Georgia Track & Field Sends Five For Final Shot At NCAAs
Feb. 28, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia's track and field teams traveled five team members to Indiana on Thursday for Notre Dame's Alex Wilson Invitational.
The meet is a "last chance" opportunity to advance to the NCAA Indoor Championship. The Alex Wilson meet starts on Friday evening and runs until Saturday afternoon.
The NCAA Championships are in Fayetteville, Ark., on March 8-9. Qualification lists for the national meet are scheduled to be released on Sunday.
Junior Stella Christoforou, sophomore Tynia Gaither, junior Megan Malasarte and sophomore Carly Hamilton will represent the Lady Bulldogs in the distance medley relay at 7:45 p.m. Friday. Christoforou, Gaither and Malasarte, along with sophomore Charles Grethen, will also all be competing in open events on Saturday in an attempt to lower their times.
"Our philosophy is that we want to be very selective in sending our athletes to a competition that comes the week between (Southeastern Conference) and NCAA," explained Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton. "For certain people in certain circumstances, having one final opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Championships can be just what they need because they are making progressive steps towards getting better. If they had an abbreviated season or are starting to get their fitness back, they can often do well in this type of competition.
"Gaither, Grethen and Malasarte have continued to improve throughout the indoor season and have a good chance to keep up that upward trend. And if they do, they could move into the top 15 in their respective events. The relay team has never had an opportunity to run together and to run when they are rested. So they should run about 25 seconds faster than the time we previously posted. I am expecting a superb weekend with an eye towards the championships next week."
Georgia's DMR team set a school record with a time of 11:25.25 to take fifth at the SEC Championships last weekend. Gaither will be running the leg that freshman Shaunae Miller ran at SECs, which were also in Fayetteville. The foursome will be looking to trim off at least 10-15 seconds to earn a spot in the 16-team field for NCAAs.
Malasarte and Christoforou are scheduled to return to the track in the 800 on Saturday at 12:55 p.m. Malasarte was fourth at the SEC meet after clocking a personal-best time of 2:06.39 and currently sits 18th on the NCAA list. The Fayetteville, Ga., native finished seventh at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships and brought home an All-America certificate.
Christoforou took seventh in the mile at the league championship with the fastest time of her career (4:44.46). The last time she ran the 800, she posted a personal-best time of 2:10.30 earlier in the season at the Akron Invitational.
Grethen will take the track in the men's 800 at 1:25 p.m. Saturday. After coming into the SEC meet with the 10th-best time, Grethen shot to a second-place finish with a career best 1:49.13. He is currently tied for 21st in the nation as the No. 16 competitor on the NCAA list has a top time of 1:48.65.
Gaither will try her luck in the 200 at 2:10 p.m. on Saturday. The Kissimmee, Fla., native collected her fastest career finish in the SEC prelims of 23.66 before taking seventh in the finals. Currently, Gaither is 32nd on the NCAA list with the 16th entry having a time of 23.43. She ran a 23.17 outdoors during her high school years.
Georgia has had several "last chance" performances since 2010 that have propelled individuals into the NCAA Championships. Last indoor season, Colleen Felix traveled 42 feet, 8 ¾ inches at the Virginia Tech Final Qualifier to lock her spot down at the national meet.
In 2010, Kat Majester earned an invitation to NCAAs with a personal-best clearance in the pole vault as both Branislav Danis and John Freeman posted the longest throws of the season in the weight to advance to the national meet.
Results and a recap from the Alex Wilson Invitational will be found at georgiadogs.com.
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