Georgia Track & Field Opens Outdoor Season At Home
March 14, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. --- After a banner indoor campaign, Georgia's track and field teams open up their outdoor season in Athens with the Georgia Relays on Friday and Saturday.
The men's hammer throw starts the meet at noon on Friday at the Spec Towns Track. The first event on the track is the women's Gainey Special, which is a 100-meter-100-200-400 relay, at 4:40 p.m.
On Saturday, the women's steeplechase kicks off at 11 a.m. while the women's javelin is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. The meet has free admission.
Individuals competitors from Georgia Tech, Augusta State, Shorter, Brenau, Kennesaw State, Western Carolina, Georgia State, Jacksonville, Chattahoochee Tech, Florida A&M, among others, will be joining the Bulldogs at this weekend's meet.
"This meet will be the start of a whole new season in which we will slowly make progress towards getting better each week so that we can accomplish the things we are capable of as a program," said Georgia head coach Wayne Norton. "We are in no hurry to get there because we know it will take about six weeks to start to resemble the team we will be."
This meet will be the first of seven regular outdoor season weekends. Georgia will also host the annual Spec Towns National Team Invitational/Bulldog Decathlon and Heptathlon on April 11-13. The Southeastern Conference Championships will be in Columbia, Mo., for the first time on May 9-12 while the NCAA Championships are set for June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore.
Georgia is coming off of one of the most successful indoor seasons in history. The Lady Bulldogs finished 10th at the NCAA Indoor Championships after scoring 22 points. This marked their best finish since they team tallied 28 points for a fourth-place finish in 2007.
The Georgia men tied for 18th at the 2013 indoor nationals thanks to 11 points from their heptathletes. UGA last finished 18th in 2001 as the Bulldogs scored 12 points that year. The teams' combined finish was the second best in school history, trailing only the 1995 season when the men were sixth and the women were seventh.
"This first meet will not have any carryover from indoor season because many of the athletes who competed indoors will not be competing outdoors," Norton explained. "The first outdoor meet is more of an opportunity for those who did not compete indoors. But by hopefully duplicating the indoor success this spring, we will be able to look back on a great season."
Last Time At The Georgia Relays: The Bulldogs piled up 18 outright wins at the 2012 Georgia Relays, which also opened last year's season. Freshman Morgann Leleux highlighted the meet by tying the school record in the women's pole vault with a mark of 14 feet, 3 ½ inches. Leleux went on to set a new No. 1 mark after reaching 14-6.75 at the SEC Championships.
The longest women's long and triple jumps and the longest men's triple jump of the year all came at last year's meet. The Lady Bulldogs also clocked their best time of the season in the 4x100 relay.
Outdoor vs. Indoor: The method for qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Championships differs from the way student-athletes punch their tickets to the NCAA indoor meet.
Indoors, competitors work all season to try and be ranked in the top 16 nationally in their respective event and those top 16 are selected for nationals. Outdoors, the top 48 competitors from the East Region and the top 48 competitors from the West Region advance to either the NCAA East Prelims or NCAA West Prelims. From there, the top 12 from both the East and West Prelims advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships to make up the 24-person field in each event.
This year's NCAA East Prelims, which is where the Bulldogs compete, is in Greensboro, N.C., on May 23-25. The NCAA Outdoor Championships will be hosted by Oregon in Eugene, Ore., on June 5-8.
Returning Champions: A pair of women who captured 2012 SEC titles -Morgann Leleux (pole vault) and Kristie Krueger (10,000) - return in 2013. Caleb Whitener (shot put), Saniel Atkinson-Grier (high jump), Brandon Lord (5000) and Hilenn James (discus and shot put) are also in Georgia's lineup this season after earning runner-up finishes last outdoor season.
Megan Malasarte (800), Atkinson-Grier and Leleux earned First Team All-America certificates at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships. In fact, Leleux was the second-place finisher at both the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets last year.
Live results and recaps from the Georgia Relays will be found at georgiadogs.com.