Current, future and former members of Georgia’s track and field teams posted a series of exceptional performances at the USATF Championships and USATF Junior Championships over the weekend.
Kendell Williams (heptathlon) and Keturah Orji (triple jump) won their events at the USATF Championships while Sam Drop (5000 meters) and Bulldog signee Tara Davis (long jump, 100m hurdles) also finished first in their events at the USATF Juniors, which features competitors who turn 20 in 2018 or after.
In addition, Devon Williams (decathlon), who is Kendell’s older brother, finished third and qualified for the IAAF World Championships in London on August 4-13 along with his sister and Orji. The Williams siblings become the first brother-sister duo on Team USATF for the World Championships since Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Al Joyner in 1987.
Drop, a rising sophomore for Georgia, and Davis, who will begin at UGA in the fall after competing for Agoura (Ca.) High School and Plyometric Fusion Club, will travel to Lima, Peru, for the Pan American Junior Championships on July 21-23.
Kendell Williams, a Marietta, Ga., native, passed her own school record in the heptathlon during one of her final times wearing the Red and Black. Topping her 6,402 from the qualifying performance at the 2016 Olympic Trials, Williams scored 6,564 points to fend off former Mississippi State foe Erica Bougard (a personal best 6,557) for the title. The pair moved to fifth and sixth on the USATF all-time list and became the first USATF heptathletes in history to score over 6,500 points in the same competition. Williams now has top two of the top three heptathlon scores for a collegian tallied outside a collegiate season in history, including her score from the Trials last year.
Williams started her seven events by surpassing her own record in the 100m hurdles for a win. She clocked a 12.82 (former record was 12.83, also a collegiate all-time best, set at the 2016 NCAA meet) for her first 1,152 points. With Bougard winning the high jump at a career-best height of 6 feet, 3 ½ inches, Williams cleared 6-0 for second and 1,016 points.
In the shot put, Williams launched a personal best of 42-8.25 for 728 more points. To complete her second day, Williams sped to a career-best 200m time of 23.50 for 1,029 points, finishing just behind Bougard (23.40) for second.
Opening with a 21-foot mark in the long jump, Williams cranked up her second day with a second effort of 21-3.50, which was also a personal best. This finish earned her 1,004 points to Bougard’s 962 for her long jump mark of 20-10.50.
Williams went 147-6 on her third and final attempt in the javelin for 763 points. She then returned in the 800m and managed to stay within five seconds of Bougard to clinch the victory. Williams’ season-best time of 2:16.46 added her final 872 to her total.
Just as she did at the 2016 Olympic Trials to qualify for the Rio Games, Orji cruised to the US triple jump title, this time by a foot and a half. Opening with a foul, she responded with a second attempt of 46-9.50 to put the championship away. Orji also featured marks of 45-9 and 45-6.25 in her series that would have clinched her victory as well. She was fourth at the Olympics last summer as well as at the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships.
Devon Williams, who recently completed his fifth year in the Bulldogs’ program, earned his spot on Team USA by scoring the third-highest total of his career (8,131) in the decathlon. He completed his collegiate career in June by taking second at the NCAA Championships after ten events with 8,181 points.
Williams shot out of the starting blocks in the 100m to win his competition’s first event with a career-best 10.50 for 975 points. Finishing within an inch of where he landed all year long, Williams then won the long jump with a mark of 25-4.75 for another 995 points.
The Bulldog senior unloaded a career-long toss of 46-11 in the shot put to take third for 747 points. Williams added 731 points to his total in the high jump after going over the bar at 6-3.50 on his second try.
Williams concluded his first day by finishing fourth in the 400m with a time of 48.75, which earned him 873 points. He started day two with the third-fastest 110m hurdle time of his career with a 13.61 to win for 1,025 points.
In the discus, Williams sent his third try 149-8 for 780 points. Williams then posted a third-place finish in the pole vault with a personal-best clearance of 15-9 for 849 points.
Williams wrapped up his ten events with a 172-5 in the javelin for 627 points and a 5:05.44 in the 1500m for 529 points.
Sam Drop, a native of Durham, Conn., qualified for the Pan Am Juniors after winning the 5000m thanks to a time of 16:56.91. Her twin sister, Jessica Drop, was fourth in the Juniors 1500m after she completed her laps in 4:24.38.
Davis, who will be joining the Bulldogs in the fall, had an equally impressive showing in Sacramento with wins in both the long jump and 100m hurdles at Juniors and a fifth-place finish at the regular USATF Championships.
At Juniors, Davis took off for an opening attempt of 21-9 in the long jump, passed on her final five tries and still won by more than a foot and three inches. After running a 12.95 in the first round of the hurdles, she blazed to a 13.01 to win the finals. In addition, Davis competed in the USATF Championships and was fifth in the long jump with a mark of 21-9.50 on her first try.
Also at the Juniors meet, Bulldog rising sophomore Tairyn Montgomery finished fifth in the javelin after her top throw measured 142-1.
Two former Georgia competitors and one volunteer assistant also battled at the USATF Championships over the weekend. Morgann Leleux tied for third in the pole vault with a mark of 14-11 and then slipped out of qualifying for London after losing a jump-off to South Dakota’s Emily Grove.
Former Bulldog Kibwe Johnson also finished sixth in the hammer at 229-11 and Laura Roesler, an NCAA champion for Oregon and current volunteer assistant at UGA, finished seventh in the 800m finals with a 2:01.10.
Another update will be available closer to the World Championships as the final list for entries is completed.