedish and his mother is from the United States.  The family wanted Alex to come to UGA mainly because of Coach Babbitt's reputation and somewhat because of previous relationship.  From what we have learned about Alex, he is a hard-working, highly motivated student-athlete.  He is one we expect not only to be a major contributor but one who should improve every year." 

 

Kate Northrop

Marist School; Atlanta, Ga.

High School: Took fifth in the 5000-meter run at the 2012 GHSA Cross Country State Championships after taking 11th in 2011, 10th in 2010 and ninth in 2009...Personal-best times of 2:22.19 (800), 5:15.39 (1600), 18:47.30 (5000) and 19:07.64 (three-mile run)...Finished in the top 100 at the Nike Cross Country Nationals - Southeast Regional...Named a Ga.MileSplit.com Runner of the Week.

Norton's comments on Northrop: "Kate will be one of those developmental runners similar to those who have been successful at Georgia over the years.  Each subsequent year should be better than the previous.  We have had some of these in-state runners develop into SEC champions."

 

Alex Poursanidis

1st Lyceum of Ethnarch Makarios; Paphos, Cyprus/Greece

High School: Cyprus record holder in the 6 kg (13.2 lbs.) hammer at 253 feet, 9 inches...Finished fourth at the 2012 World Championships...Silver medalist at 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

Norton's comments on Poursanidis: "Alex is a guy who expressed that he really wants to be at the University of Georgia.  He was passionately recruited by a lot of schools so I feel fortunate that he ultimately felt that UGA would be the best place for him.  Coaches Babbitt and Kyprianou are in agreement that Alex has both the physical and psychological tools to be a 260-foot hammer thrower.   That is what we are looking for in time."

 

Georgia Stefanidi

1st Lyceum of Pallini; Pallini/Athens, Greece

High School: Greek National Junior champion in the pole vault...Personal-best mark of 13 feet, 11 ¼ inches...Finished fourth at the 2011 World Youth Championships in Lille, France...Younger sister of former Stanford All-American Katerina Stefanidi (finished third or better in the pole vault at the last four NCAA Championships competing for the Cardinal, including a national title at the 2012 NCAA outdoor meet; 2012 Olympian for Greece).

Norton's comments on Stefanidi: "A one-two punch is our expectation for having Miss Georgia join Morgann in the vault corps.   As a high school underclassman, her performances are slightly ahead of where Morgann and Stefanidi's older sister (Katerina) were at the same age.  The older Stefanidi, who went to Stanford University, is an NCAA champion and of course Morgann is a two-time NCAA runner-up.  Miss Georgia is coming in with great expectations from the coaches and from her.  Where else should Miss Georgia sign than with Team Georgia!"

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