May 14, 2014
ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia's track and field teams have reached the postseason portion of their season as the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships begin on Thursday and run through Sunday in Lexington, Ky.
The fifth-ranked Lady Bulldogs and seventh-ranked Georgia men join the rest of the league's teams at Kentucky's two and a half year old facility. A nation-leading 17 SEC men and women's teams are ranked in the latest U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) top-25 polls.
Freshman Kendell Williams and junior Quintunya Chapman start the meet for Georgia in the first event of the heptathlon at noon on Thursday. Junior Garrett Scantling and sophomore Maicel Uibo begin the Bulldog men's competition in the decathlon's opening event at 12:30 p.m. on that same day.
Senior Elizabeth Tepe and freshman Asianna Covington are slated to compete in the meet's first open event, the women's hammer throw, at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. Tepe is the defending champion in the event.
Live coverage of the meet will air on ESPN3.com on Saturday and Sunday. The coverage will air from 3:40 p.m.-6:50 p.m. on Saturday and 1:50 p.m.-5:50 p.m. on Sunday, including the trophy presentations. ESPNU will air the SEC Championships as part of a two-hour show on ESPNU on Thursday, May 22, beginning at 8 p.m. The broadcast talent includes Dwight Stones (play-by-play), Larry Rawson (analyst) and Lewis Johnson (reporter).
"This time of the year, everyone is focused on what is going to happen next," said Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton. "There is no let's make some small progress here and see how it turns out at the end. Well, this is the end. Everyone is focused on what we are going to do right now. It is not even about the pressure of the meet or anything like that. It's more about now we're here and let's focus on getting the job done that we have been working so hard on all these months."
The Georgia women are coming off a third-place finish at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships. They have three competitors who have the best marks in the SEC this year in their respective events in senior Megan Malasarte (800-meter run), sophomore Leontia Kalllenou (high jump) and Williams (heptathlon).
The Lady Bulldogs also have four individuals who are ranked second in the conference standings heading into this meet: sophomore Freya Jones (javelin), Chapman (heptathlon), sophomore Chanice Porter (long jump) and Tepe (hammer throw). In addition, Williams is also No. 2 on the high jump list after clearing 6 feet during the Bulldog Heptathlon.
"The women's team is young, but they are talented and they are focused," Norton said. "We expect a very good showing from the Lady Bulldogs. We have a young team, but an accomplished team who has experience internationally and from World Junior meets and those kinds of things. With the state of the SEC, you have to have highly ranked individuals to have an effect on that team score and that's exactly what we have."
The Bulldog men are also ranked 1-2 in the multi-events as Scantling (81,69 points) and Uibo (8,123) are at the top of the league list. The rest of Georgia's potential SEC scorers are spread out among the sprinters, throwers, distance runners and jumpers, who have all surged to personal-best or near personal-best levels in the last month.
This meet opens the postseason for Georgia. After SECs, the Bulldogs travel to Jacksonville, Fla., for the NCAA East Regionals on May 29-31 and then those who qualify will go to Eugene, Ore., for the NCAA Championships on June 11-14.
"The good thing about both teams is that we haven't had much of a drop-off," said Norton. "Once they got to a certain level, they were able to stay there. The men have leveled off, but if they keep those performances during the next three meets that we have, we will be very excited and satisfied with the results."
Georgia enters this meet having won four out of five SEC weekly awards following last weekend's Georgia Invitational in Athens. These honors came after the Bulldogs recorded 12 wins, a national-leading mark in the women's high jump and a school record for the Lady Bulldogs.
Williams was named the SEC Women's Runner of the Week and the Freshman of the Week after setting a school record in the 100 hurdles with a 13.06. Kallenou garnered SEC Women's Field Athlete of the Week honors after surging to the top of the national performance list with a clearance of 6 feet, 3 ¼ inches to win the high jump.
On the men's side, true freshman Alex Poursanidis was awarded the SEC Men's Freshman of the Week honor after winning the hammer throw with the second-best mark of his career.
Last year, Georgia finished fifth at the SEC Outdoor Championships in Columbia, Mo. The Bulldogs had a combined five conference individual champions as Tepe (hammer), junior Morgann Leleux (pole vault), junior Carly Hamilton (1500), Uibo (decathlon) and Saniel Atkinson-Grier (high jump) all finished first. Tepe, Hamilton and Uibo will be defending their titles in Lexington. Leleux is redshirting this season and Atkinson-Grier has graduated.
Results and recaps from the SEC Championships will be located at georgiadogs.com. Updates about all Bulldog track and field news can be found on Twitter at @UGA_XCTF.