A trio of current or former Georgia team members clinched a spot on Team USA for the Olympic Games during the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., on Sunday.
Former Bulldog standout Keturah Orji set a meet record in the triple jump to win the U.S. title while current sophomore Jasmine Moore cruised into third place to qualify for her first Olympics after a sensational collegiate season. Former Georgia champion Garrett Scantling exploded for a career-high 8,647 points to win the American championship and earn his first trip to the Games after finishing one spot out of qualifying in 2016.
During Saturday’s action, sophomore Matthew Boling advanced to the 100m semifinal while junior Elija Godwin and former standout Lynna Irby made it to their respective 400m finals. Scantling was leading the decathlon and sophomore Kyle Garland was in second following the first day’s five events of the decathlon.
On Friday, sophomore Anna Hall (women’s high jump) and Moore, junior Titiana Marsh and Orji (women’s triple jump) advanced to the final round of their events.
Eleven current Bulldogs and eight former Georgia standouts will compete in their home country’s Trials on June 18-27. The top three finishers in each event at the Trials will advance to the Olympic Games in Tokyo on July 23-August 8, barring they have the standard mark/time necessary in their event.
Orji, who was fourth at the 2016 Olympics, set the tone with her first triple jump mark of 47 feet, 3 inches, which would have won the meet by an inch and a half. The collegiate record holder and eight-time NCAA champion then took off for a meet record effort of 47-7.75 to become the first back-to-back winner of the women’s triple jump in the history of the U.S. Trials.
Similar to her Bulldog predecessor, Moore, a native of Grand Prairie, Texas, showed her strength early and went 46-0.75 on her opening try, which would have also clinched her third place. The 2021 NCAA outdoor runner-up then improved to 46-5.25 to lock down her spot on Team USA by more than a foot. Moore had already recorded an Olympic Standard mark of 47-2.50 to win the SEC title earlier this year.
Also in the triple, junior Titiana Marsh surged into the final eight in the triple to earn three more jumps with her second try of 44-0.50 and ended the final in eighth place with that same mark.
Scantling, a Jacksonville, Fla., native, had three more personal records to give him four in his 10 events to edge the nearest competitor by 162 points. After finishing in fourth place and one spot out of the key top three spots in 2016, Scantling temporarily quit the sport before having stints in the Atlanta Falcons training camp and working as a financial advisor. He then rejoined his collegiate coach Petros Kyprianou in Athens in 2019 to start his comeback.
Current sophomore Kyle Garland registered four personal bests of the two-day competition and took sixth after scoring 8,140 points during his first career Trials. Garland was this year’s SEC decathlon champion while his Estonian teammate Karel Tilga won the NCAA crown and is expected to represent his home country at the Games.
Scantling won the opening event of the decathlon’s day two, the 110m hurdles, with a personal record. He registered a 13.88 to be the only hurdler to break 14 seconds. He followed that up by sending his third try in the discus at career-best distance of 158 feet to earn runner-up honors. Scantling kept his record-breaking day going in the pole vault with a third attempt clearance at 16-10.75 to take fourth. He earned top honors in the javelin as well thanks to a third toss that measured 210-8. Scantling and Garland stayed together during the 1500m as Scantling crossed the line in 4:57.75 for 12th place to clinch his championship and berth.
Garland started his day with a seventh-place finish in the 110m hurdles after crossing the finish line in 14.54. He then took fifth in the discus with an opening toss of 144-3. Garland reached 15-3 on his second try in the pole vault to be eighth in the event. He then snuck the longest javelin toss of his career (184-4) between two fouls to take ninth. Garland helped pace Scantling in the 1500m and edged him by a second for 11th place with a 4:56.72.
Sophomore Anna Hall, who also competes in the heptathlon later in the week, cleared 5-9.75 on her first try in the high jump but was unable to clear the next height. She finished 11th and will now await the start of the heptathlon’s opening day on Saturday.
Boling completed his first event of the Trials by taking 14th in the 100m semifinal with a 10.22. He will start back at the meet in the first round of the 200m on Friday.
Irby completed the women’s 400m final in sixth place with a 50.35. The former NCAA champion is still yet to compete in the 200m and is expected to be named to Team USA’s relay team.
On the men’s side, Godwin was also sixth in the 400m final with yet another time under 45 seconds. The Covington, Ga., native registered a 44.94 to be the third collegiate finisher in the final round.
Also of note, former Bulldog Devon Williams did not start in the first day’s final event of the decathlon (400m) and did not start day two.
The Bulldogs have no competitors in the field on Monday. The competition takes a two-day break starting on Tuesday.
On Thursday, senior Kayla Smith and former All-American Morgann Leleux will compete in the qualifying round of the women’s pole vault at 8 p.m. while Moore and Orji will line up in the long jump at 8:45 p.m. Irby will also run in the opening round of the 200m at 9:31 p.m. and senior Amber Tanner will compete in the first round of the 800m at 10 p.m.