Nineteen Bulldogs Prepare For Action At NCAA Track & Field Championships
June 5, 2012
DES MOINES --- Georgia’s track and field teams made their third trip in the last five years to Des Moines, Iowa, for the NCAA Outdoor Championships on Monday as the meet is scheduled to crank up on Wednesday, June 6 and run through Saturday, June 9.
Twelve of the 19 Georgia team members who qualified for the NCAA Championships have already competed at Drake University’s Jim Duncan Track this season at the Drake Relays in late April. Six of UGA’s competitors in Des Moines also competed at the 2011 NCAA meet at Drake.
Action begins with the men’s discus at 3:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday afternoon. Sophomore Burke McCarty will be getting his first opportunity at Nationals in the event. Freshman Allison Updike (javelin), freshman Morgann Leleux (pole vault), the men’s 4x100-meter relay, senior Aaron Evans (800), sophomore Megan Malasarte (800) and senior Torrin Lawrence (400) will also be competing on the meet’s first day.
Leleux, who competes at 6:30 p.m., will be competing for the first time since being named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) South Region Women’s Field Athlete of the Year on Monday
In addition to the Bulldogs listed above, senior Nikola Lomnicka (hammer throw), sophomore Hilenn James (shot put), junior Saniel Atkinson (high jump) and junior Lucie Ondraschkova (heptathlon) are the other Georgia women who qualified for NCAAs.
On the men’s side, sophomore Justin Welch (hammer throw), senior Matt Cleaver (steeplechase), sophomore Caleb Whitener (shot put) and the 4x400 relay team have punched their tickets to Des Moines. Senior Phillip Adams, sophomore Waymon Storey, junior Eric Harris and freshman Justin Scott-Wesley are expected to run the 4x100 relay while Adams, Lawrence, freshman Chris Foster and freshman Drew Branch are in the lineup for the 4x400 relay.
ESPNU will televise Saturday’s action from noon until 2 p.m. The ESPN announcing team is comprised of Trey Bender (play-by-play), Larry Rawson (analyst) and Jill Montgomery (reporter). The entire event will be streamed live through ESPN3.com, with the exception of Wednesday, which will be streamed at www.NCAA.com. The online coverage is available for free.
“It is time to be ready so we are ready,” said Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton, whose teams are the final Georgia athletic squads still competing this academic year. “Because the NCAA Championships are being held at the site of the Drake Relays, I hope the familiarity with the Drake University facilities and community will contribute to a successful meet for us. Most of our athletes have competed here at least once in the past and done well. We had a great meet at the SEC Championships and followed that up with a very good meet at the East Region so I fully expect lots of good results this week.”
A group of Bulldogs traveling to Iowa are ranked in the top-10 nationally, including Leleux with one of the top five highest pole vault marks in the country.
“As always, our success will depend primarily on our top-ranked athletes coming through and scoring most of our points,” Norton said. “In track championships, every single point is important because often an increase of two or three points can mean moving up two, three and sometimes five team places. That’s why even our athletes who are not ranked high need to fight and claw their way into the scoring places.”
Of the 13 individual events and two relays that Georgia is scheduled to compete in, 12 of those individuals or relays posted season-best marks at either the SEC Championships or NCAA East Prelims. Cleaver highlighted the dozen after breaking his school record in the steeplechase for the third consecutive time with an 8:41.86.
The main disappointments from the qualifying meet came after senior Brian Moore, a three-time SEC javelin champion, injured himself before SECs and was unable to compete at Prelims. Then, James, who will be competing in the shot put on Friday, went to the Prelims with the nation’s seventh-best discus toss but finished 40th after suffering a pair of fouls. Finally, senior Colleen Felix fouled out of the triple jump after capturing the last two SEC indoor titles.
“We go into the Championship meet in fairly good shape overall in that those who are qualified have been very good over the last few weeks of the season,” said Norton. “However we go in without qualifiers in three events in which we had expected a lot out of this season. Those events are the men’s javelin, the women’s discus and women’s triple jump. For the last two years, we have had to overcome lots of obstacles to produce the success we have had. At least now we know how to do that.”
Georgia featured a scorer on both the men’s and women’s teams in 2011. Lomnicka had a season-best hammer toss of 212 feet, 10 inches to take third as the Lady Bulldogs finished tied for 40th at last year’s NCAAs with six points. Decathlete Michael Ayers was sixth at the national meet to put the Georgia men in a tie for 54th place nationally with three points.
The Bulldogs last had a top-25 finish after taking 11th in 2009 with 19 points. The Georgia women managed a ninth-place finish in 2007 after the Lady Bulldogs exploded for 24 points during their last visit to the top 25. In 2005, the Georgia women piled up 28 points to take sixth while the men scored 17.50 to finish 15th to give the program its best combined finish in recent history,
Live results and recaps from each day’s action at the NCAA Championships will be found at georgiadogs.com.
Georgia’s competitors at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Wednesday, June 6: men's discus (Burke McCarty) – 3:30 pm
women's javelin (Allison Updike) – 3:40 pm
women's pole vault (Morgann Leleux) - 6:30 pm
men's 4x100m relay semifinal – 6:30 pm
men's 800m semifinal (Aaron Evans) - 7:15 pm
women's 800m semifinal (Megan Malasarte) - 7:30 pm
men's 400m semifinal (Torrin Lawrence) - 7:45 pm
Thursday, June 7: women's hammer (Nikola Lomnicka) - 4 pm
heptathlon 100m hurdles (& then next four events for Lucie Ondraschkova with a 30-min break between each event) - 2:00 pm
men's steeplechase semifinal (Matt Cleaver) - 8:25 pm
men's 4x400m semifinal – 8:05 pm
Friday, June 8: men's hammer (Justin Welch) - 3 pm
heptathlon long jump (& then the final three events for Ondraschkova with the same 30 min break between) – 3:00 pm
women's high jump (Saniel Atkinson) - 5:30 pm
women's shot put (Hilenn James) - 6 pm
men's 800m finals (Aaron Evans) - 7:10 pm
women's 800m finals (Megan Malasarte) - 7:20 pm
men's 400 finals (Torrin Lawrence) - 7:55 pm
Saturday, June 9: men's shot put (Caleb Whitener) - 11 am
men's 4x100m relay final – 12:00 pm
men's 4x400 relay final – 1:40 pm
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