TUSCALOOSA, Ala. --- The Georgia women finished third and the men took fourth as the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships wrapped up on Sunday.
In addition, senior Krista Woodward (javelin), senior Jill Steffens (5000-meter run), junior Levern Spencer (high jump) and sophomore Justin Gaymon (400 hurdles) won SEC individual titles during the final day of the conference meet.
Leading going into the final day, Lady Bulldogs took third place with 106 points and claimed three more SEC individual titles on Sunday. LSU won the women's side of the meet and Arkansas managed second place.
The Georgia men, who took eighth place in 2006 after scoring 52.50 points, finished fourth with 78 points behind Tennessee, LSU and Arkansas. Highlighting their final day was Gaymon winning his first career title.
"I am happy with how we scored more than 100 points on the women's side for the fourth year in a row and I think that shows that we have a tremendous level of consistency," said head coach Wayne Norton. "Jill capped a great career today in the SEC and Levern and Krista took care of business and although we had a couple of malfunctions, I am pleased with the way we competed."
Norton was also pleased with the efforts of the men's team.
"For the men, whenever you finish in the top five in the SEC, that's an enormous accomplishment," Norton said. "I think we got back to the level that the men's track program at Georgia should be at this year and I'm excited about what they've done. I am also proud of Justin for stepping up like he did in the 400 hurdles."
Woodward stole the show for the Lady Bulldogs by winning the fourth SEC javelin title of her career. After dropping to second place behind a personal-best effort by teammate Sigrun Fjeldsted on her third attempt (168 feet, 2 inches), Woodward unleashed a fifth throw of 169-4 to retake the lead and win the championship.
Fjeldsted improved her No. 3 spot in the school record books and finished second for the second straight year, giving Georgia another 8 points.
Woodward has now won the 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007 league crowns after redshirting in 2003 with an elbow injury. The New Westminster, British Columbia, is one of four women in SEC history who have won four championships in the event, including Georgia's Vigdis Gudjonsdottir from 1996 to 1999.
"This was a great way to cap my career and I am excited to be joining the group that has won this all four years," said Woodward immediately after her victory. "I was in Athens graduating (on Saturday) and my teammate (Sigrun Fjeldsted) took second so this has really been an incredible weekend."
Senior Jill Steffens won half of Woodward's total of SEC titles in a three-day span after capturing the 5000-meter crown on Sunday. Steffens, who won the 10,000 title on Friday, clocked a 16:23.80 to edge junior teammate Sarah Madebach, who partnered with Steffens for most of the race, for the win.
"It feels phenomenal to win this one and especially since it came with the help of my best friend Sarah (Madebach," said Steffens. "If (Sarah) had not made the move when she did, this probably would not have happened. I couldn't ask for a better individual finale to my senior year."
Steffens' outdoor 5000 title is the first in the program's history on the women's side.
The second win and 10-point addition for the Lady Bulldogs on Sunday came from sophomore Levern Spencer in the high jump. Similar to Woodward, Spencer was the defending champion in her respective event and ended up breaking the SEC meet record with a jump of 6-1.25. Spencer joins Jennifer Dahlgren and Sarah Madebach as the Lady Bulldogs who broke meet records at the 2007 meet.
This is Spencer's third SEC title in the event after sweeping the event in 2006. Georgia has now won seven out of the last nine women's outdoor high jump championships, including the last four in a row.
"I came in mentally prepared and I am excited to repeat as champion," said Spencer. "The team was counting on me to score 10 points and I am happy I was able to do that today."
Sophomore Justin Gaymon claimed Georgia's third individual SEC title on Sunday after winning the 400 hurdles. Gaymon, who is the nation's leader in the event, surged into the lead down the final stretch finishing with a personal-best time of 49.25. Gaymon's crown is the first for Georgia in this event and marks the first time sprints coach Jon Stuart has had an outdoor conference champion.
