Sophomore Morgann Leleux will return to action at the NCAA Championships after suffering an eye injury in late January.
March 6, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. --- Fifteen members of Georgia's track and field teams travel this week to Fayetteville, Ark., for the third time this season as the NCAA Indoor Championships arrive on Friday and Saturday.
Seniors Lucie Ondraschkova (pentathlon) and Saniel Atkinson-Grier (high jump), juniors Stella Christoforou (DRM), Megan Malasarte (DMR), Nicole DiMercurio (DMR) and Hilenn James (shot put), sophomores Carly Hamilton (mile, DMR), Morgann Leleux (pole vault) and Tynia Gaither (DMR) and freshmen Shaunae Miller (400-meter dash, DMR) and Chanice Porter (long jump) will be representing the Lady Bulldogs.
The Bulldog men have a pair of competitors in both the shot put and the heptathlon. Sophomore Nick Vena and junior Caleb Whitener (shot put) will join sophomore Garrett Scantling and freshman Maicel Uibo (heptathlon) in the Razorbacks' Randal Tyson Indoor Track Center.
Atkinson-Grier opens the meet for Georgia in the high jump. The 2012 outdoor First Team All-American jumps at 4:15 p.m. ET on Friday. Hamilton starts the action on the track for UGA in the mile semifinal at 6:30 p.m. that evening.
This will mark Georgia's third time competing in Arkansas this season. UGA made the trip for the Razorback Invitational in late January before returning for the Southeastern Conference Championships two weeks ago.
The Bulldogs have had substantial success inside Arkansas' facility. During the SEC Championships, James and Porter captured conference crowns as Ondraschkova posted four personal-best efforts in the pentathlon to take second with the country's No. 2 score (4,208) this year. Miller also finished third in the 400 after topping her own school record with a 52.21.
Hamilton also set a school record in the 3000 (9:20.89) and James moved to the top of the UGA all-time top-10 list in the shot put (55 feet, 1 ½ inches) in the facility at the Razorback meet. In addition, Leleux soared over the pole vault bar at a career-high height of 14-9, which remains the nation's top mark, at the same meet.
On the men's side, Scantling set a school record with 5,889 points to win the SEC heptathlon title in Arkansas while Uibo scored 5,755 points during the Razorback meet to clinch his first trip to nationals.
Leleux comes into the meet as not only Georgia's sole national leader, but also one of the more intriguing storylines of the meet. The week after becoming only the seventh collegian in history to reach 14-9 indoors, Leleux was diagnosed with a detached retina and had a procedure on January 30 to repair the damage. She has been recovering over the last six weeks.
The only other competitor in the nation to score more pentathlon points than Ondraschkova this season has been Arkansas' Makeba Alcide. Alcide topped the NCAA record with 4,569 to win the league championship. This will be Ondraschkova's fifth trip to nationals.
Scantling is third on the NCAA performance list in the heptathlon. He got a boost in the standings when Washington's Jeremy Taiwo, who was the national leader, suffered an injury in preparation for nationals and withdrew.
Uibo, Georgia's second heptathlete headed to NCAAs, is No. 7 on the national list after only completing two full heptathlons in his young collegiate career.
Miller, who is scheduled to run in the 400 and complete a leg of the DMR, comes into her first NCAA Championships with the fifth-fastest time in the meet. She has set the school record in the 400 three times this season and finished her first year No. 2 on the school's all-time 200 list.
Miller's roommate, Chanice Porter, has hit the 21-0.50 mark twice this season and is No. 6 on the national performance list. The Pratville, Jamaica, native is 5-0 in long jump competitions this year.
Christoforou, Malasarte and Hamilton will join Miller in the DMR as Georgia is currently No. 10 on the national performance list. The first three runners teamed up with Gaither at the Alex Wilson Invitational last weekend in their final chance to earn a trip to nationals. The foursome improved the previous school record set at the SEC meet by 22 seconds and moved into the top 16. Gaither and DiMercurio will serve as the alternates on the relay.
Hamilton comes into the meet with the 11th-best time in the mile (4:36.06). She set this school record mark at the Husky Classic in Seattle, Wash., earlier this season. Hamilton was disqualified in the mile prelims at the SEC Championships despite having the fastest time in the qualifying round after cutting over too early.
The two Bulldog shot putters, Nick Vena and Caleb Whitener, are No. 13 and No. 14, respectively, on the NCAA list. Vena launched his top mark of 62-10 at the VT Elite Meet during the regular season while Whitener, who has had personal-best marks at four different meets this season, reached his career long of 62-9.25 to take second at SECs.
In the women's shot, James unleashed the second-longest effort of her career on her sixth and final attempt to capture her first SEC title two weeks ago. She is 15th on the current NCAA list after taking 12th at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The Lady Bulldogs' final qualifier is Atkinson-Grier, who is also no stranger to NCAA competition. She has high jumped at three NCAA Championships and has All-America certificates from all of them. Atkinson-Grier was one of 17 jumpers to reach at least six feet this season as she slipped into nationals at No. 15 on the list.
Both Georgia teams finished in the top 30 at last year's NCAA indoor meet. The Bulldog men tied for 23rd with nine points thanks to a trio of senior scorers. Aaron Evans took fourth in the 800 (1:48.95) as Cory Holman finished sixth in the heptathlon (a school record 5,873 points). Torrin Lawrence also managed an eighth-place finish in the 400 (47.42).
The Lady Bulldogs tied for 28th with eight points because of Leleux's performance in the pole vault. The true freshman cleared a personal-best height of 14-5.25 to earn runner-up honors behind Arkansas senior and the collegiate record holder Tina Sutej. Leleux returned during the outdoor season to top Sutej for last year's SEC outdoor title.
Live results and a recap after each day's action will be found at georgiadogs.com.