Feb. 23, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia's track and field teams will join more of the world's top talent during the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships at the University of Kentucky's Nutter Field House starting Friday, February 24 through Sunday, February 26.
Both the pentathlon for the women and the heptathlon for the men begin on Friday. The pentathlon's 60-meter hurdles start the meet at 2:30 p.m. ET while the heptathlon's 60 is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. Seniors Cory Holman and Michael Ayers along with freshman Garrett Scantling will be gunning for an SEC multi-events victory for the Bulldog men.
Sophomores Justin Welch and Caleb Whitener will compete in the meet's first individual event (weight throw) at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The women's 60 hurdle prelims are the first individual track event scheduled and will begin at 2:10 p.m.
The SEC Championships will air as part of a 90-minute show on ESPNU on Sunday, March 11 from 5-6:30 p.m.
In addition, ESPN3.com will stream the meet live during the following times: Saturday, February 25 - 2:05-7:30 p.m.; Sunday, February 26 - 1:25-5:00 p.m.
"Our men's team is fairly healthy and has been consistent in performance," said head coach Wayne Norton. "We have a good chance to be in the top five. In the SEC, usually teams in the top five turn out to be pretty good at the end. For the women, this is one of our most challenging SEC meets in recent years because several injuries have dictated that we take it rather easy in training and competing. So there our some questions about our women about how we will be able to compete with our normal preparations."
With the Bulldog men holding down the No. 24 spot in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll, five more of the 10 SEC men's teams competing are also ranked among the nation's top-25. No. 1 Arkansas, No. 2 Florida, No. 4 LSU, No. 17 Auburn and No. 22 Ole Miss round out the teams on the men's side.
Five of the league's 12 SEC women's teams competing at the meet are also ranked in the top-25, including No. 2 LSU, No. 4 Arkansas, No. 6 Florida, No. 8 Tennessee and No. 22 South Carolina.
The Georgia men scored 55.3 points at the 2011 SEC Indoor Championships and finished fifth. The Bulldogs have a runner-up finish in their history (1982) and tied for fourth in 2004 to top their most recent success at the meet.
The Georgia women captured the 2006 team title before also winning the SEC Outdoor Championships that year and have three second-place finishes since 1980. In 2011, the Lady Bulldogs scored 54 points and ended up sixth.
Florida is the defending SEC Indoor Champion on the men's side and the Gators have won back-to-back NCAA Indoor Championships. LSU, which has won a league-leading 12 SEC Indoor Championships on the women's side, is the defending women's champion.
Lady Bulldog junior Colleen Felix is one of eight defending champions competing on the women's side and the only Georgia student-athlete to win an individual crown in 2011. Felix is scheduled to compete at 11 a.m. on Sunday. She is currently seventh in the SEC standings after reaching 41 feet, 3 ¼ inches in her only meet this year.
Felix's teammate, senior Latroya Darrell, has the fourth-longest triple jump in the SEC going into the meet. Darrell was fourth at last year's SEC Championships and was a Second-Team All-American in the event.
Eighteen individuals and the 4x400 relay team are ranked in the top eight spots in the conference on the men's side following regular season competition. For the women, freshman Morgann Leleux has the second-best pole vault mark (14-4.50) in the SEC to highlight eight Lady Bulldog individuals who are in position to score at the meet.
Nationally, Leleux, a New Iberia, La., native, shot to second in the nation and in the school record books with her career-best effort at the Virginia Tech Elite meet. Only Arkansas' Tina Sutej owns a better mark (14-7.25) than Leleux nationwide.
In other event dominated by the SEC, Holman has the country's fifth best score (an NCAA automatic qualifying 5,809, which set a school record) in the heptathlon, but is ranked fourth in the league. Michael Ayers won the 2009 SEC title in the event while at Tennessee before finishing third with the Bulldogs last season.
Senior Aaron Evans also has a national top-10 ranking (7th - 1:47.88, another school record and currently No. 2 in the SEC) and is in pursuit of his first conference crown. The Devonshire, Bermuda, native was second in the 800 finals at the 2011 SEC indoor meet after also earning runner-up honors at the 2010 SEC Outdoor Championships.
Another pair of Georgia competitors are also in the top 10 nationwide going into the SEC meet. Junior Saniel Atkinson-Grier matched her personal best in the high jump earlier this season at 5-11.50 and is only a half-inch from equaling the top mark in the league this season. She is also competing in the triple jump in Lexington.
No stranger to SEC dominance is senior sprinter Torrin Lawrence. Lawrence opened his career at the Nutter Field House in 2009 by breaking the school 200 record (20.77) and later won his first conference championship in the event later that year. He also claimed the 2010 NCAA indoor 400 title and was the runner-up in the 400 at the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships.
Lawrence is currently tied with sophomore teammate Waymon Storey in the conference's 200 rankings with a time of 21.12 and is fifth in the 400 after clocking a 46.53 at the Tyson Invitational.
Live results and a recap from each day's action at the SEC Championships will be located at georgiadogs.com.