"This race had the No. 1, No. 2 (LSU's Isa Phillips) and No. 4 (Auburn's Rueben McCoy) guys in the nation so it was a great field and I am glad I finished on top," said Gaymon. "I guess this is a little better than getting (disqualified) in the prelims so I am pleased with the way things happened."
Gaymon's championship was the first individual title for the Georgia men since 2005. Sophomore Keelan Knox, who was eighth in 2006, also managed to score in the 400 hurdles after taking seventh place (51.60).
Gaymon also scored in the 110 hurdles after crossing the finish line in 14.17. The New Jersey native took fifth in the event as all nine finalists clocked NCAA regional qualifying times.
Also on the track, senior David Dickens broke 46 seconds for the first time in his career and took third place in the 400. Dickens, who was leading the conference coming into the meet with a time of 46.00, improved one place from his 2006 finish and bettered his No. 4 spot in Georgia's all-time list.
Senior Brian Etelman also broke into the scorers in the 200 after finishing in 21.28 for seventh place.
Not long after sprinting to his 400 finish, Dickens returned to the track in the 200 and locked down yet another third-place finish. Finishing in 20.76, Dickens jumped four spots from his 2006 finish to add to the Bulldogs' point total.
Dickens also provided a boost for the Bulldogs as the 4x100 team finished third. Along with sophomore Jarrell Stewart, Etelman and sophomore Michael Proctor, Georgia clocked the sixth-fastest time in school history (39.55) and improved their regional time for the upcoming NCAA East Regional.
Also filling a spot on the men's 4x400 team, Dickens teamed with Etelman, Proctor and Gaymon to clock a 3:08.31 to finish seventh.
In the men's shot put, junior Kyle Helf went from taking sixth in 2006 to finishing third this year with a mark of 59-3. Freshman Geno Atkins, who also sits atop the depth chart for Georgia's defense on the football field, had a throw of 54-4 to finish 11th at his first SEC outdoor meet.
Battling in one of the final events of the night, senior Shenae Dawkins took fifth place in the triple jump with a mark of 41-10. Dawkins' effort was the second best of the 2007 season for her.
With Kierney Jackson, a three-time SEC pole vault champion for Georgia, graduating in 2006, the Lady Bulldogs saw sophomore Julianne Toto score 3 points in the event with a sixth-place finish. Toto reached a height of 12-1.50 along with three other competitors to give Georgia 3 more points.
A first-time scorer for the Bulldogs was junior Ross Ridgewell. Ridgewell, who came into the race at the sixth-ranked 800 runner, finished sixth with a regional and season-best time of 1:49.70 to give Georgia 3 points.
Also in the mid-distance bracket, junior Ryley Miller battled to the 1500 finish in 3:49.43 to notch seventh place for 2 additional points. Miller had the 11th-quickest time in the SEC going into the conference meet.
The Georgia women managed 3 more points in the women's discus despite a season-low effort by sophomore Josipa Jelicic. Jelicic, who was ranked second in the conference after a career-best throw of 169-2 at the Georgia Relays, had a throw of 154 on her fifth throw to go along with three fouls.
In the women's 4x100, senior Yendy Gilchrist, junior Felicia Hamilton, sophomore Kim House and junior Tangie Lowe tallied another point for the Lady Bulldogs with a time of 45.77. Georgia's finish was a season-best effort and just .07 from being a regional time.
Sarah Madebach gave the Georgia women their third individual title of the meet on Saturday night. The junior from Augusta, Ga., finished the steeplechase in 10:13.73 to give the Lady Bulldogs the first SEC steeplechase win in school history and the first conference crown of her career. Her time also broke the SEC meet record from 2001, which was 10:13.89.
On Friday, seniors Jennifer Dahlgren and Steffens both claimed SEC individual titles to give the Lady Bulldogs' an early boost. Dahlgren won her second straight hammer throw championship after launching a meet-record effort of 227 and is now poised to defend her NCAA title in June. Steffens clocked a 35:45.48 to win the 10,000 after pulling away from the challengers with seven laps left in the race.
Full results and a recap from the SEC Championships can be found at georgiadogs.com.
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