May 9, 2014
ATHENS, Ga. --- Before the postseason arrives on May 15 for Georgia's track and field teams, the Bulldogs will host the Georgia Invitational at the Spec Towns Track on Saturday, May 10.
This marks the final regular season meet before the Southeastern Conference Championships arrive in Lexington, Ky., starting on Thursday of next week and running through Sunday.
Georgia's second home meet of the year starts with the women's hammer throw at 9 a.m. Senior Elizabeth Tepe is preparing to defend her SEC title in the event. A pair of Bulldog true freshmen - Alex Poursanidis and Alex Larsson - will sharpen their skills in the men's hammer at 10:30 a.m. The final field event, the men's pole vault, is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
The Georgia Invitational's running events are slated to begin with the coed 3000-meter run at 12:15 p.m.
"This is the first time in about five years we have been able to host this meet because of the shifting dates of our final examination schedule," said Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton after UGA had the last of its final exams of the spring on May 6. "I am looking forward to some big things happening for those competing. During this time of the year, everyone has the same objections: get quality marks."
Norton's teams have already had six regular season meet weekends and have trained since the fall to peak during the months of May and June.
"This meet provides a superb opportunity to get in a tune-up for the SEC meet for our men and women who have not competed a lot recently," Norton said. "Some have only had one meet in the last month so they can really benefit from a meet this week."
The Bulldogs will be welcoming South Carolina, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Samford, Austin Peay, Georgia Southern and others to Athens for Saturday's meet.
The home teams each carry a No. 6 national ranking coming into the meet, according to the latest U.S Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) polls. They are two of 12 SEC teams ranked in the top 10 with SECs less than a week away. There is little more than a month left before the NCAA Championships arrive in Eugene, Ore., on June 11-14.
"Through the month of April, the 2014 versions of the UGA track and field teams, men and women taken together, are the best we have had in about 15 years," Norton said. "We have had better men's teams and we have had better women's teams, but this year's combined teams have had some noteworthy headlines to this point. The final evaluations will come in May 18th and June 14th."
Success In The Homeland: Last time they competed in Athens, Georgia had immense success. The Bulldogs tallied 15 top collegiate finishes and swept the Bulldog Decathlon and Heptathlon competitions. Freshman Kendell Williams highlighted the weekend with an American Junior record in the heptathlon thanks to 6,018 points, which remains atop the country's 2014 performance list.
Williams, along with the nation's No. 2 heptathlete, Georgia junior Quintunya Chapman, are slated to compete in the javelin and 100 hurdles on Saturday.
For the men, junior Garrett Scantling made his season debut at the Spec Towns facility and scored the nation's top mark in the decathlon this year with a career-best tally of 8,169. He and the country's second-ranked decathlete - Bulldog sophomore Maicel Uibo - will be running the 110 hurdles and jumping in the pole vault.
Flurry Of Field Events: While many of Georgia's sprinters and distance runners who will be running at SECs are anticipating a rest from competition on Saturday, those Bulldogs in field events are gunning for one final tune-up.
Tepe is ranked 10th nationally in the hammer at 207 feet, 6 inches while Poursanidis sits 11th on the men's national list and third in the SEC and Larsson sits not far behind Poursanidis at No. 17 on the national list (fifth in the SEC).
In the high jump, sophomore Leontia Kallenou, who is ranked third nationally with a personal-best clearance of 6-2 at the Spec Towns Invite, will be lining up at noon. Three Bulldog shot putters in the nation's top 20, led by senior Caleb Whitener (No. 7 at 65-0.75), will be throwing at 11:45 a.m.
For the women, 2013 SEC indoor shot champion and First Team All-American Hilenn James is scheduled to throw for the first time this season at 1 p.m. James is also scheduled to throw the discus.
Finally, 2013 NCAA javelin champion Freya Jones is aiming for her third consecutive victory this season. The sophomore will be throwing at 1:30 p.m.
Results and recaps from the Georgia Invitational will be located at georgiadogs.com. Updates about all Bulldog track and field news can be found on Twitter at @UGA_XCTF.