The University of Georgia track and field teams will officially start their 2016 indoor season in Birmingham, Ala., which is the site of this year’s NCAA Indoor Championships, on Friday.
Two Days, Two Meets: The Bulldogs will join meet host UAB, Florida, Mississippi State and a host of neighboring schools at Friday’s Blazer Invitational. Action will begin with the women’s high jump and women’s mile at 12 p.m. ET in the CrossPlex facility.
On Saturday, UAB will host a second meet, the Vulcan Invitational, starting at 9 a.m. with the women’s 5000-meter run. The first field events crank up at 11 a.m.
Where The Bulldogs Rank: The Georgia women are ranked second in the preseason U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) national poll. The Bulldog men are ranked sixth nationally going into the opener. Both of these rankings match the teams’ top final NCAA indoor finishes in history.
“Going into the first meet of the year, we have our minds set to preform at a respectable level and to try and stay healthy and get some qualifiers for the NCAA Championships,” said first-year Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou. “That has always been our goal and that’s what we are shooting for this weekend. Birmingham is the site of this year’s NCAA Championships so we are basically taking the whole team to see who is up for some challenges this year.”
Kyprianou is aiming for a strong start from his teams. However, he and the team understand that there is nearly two months until the NCAA Championships arrive so they have to pace themselves.
“We are training through this meet so we are not trying to peak right now or do anything spectacular. We want to go into this meet and do some simple things the best way we can. Our challenge is to stay healthy during this transition from an outdoor track to an indoor track, which is not easy because it’s not the same. But there are no excuses so we all have to work hard and I think our teams are prepared.”
Who Is Representing The Red And Black: The following Lady Bulldogs are traveling: graduate student Xenia Rahn, seniors Chanice Porter, Ashley Henry, Torrenzia Lyles, juniors Kendell Williams, Leontia Kallenou, Georgia Stefanidi, Tatiana Gusin, sophomores Keturah Orji, Mady Fagan, Hailey Branch, Allie Castro, Devon Artis, Sarah Gardner, Katie Stone, Catelyn Schmiedebusch, Kate Northrop, Lauren Hovis, Natalie Bordes, Aliyah Johnson, freshmen Grace Tavani, Emily Savage, Mary Terry, Kayla Smith, Kingsley Green and Dorie Faber.
The following Georgia men will be joining them in Birmingham: seniors Jamario Calhoun, Ayrian Evans, Christian Harrison, Kisean Smith, Michael Giuliano, Garrett Scantling, Maicel Uibo, juniors Maurice Freeman, Reggie Glover, Derrick White, Jon Okoye, Devon Williams, sophomores Raytez Jenkins, Bryan Kamau, Karl Saluri, Jon Moses, freshmen Jonathan Raines and Jeramey Hampton.
Actually, In December . . . : Two Bulldogs started their indoor season in December 2015. Senior Ashinia Miller is ranked third nationally and leading the league in the shot put after opening with a win (62 feet, 8 1Ž2 inches) at the IceBreaker meet in Birmingham on Dec. 4. Junior Alex Poursanidis is holding down the third spot in the SEC (16th nationally) after finishing first in the weight throw with a toss of 65-3.50. Both Georgia throwers will train through this weekend’s meets in Athens.
This Year’s Captains: Kendell Williams, Gusin, Miller and Glover have been named the teams’ captains as the six months of indoor and outdoor track and field begin.
Birmingham: Home Away From Home: This pair of meets will mark two of the six meets Georgia is competing in at Birmingham’s CrossPlex facility this year. In addition to the throwers’ trip there last month and the two meets this weekend, the Bulldogs will return for the Samford Open and the Samford Invitational on back-to-back days in February and then for the first time for the NCAA Indoor Championships (March 11-12). This will mark the first time that the NCAA meet is in this location.
Last Year Indoors: Georgia is coming off one of its most productive indoor seasons in history last year. The Lady Bulldogs had their second-best finish (third) in school history at the NCAA indoor meet with 37 points. Kendell Williams topped her own collegiate record in the pentathlon to win her second consecutive NCAA title while Kallenou set a school and Cyprus national record to win her second national indoor high jump championship in a row.
Orji, Porter and Gusin also scored to be First Team All-Americans. At the conference level, Kallenou matched her meet record to win the SEC high jump crown while Williams (pentathlon) and Orji (triple jump) also finished first at the league meet.
The Georgia men posted their top finish since 1995 with a 15th-place finish thanks to 12 points scored. Scantling set a school record and finished just two points behind the winner of the NCAA heptathlon title for second place. Devon Williams, who is the older brother of Kendell, also took fifth in the heptathlon to pace the Bulldogs’ scoring.
Scantling set a meet record to win his second SEC heptathlon title in 2015 as teammates Uibo and Williams finished second and third, respectively. Uibo, who had to pull out of the NCAA Championships with an injury, is the two-time defending NCAA decathlon champion and three-time defending SEC champion in the event outdoors.
Where To Find Results, News: Live stats and full results from the Blazer Invitational as well as the UAB Vulcan Invitational will be posted at georgiadogs.com.
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