Georgia’s track and field teams posted a flurry of promising performances to open the indoor season at the Auburn Invitational in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday.
[break] This marks the first of four weekends of regular season meets before the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships arrive in Lexington, Ky., on February 27-28.
[break] “This meet probably didn’t go as good as I would have hoped, but with the weather we have had since the semester started, I probably shouldn’t have expected as much,” said Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton. “We did not have the sharpness we needed in most events. But the good news is, we may get a lot better in just one week or so. This first meet was really just to get the dust off. The competition was good and will be better next week. The best part of this meet is that not a lot of bad happened and our crew will keep getting better.”
[break] True freshman Keturah Orji made her much-awaited debut for the Lady Bulldogs and did not disappoint. Orji traveled 20 feet, 10 ¾ inches on her sixth long jump attempt to win the competition and take over the current national lead. She also had marks of 20-10 and 20-10.50 in her series.
[break] “Keturah had to be our biggest highlight and that was great to see,” Norton said.
[break] On the track, sophomore Kendell Williams shot to fifth on this year’s national performance list after winning the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.25 in the finals. Williams, who was the 2014 NCAA champion in the pentathlon indoors and heptathlon outdoors, also took third in the high jump on Saturday after a 5-10.75 clearance.
[break] Williams’ training partner in the multis, senior Quintunya Chapman, tallied two career-best efforts. Chapman soared 19-7.50 for third-place honors in the long jump and ran the seventh-best time in UGA history in the 60 hurdles (8.48) during the prelims before taking eighth in the finals.
[break] Another pair of Georgia women tied for the victory in the high jump. Sophomore Tatiana Gusin had three first attempt clearances to reach an indoor personal-best height of 5-10.75 while sophomore Leontia Kallenou, who captured last year’s NCAA indoor and outdoor titles, cleared the same height to share the top honors.
[break] Another victory for the Lady Bulldogs came from senior Morgann Leleux in the pole vault. Leleux went over the bar at 13-1.50 on her first try after winning the SEC indoor crown last year. Leleux was second at the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships and tied for fifth nationally at last year’s NCAAs.
[break] A trio of Bulldog heptathletes also jumpstarted their season in the 60 hurdles and the pole vault. Sophomore Devon Williams improved his own fifth-best time in school history (7.98) and finished fifth in the 60 hurdle finals. Williams, who redshirted last year, also reached personal bests in the pole vault (15-1) and shot put (44-3.25).
[break] Junior Maicel Uibo was competing in his first collegiate meet since winning an NCAA outdoor championship in the decathlon and immediately made progress indoors. He matched his personal best in the pole vault at 16-6.75 for third place and ran the fastest time in the open 60 hurdles (8.45) of his career.
[break] Williams and Uibo also train with junior Garrett Scantling, who redshirted last year’s indoor season, and Scantling crossed the 60 hurdles finish line with the sixth-best time in school history at 8.00 for fourth place in this race.
[break] Sophomore Sid Vaughn returned to action after sitting out the cross country season to win the 3000 with the 10th-best time in school history. Vaughn clocked an 8:17.97 to help pace Georgia’s distance corps.
[break] In addition, sophomore Victoria Coppage took third in the women’s 3000 (9:54.05).
[break] Charles Grethen, Bryan Kamau, Kisean Smith and Christian Harrison, who are middle-distance runners, trained with a 4×400 relay and finished second after running a 3:11.95.