On an opening day that came within minutes of lasting 14 hours, both the Georgia men and women had two hammer throwers score at the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Thursday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Senior Shelby Ashe and junior Asianna Covington put the UGA women on the scoreboard with a second- and a fifth-place finish in the hammer, respectively, at the Sam Bailey Track Stadium. The Lady Bulldogs are in the team lead with 12 points headed into the second day.
Following two weather delays and a power outage that suspended the meet, junior Alex Poursanidis and freshman Denzel Comenentia were also second and fifth, in that order, for the Bulldog men in the hammer. Georgia is in third place with 12 points.
In addition, senior Christian Harrison qualified for the men’s 800-meter final while senior Maicel Uibo and junior Devon Williams positioned themselves in a favorable spot going into the second day of the decathlon.
“I am proud of our teams’ efforts today,” said Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou. “It was nice to see new scorers, especially when they are in the top three. I was pleased with how Shelby and Asianna battled in the hammer as well as the performances from Alex and Denzel as they overcame long weather delays. The highlight for me since it had been a while since we had a finals qualifier in the track events was Christian Harrison making the next round of the 800. I am looking forward to seeing our decathletes finish our signature event in a positive fashion and the rest of our team have success in their events.”
Uibo, who entered the meet as the three-time defending decathlon champion and in pursuit of a conference record fourth championship, is in second place in the combined events by 113 points through five of 10 events with 4,196 points.
His junior training partner, Devon Williams, is just nine points behind at 4,187 thanks to four personal records. Williams’ previous day one personal best was 4,087 points at the Bulldog Decathlon a month ago en route to a career high tally of 7,928.
Also of note, the Bulldogs’ third decathlete, sophomore Karl Saluri, currently leads the nation in the decathlon but will only compete in the open long jump and 400-meter dash at this meet.
Ashe reached 204-5 on her second try in the hammer to move into the second scoring spot, and then came within 10 inches of the eventual winner on her sixth and final toss. Fouling out at last year’s SECs, Ashe launched the third-longest mark of her season at 209-3 to earn silver medal honors.
The Lady Bulldogs added four more points in the hammer with Covington taking fifth. The Vancouver native improved on her second through fifth throws, capping off at 192-8. This matched her performance at the Virginia Challenge late in the regular season.
In addition, freshman Hayden Merrick worked up to a personal-best mark of 170-7 to finish 13th in the hammer.
On the men’s side, Poursanidis took a brief lead following his third throw of 225-4 and then finished the competition in second with that same mark. He won SEC titles both of his first two seasons and has advanced to the last to NCAA Outdoor Championships, earning a First Team All-America certificate in 2014.
Comenentia started his series with a 223-11 mark and rode that effort to a fifth-place finish in the hammer. The Amsterdam native who arrived in the country in January will also throw in the shot put and discus this weekend.
During the decathlon, Uibo started the 100m by finishing fourth in his heat and ninth overall with an 11.13. This gave the Polva, Estonia, native 832 points to start the competition.
Uibo worked up to a season-best second long jump of 24-1.75 to finish third in the event. With the 900 points he scored, Uibo inched from ninth to sixth in the overall stands.
During the third event, Uibo vaulted another three spots up in the overall standings to third with a career-best toss in the shot put. Uibo improved on his second and third throws, capping with a mark of 49-1.75 for second place and 788 points.
Uibo was one of three competitors to clear 6-11 to share the event win in the high jump and score 906 points. This finish surged him into the overall lead going into the fifth and final event of the day.
Third in his heat and 10th overall in the 400m (50.97), Uibo finished his day with 770 points. He went backwards one spot in the standings and finished second overall with five events remaining.
Williams shot out of the 100m blocks with a personal best to take an early lead. He clocked a 10.70 for 929 points to top the field. Williams’ previous personal best of 10.80 came as he won the event at the 2013 Bulldog Decathlon as a true freshman.
With a second-place finish in the decathlon’s second event, Williams kept his lead by adding another 908 points. Williams responded to a run-through on his first attempt with a third long jump effort of 24-3, which is his best at an SEC meet and second best of his career.
Williams jumped more than two feet past his personal record in the pole vault and finished the decathlon’s third event in second place. He watched his second throw travel 45-9.25, which is nearly 10 feet farther than Williams’ shot put effort at his last SECs.
Posting his third personal record of the day, Williams went over the bar at 6-4 on his first attempt and finished sixth in the event for 740 points. This finish slipped Williams to fourth place as the Marietta, Ga., native readied for the 400m.
Only Texas A&M’s Lindon Victor (4,309), who has a 113-point edge over Uibo right now, was able to top Williams in the 400m. Williams ran a career-best time of 48.51 for 885 points and completed his day in third place.
Hanging in the top three for his entire race, Christian Harrison surged into the automatic qualifying spot of second place in his heat of the 800m with a time of 1:47.86. He was 12th in the prelims last year at his first SEC outdoor meet.
Harrison will race in the 800m finals at 5:40 p.m.
Also of note, freshman Jeramey Hampton made his debut at the conference’s outdoor meet and was 13th with the fastest 800m finish of his career (1:49.76).
Sophomore Devon Artis improved her No. 8 spot in the school record books, but missed the women’s 800m finals by two spots. Artis ran a 2:07.66 after wrapping up the regular season with a 2:07.70 and was fourth in her heat and 11th overall.
The second day of the meet begins on Friday with the sixth of the decathlon’s 10 events (110m hurdles) at 1 p.m. ET. Junior Kendell Williams, who is Devon’s younger sister, starts the open events in the 100m hurdle prelim at 7:30 p.m.
Updates from Georgia’s track and field and cross country teams can always be found on Twitter/Instagram (UGATrack) and Snapchat (ugatrack).
Name Event Mark (Place)
Shelby Ashe W. Hammer 209-3 (2nd)
Alex Poursanidis M. Hammer 225-4 (2nd)
Asianna Covington W. Hammer 192-8 (5th)
Denzel Comenentia M. Hammer 223-11 (5th)
Name Event Mark (Place)
Christian Harrison M. 800m 7th (1:47.86)
Decathlon 100m LJ SP HJ 400m Day 1
Maicel Uibo 11.13 (832) ^24-1.75 (900) *49-1.75 (788) 6-11 (906) 50.97 (770) 4,196
Devon Williams *10.70 (929) 24-3 (908) *45-9.25 (725) *6-4 (740) *48.51 (885) *4,187
*personal-best mark; ^season-best mark