Feb. 26, 2014
The Lady Bulldogs are seventh in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll. The Georgia men are holding down the No. 24 spot going into the postseason.
The Bulldogs begin the meet on Thursday with sophomore Maicel Uibo in the first of seven events of the men's heptathlon (60-meter dash) at 2 p.m. ET. Shortly afterwards, senior Lucie Ondraschkova, freshman Kendell Williams and junior Quintunya Chapman kick off the first of five events in the women's pentathlon at 2:30 p.m. with the 60 hurdles.
Uibo is ranked third nationally (second in the SEC) while Williams and Ondraschkova are the country's top-ranked and second-ranked pentathletes, respectively.
The open events of the SEC meet begin with the men's 60 hurdle prelims and weight throw and the women's pole vault all at 2 p.m. on Friday. The competition continues through Saturday evening.
The SEC Indoor Championships will air as part of a 90-minute show on ESPNU on Monday, March 10, beginning at 7:30 p.m. ESPN3 will stream the meet live during the following times: Friday, February 28 (2:55 p.m. - 7:35 p.m.) and Saturday, March 1 (1:50 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.). The broadcast talent includes Dwight Stones (play-by-play), Larry Rawson (analyst) and Lewis Johnson (sideline reporter).
Aggieathletics.com will also provide a stream of the meet from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday and 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday.
"We are expecting to have an outstanding group of athletes give their best efforts this week," said Bulldog assistant coach Jon Stuart, whose teams' next stop will be at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., on March 14-15. "Preparations have been good for the past two weeks, so we can foresee good performances in turn."
This season marked the end of "last chance" meets on the weekend between the conference meets and the NCAA Indoor Championships. The Bulldogs had routinely traveled to Ames, Iowa, Blacksburg, Va., and other locations over the years trying to reach a time or mark that would elevate them on the national performance lists. Many times Georgia picked up another one or two NCAA competitors thanks to these final opportunities.
"The SEC Championships will also double as our 'last chance' meet to qualify for NCAAs, which intensifies the importance," Stuart said.
Arkansas, Florida and Texas A&M, respectively, currently hold the top three spots in the latest national poll on the men's side, along with five more SEC teams in the top 30. Florida, Texas A&M and Arkansas, in that order, stand second through fourth in the women's poll with two more league teams in the top 10 and five more in the top 30.
"The SEC indoor meet is one of the most intense and exciting meets in the world during the month of February," said Stuart. "With a combined eight teams ranked in the top 10 for both men and women, you get a great preview of the NCAA Championships."
One 2013 SEC individual champion returns to defend her title at the 2014 meet. Sophomore Chanice Porter captured the long jump championship last year and is ranked second nationally going into this weekend.
Garrett Scantling (heptathlon) is redshirting the indoor season after winning the multis last year and Hilenn James (shot put) is expected to return to competition during the outdoor campaign after winning the Lady Bulldogs their first title in the event indoors since 1999.
As a team, the Georgia men were fourth at the 2013 SEC Indoor Championships with 56 points. The Lady Bulldogs scored 52.5 points and were fifth at the league's last indoor meet. Six scorers from last year's SEC meet return for the Bulldog men, including a trio of second-place finishers in Charles Grethen (800), Caleb Whitener (shot put) and Uibo (heptathlon).
The Georgia women return seven individual scorers from last year. Ondraschkova was the 2013 runner-up in the pentathlon while also scoring a point with an eighth-place finish in the triple jump to highlight the Lady Bulldogs' performance.
In 2006, the Georgia women swept the SEC indoor and outdoor meets to claim UGA's only conference indoor team championship.
Traditionally, the SEC Championships brings together many of the nation and world's top track and field athletes, and 2014 promises to be no different.
"It gets very intense, so we try to focus on executing in each event and simply focus on what's happening in our lane only," explained Stuart.
Results and recaps from the SEC Indoor Championships will be found at georgiadogs.com. News and updates from Georgia track and field teams are located on Twitter at @UGA_XCTF.