Georgia Track & Field Travels West As SECs Near
Sophomore Charles Grethen is leading a group headed to the Mt. SAC Relays in California.


Sophomore Charles Grethen is leading a group headed to the Mt. SAC Relays in California.
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April 17, 2013

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ATHENS, Ga. --- After posting a portion of the season's best performances at the home meet last weekend, Georgia's track and field teams travel west to a pair of meets this week.

Nine Bulldogs are scheduled to travel to Walnut, Calif., on Wednesday to compete at the Mt. SAC Relays, which run Thursday to Saturday.  Another thirty-three members of Georgia's teams will make the trip to Auburn, Ala., on Thursday for the War Eagle Invitational, which has events starting late Friday and all day Saturday.

The Bulldogs are coming off a combined performance at the Bulldog Decathlon and Heptathlon and the Spec Towns National Team Invitational that propelled them to identical No. 12 national rankings in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) polls.

Individually, a pair of true freshman swept the USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week awards after their convincing wins in Athens.  Maicel Uibo, who also earned the weekly Southeastern Conference Field Athlete and Freshman awards, set a school record in the decathlon with a world-leading score of 8,223 points. 

Shaunae Miller, who also garnered SEC Freshman of the Week honors, took control of the national list in the 200-meter dash after clocking the third-fastest time (22.41) in school history.  The 2013 NCAA indoor 400 champion has the fastest wind-aided time in the world this year.

In addition, senior Lucie Ondraschkova was named the SEC Field Athlete of the Week on the women's side after tallying her second collegiate win in the heptathlon with the fifth-best score in the nation this year.

"The outdoor season has progressed similarly as the indoor season did," said head coach Wayne Norton, whose teams each had finishes in the top 18 at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships.  "Those who have been healthy and able to compete have done a nice job of improving as time has passed and the temperatures have climbed.  We have done very well for the point in the season where we are."

As they traditionally do, Georgia's distance runners are traveling to California as they attempt to qualify more competitors for the NCAA East Regionals, which arrive on May 23-25 in Greensboro, N.C.  The top 48 marks/times from each event in both the East and West regions will advance to the two regionals.  The top 12 finishers at each regional will advance to the NCAA Championships, which are in Eugene, Ore., on June 5-8.

Currently, there are eight of the all-time top-10 UGA times in the men and women's distance events that came from the Mt. SAC meet, including the school record in the women's 5000 (Kristie Krueger, 16:00.66, 2012).

Norton believes that similar performances are to come this weekend.

"At Mt. SAC, we need our crew to produce some times that put them near the top of the SEC rankings and in the top 10-20 in the East Region," Norton said.  "By doing that, they will have more confidence when they get into those competitions next month.  Running fast times gives a runner confidence that is based on fact to go along with the confidence that is based on a belief in oneself.  We have had success with this formula in the past so I look forward to the times that will come out of this trip."  

With no chance of rain and temperatures forecasted between the 50s and the low 80s, Norton also thinks the weather and the competition will push the Bulldogs to new heights.

"The climate and the pace of each race should be ideal for running personal bests," said Norton.  

The crew traveling to Auburn is scheduled to compete in a variety of events ranging from distance races, to the triple jump, to the shot put, to the sprints and beyond.  This meet will mark the third of four regular season meets in April.  While the East Regionals are a target on Georgia's schedule, the teams are also preparing for the SEC Championships in Columbia, Mo., on May 9-12.

"For us, the meet at Auburn is simply a continuation of our April segment of the season in which we need to have more and more of our athletes come up with their best of the season so far," Norton said.  "We don't need everyone at their absolute best but we need those who have not had a break-out performance yet to have one.  The more people we have who elevate their individual performances, the better chance we have to be a good team down the road."

Live results and recaps from each meet will be found at georgiadogs.com.

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