March 1, 2014
COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS --- Georgia freshman Leontia Kallenou set a meet record and tied the school record to win the high jump title during third day of the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships on Saturday on the Texas A&M campus.
Thanks in part to Kallenou's win, the Lady Bulldogs finished fifth with 64.50 points with Florida (102) winning. The Georgia men finished sixth with 39 points while Arkansas (121) celebrated a team championship.
This marks the teams' last meet before the NCAA Indoor Championships arrive in Albuquerque, N.M., on March 14-15.
"I am really happy with our performance this weekend," said head coach Wayne Norton. "Coming in, we knew it was going to be kind of tough and thought we would be in the ninth or 10th place for the men and maybe fifth, sixth or seventh for the women. But we finished better than we thought because so many people put it on the line and gave their best effort. I am happy to be where we are after dealing with a tough, challenging indoor season. We lost to some super-talented teams and we beat some talented teams. I would call this one of our best SEC meets in the last three or four years. Now we are excited about getting back to training and being ready in two weeks for NCAAs."
Kallenou cleared her first four heights on her opening attempt in the high jump, including a personal-best height of 6 feet, 2 ¾ inches. Although South Carolina senior Jeannelle Scheper also recorded the same height, Kallenou accomplished the feat on her first try while Scheper had a third-attempt clearance.
This performance tied Levern Spencer's school record set in 2008 and bested the SEC Championships meet record of 6-2 set by Spencer, along with two other competitors, in the past. Kallenou now shares the national lead with Scheper headed into the NCAA Championships as she gives the Lady Bulldogs their six SEC indoor crown in the event.
In addition, freshman Tatiana Gusin added 1.50 points to the Georgia women's total by tying for sixth place with a high jump clearance of 5-8.
Kallenou was the third Georgia competitor to win an SEC title this year. Junior Morgann Leleux won her third conference championship in the pole vault (first indoors) after reaching a season-best height of 14-4.50. Sophomore Maicel Uibo scored a season-best 5,859 points to complement the 2013 SEC decathlon crown he captured with this year's heptathlon championship.
This was the first SEC indoor women's pole vault championship for Georgia since Kierney (Hiteshew) Jackson won in 2006 to help the Lady Bulldogs capture the team crown. It is the fourth indoor conference title in the event for the Georgia women in history.
Uibo's title on Friday gave the Bulldogs back-to-back heptathlon championships after Garrett Scantling, who is redshirting with an injury this season, won in 2013. Georgia has won three heptathlon titles since the league made it a Championship event in 2004 (Tommy Barrineau, 2010).
Georgia picked up a pair of third-place finishes in the men and women's 800-meter run final. After locking down her third school record in a row during the prelims, Malasarte led for portions of the final before finishing in 2:04.48. Her school record time of 2:03.08 on Friday will assure her a spot at the NCAA Championships in two weeks.
Junior Charlie Grethen had early control of the four-lap competition on the men's side. The Luxembourg native slipped to third and eventually shot across the finish line in 1:49.86. The 16th and final spot on the national list was Grethen's exact time coming into the weekend and will more than likely not get him an invitation to Nationals.
The Lady Bulldogs' only fourth-place finisher at the meet was with yet another school record. Gunning for an opportunity to extend her season, junior Carly Hamilton improved her No. 1 time of 4:36.06 run in 2013 to 4:35.79 and was the fourth runner to cross the finish line. This time is forecasted to give her a ticket to the NCAA meet.
The Georgia men benefited from having a pair of scorers in the shot put, including a career-best outing by Jamaican sophomore Ashinia Miller. Miller went over 60 feet twice in his first five throws before uncorking the longest throw of his career (62-0.25) to finish fourth in the competition.
Miller's senior teammate, Caleb Whitener, opened with an effort of 60-4 to also scored one point in the shot. Junior Nick Vena, who was in the nation's top 16 to start the weekend, was ninth on Saturday after having a best throw of 58-1.75.
Also in the throws, true freshman Asianna Covington managed a fifth-place finish in the weight throw at her first SEC Championships. The British Columbia native bounced back from an opening foul to post four throws of at least 62 feet and two that measured more than 64 feet. Her top effort of 64-11.75 came in the fourth round.
The Bulldog men drove themselves to finish the meet in the 4x400 relay with a time that has only been beaten four times in school history. Sophomore Maurice Freeman brought Georgia into a tie for the lead in the opening leg and freshman Derrick White managed to keep his team within striking distance.
After the second hand-off, sophomore Jamario Calhoun sped past the leader and handed the baton to junior Drew Branch. Branch, who was coming off a career performance in the open 400, did not let any of the three runners in the Bulldogs' heat pass him and Georgia took fifth overall (3:08.42).
Similar to his other distance teammates, junior Brandon Lord also spent some time at the front of the pack during the 5000. Lord eventually completed his 25 laps in 14:13.18 for fifth-place honors.
The Birmingham, Ala., native finished two spots behind Lord's spot, but senior Leslie Boozer completed her career with the eighth-best 5000 mark in school history. Boozer ran a 16:34.28, which shaved 14 seconds off her former personal best set earlier this year at the Husky Classic.
Two more performances in the distance medley relay were strong enough to be included on Georgia's all-time top-10 lists for both the men and women. With freshman Brian Sullivan taking lead leg honors, freshman sprinter Reggie Glover, Grethen and sophomore Zack Sims combined to clock a school record time of 9:47.53. This was a second faster than Georgia's former school record set at the 2008 SEC Championships and gave the Bulldogs a sixth-place finish.
The Lady Bulldogs followed the men in the DMR and were also sixth. Savannah Kirk, Taylor Hollingsworth, Malasarte and Hamilton finished with the fifth-best time in school history (11:30.66). All top five times on Georgia's all-time top-10 list have been run during the last two seasons.
Results and recaps from the SEC Indoor Championships will be found at georgiadogs.com. News and updates from Georgia track and field teams are located on Twitter at @UGA_XCTF.