Georgia's Torrin Lawrence Wins NCAA 400m Title



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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. --- Georgia sophomore Torrin Lawrence won the Bulldogs’ first NCAA indoor title on the track finishing first in the 400-meter dash during the final day of the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., on Saturday.

The Georgia men tied for 20th with 10 points while Florida (57) won the meet.  The Bulldogs scored the most points this season at an NCAA indoor meet since tallying 12 for an 18th-place in 2001.

The Lady Bulldogs scored four points and tied for 42nd place.  Oregon (61) ran away with the title on the women’s side as Tennessee (36) took second.  After failing to score in 2009 and 2008, the Georgia women have registered points at 10 of the last 13 NCAA Indoor Championships.

“What this finish for the men shows is that if you stay in the top portion of finishers at the SEC meet, you have the potential to make an impact at the national level,” said head coach Wayne Norton, whose men’s team was fifth at the SEC Championships.  “I thought this was a very respectable finish for a team that will be better outdoors and even better next year.”

Lawrence, who still has the world’s fastest time this year at 45.03, clocked the third-fastest time of his career (45.23) to capture the 400 crown.  After having the fastest time during prelims on Friday, Lawrence topped Alabama’s Kirani James (45.63) by four tenths of a second after also besting the Tide freshman for the Southeastern Conference title.  Lawrence’s time was the second-best finish in the history of the NCAA finals.

“Torrin not only won the national championship tonight, but he was also able to handle the pressure of being the best in his event all season long,” Norton said.  “Everybody in the stands was expecting him to win and I’m excited with his development and maturity over the past year.  The other Georgia coaches and I were talking with how we were pleased he kept the streak alive of the program winning at least one NCAA title every year for the last five years.”

The Georgia men had won only two NCAA indoor titles before Lawrence’s win and none since 2001 (1995, Hrvoje Verzi, triple jump; 2001, Andras Haklits, weight throw).  This marks the first NCAA indoor crown for either the men or the women since Patty Sylvester won the 2007 high jump championship.

This is Lawrence’s second All-America certificate after finishing seventh in the 200 at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships.  With Justin Gaymon earning an All-American certificate in the 400 during the 2008 and 2009 seasons, the Bulldogs have now had an indoor All-American in the event for three straight years.

The Bulldogs had a pair of competitors in the men’s weight throw.  Senior Branislav Danis, who exploded for a career-best effort at the Virginia Tech Final Qualifier to advance to nationals, opened with a throw of 66 feet, 3 ¾ inches and finished 13th.

Fellow senior John Freeman, who had Georgia’s longest mark for a majority of the season, finished with three fouls.  Freeman had a personal-best mark of 69-1.25 at the Final Qualifier, but also fouled out at the SEC Championships a week before his trip to Virginia Tech.

Junior Tommy Barrineau equaled a personal-best effort in the 60 hurdles before reaching a career-best height in the pole vault to take 13th in the heptathlon (5,525 points).  Barrineau was the seventh finisher in the 60 hurdles after registering an 8.45 for the third time during the 2010 season.

Barrineau then finished fourth in the pole vault with a career-best height of 16-4.75.  This ties the ninth-best mark on the Bulldog all-time top-10 list.  Oregon’s Ashton Eaton broke the American record to win the national title with 6,499 points.

Barrineau, who briefly held the nation’s lead in the heptathlon at the beginning of the 2010 season, was competing at his first national meet.  He broke his own school record in the heptathlon to win an SEC title in the event after scoring 5,700 points in Fayetteville on February 26-28.

As the only Lady Bulldog competing on Saturday, Kat Majester tied for 14th in the pole vault at her first NCAA Championships.  The UGA graduated student cleared 13-9.25 on her second attempt after a career-best performance at the SEC meet.

This ends a season of consistent improvements for the Alpharetta, Ga., native.  Majester opened her first season with the Lady Bulldogs by hitting an indoor personal-best height of 12-1.50 and had four more career-best efforts later in the season.  She locked down her spot at NCAAs by automatically qualifying with a mark of 13-11.25 at the Virginia Tech Final Qualifier.

Full results and a recap from the NCAA Championships are located at georgiadogs.com.

Georgia’s results at the NCAA Championships
Name Event/Place Mark
*Nikola Lomnicka Women’s Weight/5th 66 feet, 8 inches
John Freeman Men’s Weight/FOUL  
Branislav Danis Men’s Weight/14th 66-3.75
Tommy Barrineau Heptathlon/13th 5,525
*Torrin Lawrence Men’s 400m/1st 45.23
Kat Majester Women’s Pole Vault/T14th 13-9.25
*Kristie Krueger Women’s Mile/11th 4:46.26

* - All-American

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