Georgia’s Kyle Garland earned his second consecutive heptathlon title and Julia Fixsen won her first pole vault crown while Matthew Boling shattered two school records to lead the way on day two of the Southeastern Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., on Friday.
Garland, a redshirt sophomore of Philadelphia, became the sixth SEC heptathlete (third from Georgia) since the event was started at the meet in 2004 to win back-to-back titles in the event with his personal best 6,012 points. The Bulldogs have now won the last nine SEC heptathlon titles in a row, featuring five different student-athletes with a streak that dates back to 2013. Garland’s score improves his No. 7 mark in the school record books and gives the Bulldogs seven 6,000-point scorers under head coach Petros Kyprianou.
Sophomore Anna Hall won the pentathlon on Thursday and now Georgia has championships in both the pentathlon and the heptathlon this year. The Bulldogs have swept the SEC indoor combined events four times in history (2021, 2015-17) and no other school has accomplished that feat. Brother and sister Devon and Kendell Williams won both events the last time in 2017 and went on to complete the “Sibling Sweep” at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships.
Seven years after All-American Morgann Leleux won Georgia’s last championship in the women’s pole vault, Fixsen, a sophomore from Shoreview, Minn., secured the Lady Bulldogs’ fifth title in the event with a season-best effort. The Georgia women finished 1-2 after senior Kayla Smith went over the bar at 14 feet or more for the fourth time in 2021.
Usually found on the track, sophomore Matthew Boling took a detour into the field events in his 2021 SEC meet debut and registered a school record. Starting with a foul in the long jump, Boling, a native of Houston, Texas, soared 26 feet, 5 ¾ inches on his second try to pass the former school record of 25-10.75 set by Pro Football Hall of Famer Champ Bailey in 1998. Boling finished fourth in the event after coming into the weekend ranked sixth in the conference.
Minutes later, Boling returned to his familiar ground on the track and crushed his own school record in the 200-meter dash to qualify for Saturday’s final. Boling’s world-leading time of 20.37 came within .03 of the meet record and .07 of the collegiate all-time performer’s top-10 list.
Hall, who hails from Greenwood, Co., posted four first attempt clearances in the high jump on Friday and then went over the bar at 6-1.25 on her second try. This showing put her in a tie for second place. Sophomore Shelby Tyler added three points with a sixth-place finish in the event.
A duo of Lady Bulldog long jumpers combined for 11 points with a third and fourth-place finish. Junior Titiana Marsh worked up to a personal-best mark on her fifth try for the bronze medal and sophomore Jasmine Moore popped an effort of 20-9.75 on her second attempt to take fourth.
The fourth-ranked Georgia women are leading with 49 points and the ninth-ranked Bulldog men are in sixth place with 17 points through the second of three days.
Georgia also had four qualifiers on the second day (junior Elija Godwin – men’s 400m, 46.03; Boling – men’s 200m, school record 20.37; junior Imani Carothers – women’s 60m hurdles, 8.18; junior Anna Marian Block – 800m – 2:06.00).
On Thursday, Hall won Georgia its sixth SEC pentathlon title in history to pace the women’s scoring. Junior Alencar Pereira made a late surge in the men’s weight throw with the longest toss of his UGA career to take seventh and score a pair of points for the Bulldog men.
Action begins on Saturday with sophomore Karel Tilga and freshman Gavin Beverage competing in the men’s shot put at 1:30 p.m. ET. On the women’s side, redshirt freshman Mia Anderson will battle in the shot put at 5:30 p.m. to start the day.
The SEC meet started with the Bulldogs featuring four heptathletes ranked in the nation’s top 12. Tilga is only competing in open events as he trains for the NCAA Indoor Championships in two weeks and senior Johannes Erm, who captured the 2018-19 SEC crowns, was injured on his second long jump on Friday and had to withdraw from the competition.
On Friday, redshirt sophomore Ziggy Zoller, who was fourth after five events, sustained a no height in the pole vault after securing five consecutive personal bests to start the heptathlon, leaving only Garland in scoring contention. Zoller started the weekend 10th on the national list and will still have a shot at advancing to Nationals.
On Friday, Garland was the third finisher in the 60m hurdles to start the day and kept his lead through five events. He ran an 8.12 to tally 952 points and had a 169-point edge headed into the pole vault. Zoller matched his personal best of 8.44 for 874 points and remained in fourth place.
Drilling his last personal record of 15-3 in the pole vault at the 2020 SEC meet, Garland bettered that on Friday. Passing up to 13-11.25, he eventually came through with a third attempt clearance at 15-7 for 834 points. This put him up 138 points with only the 1000m left. Following a string of personal bests, Zoller ran into a roadblock in the vault. He passed up until 13-3.50 and then missed at the height three times for no points, dropping him to 13th.
The Bulldog teammates paced each other to eighth and ninth-place finishes in the 1000m to assure Garland’s victory. Zoller returned to action and ran a 2:48.89 for his final 777 points. Despite not scoring in the vault, Zoller completed the meet in 13th with 4,804 points.
Garland was nearly two seconds behind Zoller with a 2:49.34 for his last 772 points. This performance helped keep him 114 points ahead of the nearest competitor and finish with a score that leads the NCAA (ninth in the world, top American).
Fixsen built from her runner-up finish in the vault in 2020 to win a year later. Roaring back with a third attempt clearance at 14-3.25, Fixsen was the only competitor to reach 14-5.25 successfully. With her performance, Fixsen moved into the country’s top four. Smith, who has also hit the 14-5.25 mark this season, posted four first-attempt clearances and finished in second with a mark of 14-3.25. This marked the third year in a row that Smith has finished in the top four at the meet.
Boling’s school record long jump mark of 26-5.75 would stand No. 3 on the national performance list coming into the weekend and overcame Bailey’s 21-year-old school record by more than six inches. Coming in with a Georgia personal best of 25-5.50, Boling took off for his record-setting mark on his second try and also had efforts of 26-0.25 and 26-0 in his series.
Hall, who bested Texas A&M’s Tyra Gittens in the pentathlon, met Gittens and the field in the high jump on day two. Hall matched her previous open high jump personal best of 6-1.25 and shared second place with LSU’s Abigail O’Donoghue. Gittens won with a mark of 6-2.25, which is what she and Hall registered in the pent.
Also of note, Tyler cleared 5-9.25 on her first try and completed the day in sixth place.
Marsh reached a career best in the long jump for the second meet in a row to break into the top three. She sailed 20-10.75 to finish one spot and one inch ahead of Moore. Both Georgia jumpers return to action in the triple jump on Saturday.
Georgia also had a quartet of qualifiers. Godwin became the first Bulldog to qualify for Saturday’s final in the 400m. The Covington, Ga., native won his heat and was fourth overall with a 46.03. Godwin will race in the 400m final at 3:20 p.m. on Saturday.
In just his sixth collegiate race at the distance, Boling clocked a blistering 20.37 to be the event’s fastest qualifier. This showing topped his 20.53 school record from this year’s Razorback Invitational on the same track and is not only the fastest NCAA time in 2021, but also the world’s fastest time so far. Boling will be aiming for an SEC title on Saturday at 3:50 p.m.
Carothers registered a time familiar to her in the 60m hurdles and qualified for the final. For the second time this year and fourth time in her career, Carothers ran a 8.18 to reach her third final in as many years with the sixth-best time of the semifinal. She will now line up in the 60m hurdle final on day three at 7:30 p.m.
Eighth in the mile final in 2020, Block ran the third fastest 800m time in school history (2:06.00) to have the second-best qualifying time in the semifinal. She will race in the final on Saturday at 7:40 p.m.