The Bulldog track and field teams left three meets over the weekend with school record in the 4×400-meter relay and a flurry of performances that are expected to qualify them for the coming NCAA Indoor Championships.
Georgia competed at the Tiger Paw Invitational, the USC Indoor Open (Columbia, S.C.) and the Music City Challenge (Nashville, Tenn.) to wrap up the regular season and in anticipation for the coming Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships.
Sophomore Matthew Boling, sophomore Caleb Cavanaugh, senior Delano Dunkley and junior Elija Godwin shaved half a second off of the school record in the relay to put themselves in the top five nationally to highlight Saturday’s action.
Kyprianou’s Comments: “I am very proud of our teams this weekend as we once again proved that we are a very resilient team chasing greatness at every area and in every group,” said head coach Petros Kyprianou. “Our student-athletes are hungry for NCAA success and they have answered my call for finding ways to get qualifying marks. I am very excited for the future of this team and I know there is a lot more in the tank going into postseason. The fact that we have found new faces who have stepped up and either placed themselves in position to qualify or score at the NCAA Championships is very refreshing and encouraging. We are showing leadership and strong continuity of the firm foundation that we laid out as a staff six years ago.
“We chose to split in three ways to compete and find a way to qualify. In all three places, we had a plethora of personal bests and NCAA top-10 marks. A quick highlight to mention is obviously the 4x400m relay school record, (Matt) Boling’s long jump breakthrough, Julia (Fixsen) and Kayla (Smith) in the pole vault, Anna Marian (Block) and Clay (Pender) in the 800’s, Titiana Marsh adding a second event to her NCAA slate and so many more! As I told the staff today, we have found a way to qualify the ‘usual suspects’ plus a great deal of new suspects!
“Planning the right competitions and making adjustments is what our staff has been known for and I am proud of how well our teams carry our philosophy and remain focused going in to a postseason, which is my personal favorite time of the year. I know our student-athletes are ultra excited to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Go Dawgs!”
Meet Results: Meet results for the USC Indoor Open and Tiger Paw Invitational are attached.
For results to the Music City Challenge, please visit: https://gado.gs/63t
The Lowdown: In the finale at the Tiger Paw Invitational, the Bulldog foursome of Boling, Cavanaugh, Dunkley and Godwin surpassed a nine-year-old school record in the 4x400m relay to take third. Their time of 3:06.40 ranks fifth nationally and passed the former school record of 3:06.97. Boling’s lead leg of 45.7 complemented Godwin’s closing leg of 44.9.
Boling now has top-10 national times/marks in the 60m, 200m, 400m, long jump and the relay.
Cavanaugh started his day at the meet in the 800m with a significant personal best. He ran a career best 1:51.78 to take 10th.
A pair of Lady Bulldog pole vaulters hit 14-foot-plus clearances at the USC Indoor Open to move to fourth and sixth on the country’s descending order list. Senior Kayla Smith soared over the bar at a personal record height of 14 feet, 5 ¼ inches on her first try to win the meet, improve her No. 4 spot in the school record books and move to No. 4 on the current national list. Sophomore Julia Fixsen reached 14 feet for the first time in 2021 with a mark of 14-2.75 and rocketed to sixth on the national list.
Junior Titiana Marsh worked up to a fifth try of 20-10 in the long jump at the same meet to top teammate and second-place finisher Imani Carothers, who had a personal record of 19-6.25. Marsh’s mark shoots her to No. 11 on the national list.
Junior Anna Marian Block bounced back from her personal best in the mile at the Music City Challenge on Friday to win the 800m with yet another of her fastest times of her career. She registered a 2:06.46 to win by nearly a second and take over the No. 17 spot on the national list. Block also took over the No. 5 spot on the school’s all-time top-10 list.
On the men’s side, redshirt sophomore Clay Pender left the Nashville track with the school’s ninth-best time in history to take fifth in the 800m. Pender completed his laps in 1:50.09.
Another victory at the USC Indoor Open came from junior transfer Alencar Pereira in just his second meet as a Bulldog. Pereira improved on his fifth toss in the weight throw and then went 67-8.75 on the final throw of his series to clinch the win.
Freshman Gavin Beverage continued to knock down his season bests with a shot put toss of 59-9.50 on his fourth attempt. He clinched the win at the USC Indoor Open and inched closer to the school’s all-time top-10 list.
Sophomore Shelby Tyler won her second meet of the year and locked down her fourth top-two performance with a 5-9.25 to win the high jump at the USC Indoor Open.
In the triple jump at the USC Indoor Open, junior Labo Oke overcame three fouls, including a pair to start the competition, and went a career-long distance of 49-11.75 on his final attempt to take second.
In the 800m at the USC Indoor Open, senior Halle McClintock battled for a 2:11.41 and grabbed top honors in the event.
Teammates Grace Clements (9:53.57) and Sara Bailey (9:56.26) ran the fastest times of their careers in the 3000m at the USC Indoor Open and went 1-2.
A true freshman in Zachary Roe also grabbed first-place honors in the USC Indoor Open 5000m after recording a 14:51.73.
Senior Samantha Drop finished up the Music City meet by winning her group in the 3000m with a 9:36.06. Drop was 11th overall in her final preparation before SECs.
Senior Destiny Jackson continued the onslaught on her career bests with a 7.54 for third in the 60m final at the USC Indoor Open. During the prelims, Jackson posted her first personal best of 7.59.
Jackson returned in the 200m and earned silver medal honors. She tied the 10th-best time in school history with a 24.00 in the USC Indoor Open.
Senior Chelsea Zoller also ran a career-best time of 56.13 for fourth place in the 400m at the same meet.
Also at the USC Indoor Open, redshirt freshman Mia Anderson let go of a personal-best shot put toss of 44-10.75 on her fifth attempt to take fourth.
Where Does The Indoor Season Take The Dogs Now: The postseason begins next with the SEC Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., on Feb. 25-27. Georgia will return to Arkansas on March 12-13 for NCAAs.