Junior Johnathan Smith is qualified for the NCAA East Prelims in three events: 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay.
May 22, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia's track and field program has 25 individuals and three relay teams headed to Greensboro, N.C, for the NCAA East Preliminary Round.
The three-day meet begins at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday at North Carolina A&T State University's Belk Track and runs through Saturday night at 9:45 p.m. Junior Burke McCarty starts the action for the Bulldogs in the men's discus on Thursday at 10 a.m. The first event on the track for Georgia is the 400-meter hurdles as sophomore Drew Branch attempts to advance to the NCAA finals at 5 p.m.
"At the start of the year, I thought we would have a lot more people going to this competition but a lot has happened since then," said Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton. "So we find ourselves with what I would call an average-sized group on both the men's and women's side. The good thing is we have some qualify in terms of highly ranked athletes in some events. Success in the SEC and NCAA depends on quality and not quantity."
Now, Norton understands the key is for his student-athletes to finish in the top 12 in their respective events. The top 12 in each event from both the East and West (Austin, Texas) regions advance to the finals of the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., on June 5-8. Seventeen of the Bulldog individuals or relay teams are currently ranked in the top 12 in the East Region.
"Everyone knows that this meet is nothing more than a glorified qualifying round which means if you make it in the top 12, you move on and if you do not, your season is over," said Norton. "We want to score points in the NCAA Championships. And we are well aware that you cannot do that if you are not in the top 12 this week. We would like to have everyone who competes this week to finish in the top 12 so they can be in Eugene in three weeks to compete for points."
The following Bulldog men are traveling to Greensboro for the East Prelims: junior Johnathan Smith (100, 200), sophomore Charles Grethen, senior Daniel Grass, freshman Kisean Smith (800), Branch (400 hurdles), men's 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams (Branch, Smith, freshman Maurice Freeman, freshman Pierce Vincent, sophomore Justin Scott-Wesley, freshman Jamario Calhoun), Freeman (high jump), junior Caleb Whitener, sophomore Nick Vena, freshman Ashinia Miller, senior Petr Novotny (shot put) and junior Burke McCarty (discus).
On the women's side, the following will be competing: freshman Briana Vaughn, sophomore Tynia Gaither (100), freshman Shaunae Miller (400), Gaither (200), junior Megan Malasarte (800), sophomore Carly Hamilton (1500), senior Leslie Boozer (steeplechase), senior Morgan VanGorder (10,000), women's 4x100 relay team (Vaughn, Gaither, Miller, freshman Rashan Brown, sophomore Quintunya Chapman), senior Saniel Atkinson-Grier, freshman Leontia Kallenou (high jump), sophomore Morgann Leleux (pole vault), freshman Chanice Porter (long jump), junior Hilenn James (shot put), junior Elizabeth Tepe (hammer throw) and freshman Freya Jones (javelin).
Three Georgia student-athletes have already punched their ticket to the University of Oregon for the NCAA finals. True freshman Maicel Uibo, who won the 2013 Southeastern Conference decathlon title, has scored the second-most points in the nation this year (a school record 8,223 points). The top 12 multi-event athletes in the decathlon and heptathlon from each region automatically qualify for the finals of the NCAA Championships.
Sophomore Garrett Scantling, who has the third-best decathlon score (7,824) in the East Region and seventh best nationally, along with senior Lucie Ondraschkova have also already earned a trip to the NCAA finals. Ondraschkova has scored the eighth-most heptathlon points (5,701) in the country this year and is ranked third in the East.
The Bulldogs qualified 13 individuals and two relay teams for the final round of the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Five women (Malasarte, Atkinson-Grier, Leleux, James, Ondraschkova) and four men (Scott-Wesley - 4x100 relay, Branch - 4x400 relay, Whitener, McCarty) who advanced last year are gunning for another shot this year.
Several of those returners scored in 2012. Leleux led the charge at the meet after taking second in the pole vault. The New Iberia, La., native also earned runner-up honors at the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships. Atkinson-Grier, who like Leleux is coming off an SEC title, tied for sixth at last year's NCAA outdoor meet with a clearance of 6 feet.
In addition, Malasarte set a school record in the 800 to take seventh in the 2012 NCAA finals for two points.
The Lady Bulldogs tied for 21st with 14 points at last year's national outdoor meet while the Georgia men tied for 64th with two points. At this year's NCAA Indoor Championships in early March, the women were 10th with 22 points and the men tied for 18th with 11 points.
Live results and recaps from the NCAA East Prelims will be found at georgiadogs.com.