April 17, 2014
ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia's track and field teams had the rare opportunity to compete at home last weekend. Now, it is time to return to the road for the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif., and the War Eagle Invitational in Auburn, Ala.
Eighteen throwers and distance runners made the trip to the Mt. SAC Relays, which run from Thursday night to Saturday afternoon. Senior Nicole DiMercurio is scheduled to run in the women's 10,000-meter Olympic Development Elite race at 12:04 a.m. ET Friday morning while senior Charlie Sparks is slated to compete in the men's 10,000 Olympic Development race at 1:16 a.m. on Friday to start the action.
Thirty-three other Bulldogs have been signed up to compete in the two-day War Eagle Invitational. Sophomore Jamario Calhoun, who hit the 50-foot mark for the first time in his career last week, opens the meet in the men's triple jump at 5 p.m. on Friday.
Georgia hosted a group of teams on April 10-12 for the Bulldog Decathlon/Heptathlon and the annual Spec Towns National Team Invitational at the Spec Towns Track in Athens. The Bulldog men and women combined for 17 top collegiate finishes, three national-leading marks and an American Junior record in the heptathlon. The strong finishes shot the Lady Bulldogs to fifth in the national rankings while the Georgia men are ninth.
"April has been very good to us with lots of personal bests and nationally-ranked performances," said head coach Wayne Norton. "With more of the month remaining, we actually can get better in a lot of areas. There is time and definitely room for improvement. We should not have any problems in getting motivated for the meets this weekend or over the next three weeks because we have not reached our potential or even pushed ourselves too hard. We have been making the necessary, expected, prescribed progressions."
Georgia travels to the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, on April 24-26 before hosting the Georgia Invitational on May 10, which is the weekend before the Southeastern Conference Championships in Lexington, Ky.
But Norton believes there is much improvement to be made before the postseason arrives.
"The Mt. SAC group has the same mission as the Auburn group: establish themselves as likely SEC and NCAA scorers," Norton explained. "We do that by producing ranked marks and gaining confidence by competing with an expectation for success. I expect everyone making a trip this week to compete well enough to position themselves on the travel roster for the Championships. For some, that will be the SEC and NCAA Championships and for others, it will be for only the SEC. But everyone should be striving."
Last year at the Mt. SAC meet, junior Charles Grethen ran a season-best time of 1:47.56 to take fifth in the 800 before advancing to the NCAA semifinals in the event. Zack Sims also finished with a team-best time of 14:28.64 for ninth place in the 5000 while Sid Vaughn clocked the distance corps' fastest time (30:22.87) in the 10,000 last year for 13th place, which puts him 10th on the all-time list.
Carly Hamilton had a runner-up finish in the 1500 on the women's side with a 4:17.21. DiMercurio was 14th in the 5000 with a team-best time of 16:44.56 while Morgan VanGorder, who completed her career in 2013, had the fastest time for the Lady Bulldogs last year in the 10,000 at 34:57.90.
Results and recaps from the Mt. SAC Relays and the War Eagle Invitational will be located at georgiadogs.com. Updates about all Bulldog track and field news can be found on Twitter at @UGA_XCTF.