June 10, 2014
ATHENS, Ga. --- The Bulldog track and field teams sent 22 members to Eugene, Ore., on Sunday for the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships to represent the University of Georgia's last team competing during the 2013-14 school year.
Georgia will join the rest of the nation's elite at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field for Nationals on Wednesday, June 11 through Saturday, June 14. Junior Garrett Scantling and sophomore Maicel Uibo, who are situated first and second, respectively, in the national rankings, start the meet in the decathlon on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Live telecast of the Championships will occur at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and 5 p.m. on Saturday on ESPNU. ESPN3 will stream live coverage on Wednesday and Thursday.
"It has been a very good year overall, aside from some injuries and things like that," said Wayne Norton, who in his 15th year as the Bulldogs' head coach was named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) South Region Women's Coach of the Year this week. "The team and athletes are focused on getting better. This has been a year where we haven't had to motivate them or light fires under them. They have had their goals from the beginning and have continued to work towards those.
"If you look back at what happened indoors, what we had happen at NCAAs was indicative that those guys knew what they needed to do and they were able to do a lot. In May and June, we are probably as good as we have been all year long and that's a good thing to have happen. Of course, it doesn't mean anything if we can't get the job done in the next couple of days."
The seventh-ranked Bulldog men have 13 student-athletes set to compete, including both the 4x100-meter and 4x400 relay teams. The sixth-ranked Georgia women traveled nine team members, including the nation's top-ranked competitor in the heptathlon (Kendell Williams) and high jump (Leontia Kallenou).
Also on the women's side, junior Quintunya Chapman (heptathlon), freshman Tatiana Gusin (high jump), junior Carly Hamilton (1500), sophomore Freya Jones (javelin), senior Megan Malasarte (800), sophomore Chanice Porter (long jump) and senior Elizabeth Tepe (hammer) will team with Williams and Kallenou for the Lady Bulldogs.
Jones, who is the defending NCAA javelin champion, Kallenou and Malasarte have all scored at prior NCAA outdoor meets and Porter also advanced to Nationals in 2013.
"The bad thing about being a coach is that I have already started thinking about next year," said Norton. "This is a young group and as you have seen the last two years, we have had some young people do big things. All three NCAA titles that we have won during that period have come from freshmen. We are bringing in athletes who are prepared and ready to win from the beginning and not looking for a redshirt year to develop. I told this team at the start of the postseason that we don't want you to come to these meets to get experience. We want you to come here and get the job done. We expect high-level performances in Oregon and for them to come back and do it all again next year."
Junior Drew Branch (400 hurdles, 4x400 relay), sophomore Jamario Calhoun (4x100 relay), freshman Ayrian Evans (4x400 relay), sophomore Maurice Freeman (4x400 relay), freshman Reggie Glover (4x100 and 4x400 relays), freshman Alex Larsson (hammer), junior Brandon Lord (10,000), freshman Alex Poursanidis (hammer), senior Johnathan Smith (100, 4x100 relay), freshman Brandon Thompson (4x100 relay) and junior Nick Vena (shot put) will join Scantling and Uibo in competition for the Georgia men.
Five of the Bulldogs (Branch, Smith, Vena, Scantling, Uibo) have competed at the NCAA Outdoor Championships before and Uibo is the sole returning scorer.
In the throws, Poursanidis exploded for a personal best in the hammer (227 feet, 3 inches) to have the nation's second-longest qualifying throw while Vena tossed the shot a career-best distance of 66-10.75 to have the country's third-best throw during the Prelim round.
"Our people were ranked high coming into the Regionals or left the meet with some of the nation's top marks," Norton explained. "Both relays kind of snuck through at the Regional meet but they had some of the top times going into the meet. We have a chance to be good or really good in all of our events and that is the encouraging thing about this men's team."
Last year, the Lady Bulldogs tied for 11th with 25 points and the Georgia men tied for 49th with five points. Jones' javelin championship paced the Georgia women with 10 points while Kallenou had her breakout meet to take fourth with a personal-best clearance of 6-1.50 in the high jump. Shaunae Miller, who is now racing professionally and still training in Athens, also earned runner-up honors in the 400 and 2013 outdoors senior Lucie Ondraschkova took seventh in the heptathlon.
Uibo was the only scorer for the Bulldog men in Eugene last outdoor season. The Polva, Estonia, native scored 8,017 points for fifth place as Scantling finished one spot out of scoring in ninth with 7,872 points.
Results and recaps from the NCAA Championships will be located at georgiadogs.com. Updates about all Bulldog track and field news can be found on Twitter at @UGA_XCTF.