The Bulldogs left the E.B. Cushing Stadium with two UGA records and captured the decathlon title on the second day of the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships in College Station, Texas, Friday.
The Lady Bulldogs have now scored 35 points for fourth place while Arkansas (51), Alabama (47) and Auburn (36) make up the top three. The Georgia men are in seventh (19) and Arkansas (58), Alabama (51) and Tennessee (41) are in the top three.
Senior Kayla Smith, a native of Indianapolis, Ind., posted three second-attempt clearances in the pole vault, including a school record mark of 14 feet, 8 ¾ inches, to take fourth at either an SEC indoor or outdoor meet for the fourth time in her career. Friday’s pole vault showdown proved to be the most competitive in league history.
Sophomore Jasmine Moore, who has a showdown in her featured event of the triple jump on Saturday, started her meet by taking third in the long jump with the second-best mark of her career.
Competing in his first and last SEC meet, graduate transfer Jonathan Tharaldsen had his longest throw of 61-10.25 on his fifth of six throws to take fifth in the shot put.
As usual, the Bulldogs also had tremendous success in the multi-events. Redshirt sophomore Kyle Garland completed the 2021 conference heptathlon-decathlon sweep after scoring 8,196 points to win the 10-event decathlon. Garland is now No. 2 on the 2021 NCAA list, No. 6 on this year’s worldwide list and No. 6 on the school’s all-time list. He is only the fifth competitor in SEC history to complete the combined event sweep in an academic year with the last one being former Bulldog Maicel Uibo in 2014.
The Lady Bulldogs managed a 2-3 finish in the heptathlon as Texas A&M’s Tyra Gittens became the sport’s third-best performer in history with 6,418 points on her home track. Sophomore Anna Hall, who is ranked No. 2 on the national list behind Gittens, scored 6,117 points thanks to four multi-event personal bests. Graduate transfer Asya Reynolds moved to No. 6 in the Bulldog record books and fourth on the national list after tallying 5,922 points in her first full heptathlon for UGA.
Junior Elija Godwin started the Bulldog qualifying on Friday by setting a school record in the 400m with a 45.21. There ended up being two more qualifiers as sophomore Matthew Boling and freshman Arian Smith both punched their tickets in the 100m.
When Do The Bulldogs Start Day 3: Labo Oke will be in the men’s triple jump field while decathlete Karel Tilga will compete in his third open event of the meet, this time in the men’s discus, at 3:30 p.m. ET. Moore and junior Titiana Marsh will return to action in the women’s triple jump on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. The first event on the track for the Bulldogs will be the men’s 4x100m relay featuring Smith, Godwin, junior Delano Dunkley and Boling.
Saturday’s action will be televised on the SEC Network from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Here is the link for Saturday’s action:
Live Results: For live results of the SEC Championships, please visit: http://gado.gs/6zf
Kyprianou’s Comments: “Today was a great day for the elite Dawgs, the usual suspects and the nice surprises!” said Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou. “Obviously Kyle stole the show with a massive score in the decathlon, his first SEC decathlon title and letting the world know that he is a major player for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. With already three Dawgs punching their ticket to Tokyo from Estonia, Kyle is a contender and we hope he joins his U.S. training partners, Garrett (Scantling) and Devon (Williams), in a dream team of having six Dawgs compete in the decathlon in Tokyo.
“Additionally, Anna took care of business in the heptathlon with a silver medal and a promising Olympic team chance. The big surprises that brought a lot of smiles to our team was Asya Reynolds in the heptathlon with a big-time NCAA score and an Olympic Trials qualifier. It was also a nice showing in the long jump by our star jumper, Jasmine Moore, and a second-furthest jump of her life in a deep field. I am very proud of all of our runners that made Saturday finals and set personal bests! Last, but definitely not least, Kayla reset her own school record and showed that she’s prime for major success at Nationals. Looking forward to some fast times and far jumps Saturday. Go Dawgs!”
