Georgia Track & Field Tunes Up At Drake Relays As Postseason Nears
Drew Branch will be gunning to finish as former Bulldog Justin Gaymon did in the 400m hurdles at the Drake Relays.

April 23, 2014

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ATHENS, Ga. --- The Bulldog track and field teams travel to Des Moines, Iowa, this week in preparation for the Drake Relays, which run from Thursday through Saturday.

The Lady Bulldogs held their spot at fifth in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll while the Georgia men jumped three spots to sixth in the current national poll.

Other than the Georgia Invitational at the Spec Towns Track in Athens on May 10, this weekend's meet will serve as one of the final tune-ups for the postseason. 

Georgia and representatives from the other 13 Southeastern Conference schools are slated to compete at the SEC Championships in Lexington, Ky., on May 15-18.

"We have had a very good month of April so we can't ease up or regress now," said Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton.  "The good thing about the teams' performances is that we are seeing a decent degree of consistency at a fairly high level.  At Drake, we need to keep doing what we have been doing.  We usually come out of Drake feeling good about what we accomplished there which is one of the reasons the team looks forward to the meet.

"Even if things don't go as well as we would like them to, it's too late in the season to allow ourselves to feel bad.  In other words, we need to feel confident and be positive because we need to feel confident and be positive."

Georgia is expected to open the meet in the 4x1600-meter relay at 6:05 p.m. on Thursday and junior Marrion Kalafut is scheduled to run her first 10,000 of the year at 8:30 p.m. that same day.

Action will continue on Friday morning and wrap up with the men's 4x400 relay late in the afternoon on Saturday.

Former Lady Bulldog Gudrun Arnardottir will be one of two athletes inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame during the meet.  Arnardottir, a native of Iceland, was a five-time All-American and a six-time Southeastern Conference champion in the hurdles and sprints.  A two-time Olympian, Arnardottir was seventh in the 400 hurdles at the 2000 Olympics.

Trips throughout the years to the Drake Relays have been productive for the Bulldogs.  Georgia has established 14 existing marks in its all-time top-10 lists, including a school record on the men and women's side.

Last year, Georgia tallied seven victories during their annual trip to Drake.  Carly Hamilton highlighted the trip by setting a school record in the 1500 thanks to a Drake Relays record time of 4:12.15.  On the men's side, Nick Vena won the shot put at 62 feet, ½ inches and had his teammates Ashinia Miller and Caleb Whitener followed in the second and third spots.

The Lady Bulldogs also ran to top honors in the 4x200 relay while the Georgia men captured the sprint medley relay title in 2013.  

Arnardottir Has Company: Arnardottir will join three other former Georgia standouts in the Drake Relays Hall of Fame.  Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie, Gwen Torrence and Mel Lattany have all been inducted thanks to their success on the Drake Stadium track.

Results and recaps from the Drake Relays will be located at  Updates about all Bulldog track and field news can be found on Twitter at @UGA_XCTF.



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