The University of Georgia track and field teams claimed the SEC Championships on both the men’s and women’s hammer throw in the opening day of the 2017 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Columbia, SC on Thursday. The Bulldogs also scored another duo and qualified a pair for event finals.
CLICK HERE for Thursday’s results of the 2017 SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The fourth-ranked Bulldog men have scored 16 points and are tied for second with Alabama (29) leading. The seventh-ranked Lady Bulldogs are also second with 13 points while Ole Miss (15) is in the lead.
Sophomore Denzel Comenentia won the Bulldogs’ their third conference crown in the hammer throw in the last four years and 13th in history with a career-long effort. The Amsterdam, Netherlands, native won the 2017 SEC indoor shot put title, was second at the NCAA Indoor Championships and will compete in the shot on South Carolina’s track on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
True freshman Beatrice Llano captured the Lady Bulldogs their 11th league hammer title since 2000 in just her third outdoor meet at UGA. The Bergen, Norway, native went 210 feet, 1 inch on her second attempt, a mark that would have won the competition, and then built to a toss of 215-0 on her fifth try . This won Georgia its first title in the event since Elizabeth Tepe went back to back in 2013-14.
Georgia also had two final qualifiers during the meet’s first day. Sophomore Jeramey Hampton (800-meter run) and sophomore Kendal Williams (200m) both qualified automatically in their respective events.
In the combined events, junior Karl Saluri scored a day one personal record of 4,223 points thanks in part to three career bests in his first five events of the decathlon. True freshman Louisa Grauvogel ended her opening day of the heptathlon with a personal record in the 200m and sits in fifth place through four events.
Saluri will start the second day of the decathlon with the 110m hurdles at 11 a.m. on Friday. Grauvogel will begin the fifth of seven events in the heptathlon (long jump) at 11:30 a.m.
The first open event of day two will be the men’s long jump at 2:30 p.m. and senior Devon Williams will be included in the field. The men’s 110m hurdles, also featuring Williams, are slated to begin the track events at 6:30 p.m.
“I was pleased with how we started the meet, especially by sweeping the hammer and keeping our tradition alive in that event,” said Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou. “Denzel and Beatrice answered the call with big marks and Sam Drop proved what kind of runner she is and will be by finishing with the sixth-best time in school history during her first 10K. Our multis also started out well and are now on pace to leave the track on Friday with scores that we need. Overall, I think this was a strong day for the Bulldogs.”
Comenentia had only a single fair throw (219-8) on his first three throws to advance to the finals. After improving to 221-10 on his fourth try, Comenentia unleashed the longest throw of his career (234-3) to improve his No. 5 spot on the national performance list and in the school record books.
“It feels great winning this title because I wasn’t expecting it,” said Comenentia. “To execute like I did late in the comp was an encouraging feeling. Alex (Poursanidis) and I are the first to score for the men so hopefully we boost everyone up with our performances today.”
Poursanidis, who secured the 2014 and 2015 SEC hammer titles and was second last year, jumped out to an immediate lead with a toss of 225 feet. He followed that up with two shorter throws and pair of fouls. In the final throw of his SEC career, Poursanidis posted a mark of 229 feet to move into second place. The Paphos, Cyprus, native was bumped to third on the last toss from LSU’s Johnnie Jackson (229-10) to end the competition.
Also of note, junior Alex Larsson left the Sheila and Morris Cregger Track with the second-best mark of his season at 204-8 to take 12th in the hammer.
Llano picked up her nearly six-foot victory with the third-best mark of her UGA career at 215-0. This performance put the Georgia women on the scoreboard and gave the nation’s fifth-ranked thrower yet another consistent showing.
“This is an amazing feeling and I think gives me more power and motivation heading into the NCAA Prelims and Nationals,” said Llano. “I am proud to score points for my team and I think it proves that being a freshman is not an excuse.”
True freshman Sam Drop capped the first day by finishing sixth in the 10,000m and adding three points to the Lady Bulldogs’ total. Drop hooked on to the lead pack and finished the race in 34:45.66 during her first race at the distance in the Red and Black. Her time ranks sixth in school history and the best since 2014 for UGA.
Georgia also featured two qualifiers in the track prelims on Thursday. Sophomore Jeramey Hampton automatically qualified for the 800m finals by taking control of the second heat and finishing 10th overall. The Suwanee, Ga., native took the initial lead and stayed there until the final straightaway, clinching his spot with a second-place finish (1:51.62). Hampton ran a 1:49.79 to take 13th overall in the 2016 prelims during a much faster race.
Sophomore Kendal Williams cruised to a victory in the fourth heat of the 200m to automatically qualify for the final. Williams, who has a 20.14 on his resume this year, crossed the finish line in 20.35 with a 3.0 wind reading.
Competing in his first decathlon of the year, Saluri opened his 10 events by winning the 100m with a personal record of 10.50, topping his 10.52 from last year’s NCAAs. This finish earned him 975 points over Victor (942).
Saluri’s second career best of the day came during his win in the long jump. Opening with a foul, Saluri reached 24-5 on his second try to score 920 points and hold his overall lead over Victor.
Saluri added 738 points to his total in the shot put despite recording only a single fair mark. He launched an effort of 46-5.25 on his opening attempt to take fourth in the competition and slide into second place overall with 2,633 points to Victor (2,641).
Posting a total of three clearances, Saluri reached 6-0.50 on his second try to score 661 points in the high jump. This was his first time competing in the event outdoors this year after maxing out at 6-1.25 indoors in 2017.
Saluri ended his first day just as he started it: with a personal record. The Kuimetsa, Estonia, native blazed to the fastest time of his career in the 400m (47.59) to tally his final 929 points of the day. This finish helped give Saluri a seven-point day one personal best score going into Friday.
Grauvogel started her heptathlon by running the second-fastest time of her UGA record of 13.55 to finish fourth in the 100m hurdles. She earned 1,043 points for her finish after clocking a personal record of 13.50 last week in Athens.
A first attempt clearance of 5-2.50 in the high jump earned the Saarland, Germany, native another 724 points. She returned in the shot put and opened with her longest throw of the competition (40-4) to finish third for 680 points.
Grauvogel concluded the first day of the heptathlon with a personal best in the 200m to take fourth. She sped to a 24.11 to help position herself in fifth heading into the final three events on Friday.
During one of the final events of the day, junior Jon Moses started with the lead back and stayed within striking distance of the scoring eight to finish 10th in the 10,000m. Taking 16th in 2016, Moses finished his 25 laps in 31:34.12.
In the women’s 800m prelims, true freshman Amber Tanner trimmed nearly two seconds off her personal record with a 2:09.18 to take sixth in her heat and xx overall.
Junior Gabe Blackman locked down his fourth straight UGA personal best in the 200m with a 21.12 and finished 15th overall.
The SEC Championships will air as part of a two-hour ESPNU show on Wednesday, May 17, from 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET. The broadcast talent includes Dwight Stones (play-by-play), Larry Rawson and Jill Montgomery (analysts) and John Anderson (sideline reporter).
SEC Network+ info:
Friday, May 12 (6:25 p.m. ET); LINK: http://es.pn/2pE8amy
Saturday, May 13 (3:10 p.m.); LINK: CLICK HEREhttp://es.pn/2oWXPBk
To check on live results for Georgia’s competing men and women at the SEC Championships, please visit the live results link at: http://gado.gs/7gy