Feb. 10, 2011
ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia’s track and field teams will split up and go three different directions over the weekend as they continue preparations for the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships on Feb. 25-27.
The largest contingency of Bulldogs will make the shortest journey to Clemson, S.C., for the Tiger Paw Invitational. A mixture of 28 throwers, jumpers, pole vaulters, sprinters and distance runners are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET on Friday and will then resume action on Saturday at 9 a.m.
Twenty-one other Georgia team members are scheduled to depart on Thursday evening for the Tyson Invitational. A crew of sprinters, jumpers, pole vaulters and multi-event athletes will be competing versus a talented field in Fayetteville, Ark.
Action is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Friday before cranking up again at the same time on Saturday. Arkansas’ Randal Tyson Track Center will also be the site of the SEC Championships in two weeks.
Distance coach Jeff Pigg will make the longest trip with 10 Georgia representatives to the Husky Classic. Brett Richardson, Brandon Lord, Danny Neff, Bill Matthews and Aaron Evans will join Nicole DiMercurio, Savannah Kirk, Megan Malasarte, Stella Christoforou and Ashley Shiver from the women’s team in Seattle, Wash., on the University of Washington’s campus.
The first event for UGA in Seattle will be at 9:30 p.m. on Friday night before starting again at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Sixteen of the top-25 men's teams and 12 of the top-25 women's teams will be competing at the meet.
“I am not in favor of splitting the teams because we try to promote unity and this is actually the first time we have ever split the team to attend more than two meets,” said head coach Wayne Norton. “The reason is simply that certain facilities are more conducive to quality results in some events than other facilities. So we split up to give the athletes the best chance to develop.”
Georgia has had three weekends of meets so far during the indoor season. The Bulldog men are ranked 21st in the latest USTFCCCA poll while the Lady Bulldogs have several individual competitors holding down top-five spots in the conference standings and top-20 spots in the national rankings.
Norton is hoping his teams use this final weekend of regular season competition to sharpen up their skills for the coming conference championships.
“The goal, expectation and need for the teams this weekend are all the same; they are to get better and be better prepared for the SEC meet in two weeks,” Norton said. “This has been the most challenging indoor season we have had at the University of Georgia in my 21 seasons here. One challenge has been that we have continued to work on improving in spite of the worst winter during that time. But that is just typical for the Georgia track programs - they succeed in the face of great hardships and disadvantages.”
Thus far during the indoor season, junior Colleen Felix has a commanding lead in the national rankings in the women’s triple jump after soaring an NCAA automatic qualifying mark of 44 feet, 1 ½ inches at the Virginia Tech Elite meet. This personal-best mark is No. 2 on UGA’s all-time top-10 list and is the only automatic qualifying effort in the country this year.
Fellow junior Latroya Darrell is holding down the ninth spot in the triple jump’s national rankings (third in the SEC) after traveling 42-6 in Blacksburg, Va. On the men’s triple jump list, senior Aaron LaGarde is 20th in the nation with a season-best mark of 51-1.75.
Sitting out the 2010 season after transferring from Tennessee, All-American and SEC champion Michael Ayers made his Bulldog debut in the heptathlon and stands at the No. 11 spot (second in the SEC) with the second-highest point total in school history (5,553).
Sophomore Lucie Ondraschkova scored the third-most points in school history (3,947) in the pentathlon during the Big 12 vs. SEC Challenge and is currently ranked 11th on the national list.
Live results will be available for both the Tyson Invitational and the Husky Classic and recaps from all of the weekend’s action will be located at georgiadogs.com.