The Lowdown: Smith complemented her runner-up finish at the 2021 SEC Indoor Championships with yet another top-five league finish at her final conference outdoor meet. After leaving her home track in Athens for the final team with a school record of 14-8.25 earlier this month, Smith bettered that record by clearing 14-8.75 on her second try Friday. This keeps her in the country’s top three headed into the NCAA Prelims in two weeks.
Moore, a native of Grand Prairie, Texas, competing in her home state, started her six attempts in the long jump with her best mark of 21-9.50, which ended up clinching her bronze medal honors. This marked only her second time long jumping for the Lady Bulldogs after setting a school record (22-5) earlier this season.
Tharaldsen, who has earned another shot of competing later in the month at the NCAA Prelims, had three throws between 61 and 62 feet and a trio of fouls and held on for the fifth spot in the shot put.
The three Bulldog qualifiers were highlighted by Godwin’s school record in the 400m. After coming within .01 of Gary Duncan’s 45.33 record from 1987 last time out, Godwin left no doubt on Friday after scorching a 45.21 to be the second-fastest qualifier. He manages the country’s 11th-best finish this season during the prelims.
Boling ran his third collegiate 100m and matched his top UGA time with a 10.21 (No. 7 in school history) to be the top finisher in his heat and second overall. Smith, who was racing in his first collegiate race after competing for the Bulldog football team through spring practice, was fourth in his heat and grabbed the ninth and final spot after crossing the line in 10.40.
In the multis, Garland became the first Bulldog to win the SEC decathlon title since Karl Saluri in 2018 and the sixth UGA decathlete overall. He ran the fastest 110m hurdle time to start day two in the decathlon and score 927 points. He sped to a 14.37 and managed to distance himself even more through six events scored.
The Philadelphia native put his top discus mark between his first and third attempts to also win the seventh event. Garland hit 145-7 for 754 points as his overall lead ballooned to more than 500 points. In his first outdoor pole vault competition, Garland made five first-attempt clearances and topped out at 15-5 for 819 points with the javelin up next.
Garland came out of the gate with a mark of 181-7 in the javelin to take second in the event and boost his total by 668 points. This set him up with more than a 400-point gap as the decathletes headed into the 1500m. With the winner finishing in 4:29.80, Garland stayed in a single file line behind the top three finishers and registered a 4:44.74 to put his final 651 points in the bank.
Zoller started his second day by registering a 15.68 in the 110m hurdles for 769 points as he stayed within striking distance of the scoring top eight. Starting with a foul, Zoller sent his second try in the discus a personal best 112-8 to add 550 points to his total. However, Zoller aggravated a leg injury and was forced to pull out of the competition with three events to go.
Hall began her second day of the heptathlon in second place overall behind Gittens before taking 10th in the long jump with a mark of 18-10.50. This scored her 774 points and she worked to stay in position to make up ground in both the javelin and 800m.
Hall secured a personal best on her first effort in the javelin and then followed that up with another pair. She finished at 134-6 to win the event and tally 687 and slightly close the gap on the leader. Hall won her second consecutive event in the hep’s finale after completing two laps in 2:12.27 for her final 932 points.
Reynolds, who finished her undergraduate career at Michigan State, soared a career-best distance of 20-9.75 to take second in the long jump and earn 956 points. After she recorded the mark on her opening attempt, Reynolds passed on her final two tries to get ready for the javelin.
Reynolds sandwiched a career-long toss of 120-5 in the javelin and scored 604 points. This positioned her for a top-five overall finish as the hep’s conclusion, the 800m, was next on the schedule. Reynolds completed her first full heptathlon with the Lady Bulldogs by taking third in the 800m (2:19.48) to score 831 points.
Also of note on Friday, decathlete Karel Tilga continued his training by running in the 110m hurdles. He trimmed .03 off of his time at the Spec Towns Invitational decathlon with a 15.13 for 15th place.
On the women’s side, junior Imani Carothers was 14th in the 100m hurdle prelims with a career-best time of 13.14. This is the sixth-best time in UGA history.
In addition, Destiny Jackson ran the fastest time of her career (11.93) to take 16th in the 100m prelims.