T&F: Freshmen Lead Bulldogs in Torrin Lawrence Memorial

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T&F: Freshmen Lead Bulldogs in Torrin Lawrence Memorial

View the gallery HERE. Fullscreen slideshow is HERE.

A trio of Georgia freshmen highlighted the final day of third annual Torrin Lawrence Memorial with wins and personal bests in Athens on Saturday.

Titiana Marsh led the charge for the underclassmen by recording the sixth-best triple jump in the country this year.  Elija Godwin (400-meter dash) and Sakari Famous (high jump) also had collegiate personal records and were among a host of Bulldogs to have success at the Spec Towns Track.

Also on Saturday, the Bulldogs honored the late, great Georgia sprinter Torrin Lawrence and recognized the program’s 15 seniors.  Hailey Branch, Denzel Comenentia, Raytez Jenkins, Tyler Jones, Keenon Laine, Daniel Navarro, Michael Nicholls, Jonathan Pelham, Ryan Peppenhorst, Jon Raines, Kayla Smith, Austin Sprague, Grace Tavani, Mary Terry and Bailey Weiland were honored for their years with the Bulldogs.

Kayla Smith
Kayla Smith

“Another great day at the Spec Towns Track with some encouraging performances,” said head coach Petros Kyprianou.  “We had a number of freshmen step up this weekend, especially Titiana Marsh in the triple jump.  There were some surprise performances but a lot of performances that are what we expected and ones we hope to continue to improve.

“This was a great day with us getting to honor our seniors on both teams, watching Keturah Orji open with the second-longest triple jump in the world this year and most importantly, honoring and sharing the memory of Torrin Lawrence with his family and friends.  The weather cooperated perfectly and now we look forward to fine tuning everyone as the postseason nears.”

Freshman Titiana Marsh followed up an opening foul in the triple jump with a career best of 44 feet, 2 ¾ inches.  Then four tries later, Marsh topped out at 44-8.75 to be the top collegiate finisher and second overall behind Keturah Orji.  Marsh’s effort is No. 3 on the school’s all-time list and best for UGA since Orji set the school record of 48-3.25 at the 2016 Olympics.  Marsh is now ranked sixth nationally.

Orji’s winning mark of 48-1.25 is ranked second in the world this year and is the second best of her career.  The 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year was a seven-time national champion in the triple jump during her collegiate seasons of 2015-18.

Skyla Beal
Skyla Beal

Freshman Elija Godwin sped to his second career best in a row, this time in the 400m for a victory.  Godwin completed his lap in 45.92, which improved his No. 7 time in school history and put him 15thon the national list.

For the second consecutive week, junior Kayla Smith reached 14 feet in the pole vault for the Lady Bulldogs.  Smith won with a mark of 14-0 on a third attempt clearance.  Last weekend, Smith hit 14-1.75 at the Beach Invitational in California to move into the 13thspot nationally.

Senior Keenon Laine and junior Darius Carbin did their normal routine for the Bulldogs, clearing at least 7-1.50 and putting themselves in contention to win. This time around, Laine soared cleanly over at 7-2.50 on his second try to win and Carbin had a third attempt clearance at 7-1.50 for second place.

One week after posing top-five national marks in both the hammer throw (national leader) and the shot put, senior Denzel Comenentia situated himself into the nation’s top 15 in the discus to win.  His winning mark of 189 feet put himself 40 feet ahead of second-place finisher Devon Williams, a former Bulldog who is training for the decathlon.

Senior Hayden Merrick shot to No. 4 on UGA’s all-time list with a second discus try of 171-3.  This performance, which was the best for the Lady Bulldogs since 2012, earned her a second-place finish.

In the 100m hurdles, freshman Sterling Lester shaved nearly a tenth off of her personal best to be the second collegiate finisher (fourth overall). She ran a 13.32 with a 1.8 meter/second wind behind her.

Senior Michael Nicholls followed with a victory in the 110m hurdles thanks to a 13.88.

Freshman Sakari Famous had three clearances in the high jump before going over the bar at a personal record of 5-10 to win on her third and final try.

Petros Kyprianou
Petros Kyprianou

Chelsea Zoller, Micaiah Ransby, Katie Jackson and Makenzi Kopp registered a 4x400m relay time of 3:44.26 to finish first in what was the meet’s final event.

During the 1500m races, freshman Sam Bowers ran a 3:51.70 for third place while junior Ansley Heavern finished her race in 4:36.64 for fourth.

In addition, sophomore Skyla Beal hit her best effort on her third attempt in the shot put of 42-8 for runner-up honors.

The Bulldogs will train through next weekend before starting the postseason in Fayetteville, Ark., at the SEC Outdoor Championships on May 9-11.

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Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.