Track and Field: Torrin Lawrence Memorial Meet Begins Today

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Track and Field: Torrin Lawrence Memorial Meet Begins Today

Tatiana Gusin
Tatiana Gusin
2018 Torrin Lawrence Memorial

The Georgia track and field teams compete in their final regular season meet of the year as they play host to the third annual Torrin Lawrence Memorial in Athens on Friday and Saturday.

The Lady Bulldogs and the Georgia men will welcome Auburn, Georgia Tech and Georgia State along with a host of competitors from other collegiate teams and professional competitors to the Spec Towns Track for the program’s second home meet of the year.  This will mark the final regular season action before the Southeastern Conference Championships arrive in Fayetteville, Ark., on May 9-11. 

When Do The Bulldogs Start Competition? The Torrin Lawrence Memorial begins with the women’s hammer throw at 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon.  The first event on the track is the women’s 800 meters at 5:30 p.m. later that day. 

The meet’s second day kicks off with the women’s shot put at 11 a.m. on Saturday.  Track events begin with the women’s 4x100m relay at 12:50 p.m.

The Bulldogs will honor the late, great Torrin Lawrence and recognize the program’s seniors who are saying farewell to their time in Athens at 12:30 p.m. 

The first 100 fans on Saturday will receive free T-shirts, there will be a raffle featuring Bulldog gear and Apple AirPods and there will be a Kids Zone, including a bounce house and face painting.  In addition, fans can participate in a sack race at 2:30 p.m. to try and win a Nintendo Switch.

Don’t Forget KO: Already sporting the world’s fifth-best long jump mark this year (21 feet, 11 ½ inches) from Georgia’s first home meet at the Spec Towns Invitational, former Lady Bulldog Keturah Orji will be making her season debut in the triple jump at her home track on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.  The seven-time NCAA champion in the event finished as the indoor and outdoor collegiate record holder in the triple jump and was fourth at the 2016 Olympics.

Kate Hall
Kate Hall
2018 Torrin Lawrence Memorial

Live Results For #19TLMemorialgado.gs/2gj

Kyprianou’s Comments: “Spaced two weeks out from the beginning of our postseason, the Torrin Lawrence Memorial provides our teams the chance in a familiar setting with friends and family present to compete in warm weather, pay tribute to our seniors and fine-tune everyone before SECs,” said head coach Petros Kyprianou.  “We had a number of breakthrough performances last weekend and I am encouraged that we can build on those this weekend.  As usual, our main goal as we approach these months is to have everyone healthy and happy.  Looking forward to a weekend in Athens and Go Dawgs !”

Kyprianou, who joined Georgia as an assistant in 2008 and was here throughout Lawrence’s career at UGA, continues to honor one of the Bulldogs’ all-time greats.

“Torrin’s incredible talent on the track was only matched by what kind of character he presented each day of his life,” Kyprianou explained.  “He was a team favorite because not only was he one of the world’s best at what he did in the sprints, but also because his bright personality was infectious and others followed him.  The name of this meet just fits since this event is a combination of collegiate student-athletes and post collegians preparing for the ‘championship’ part of their seasons, and that’s who Torrin was.  It is pretty rare to have a laid-back person like Torrin compete at a level to win a national championship in the sprints and be in discussions as one of the world’s fastest guys.”

Remembering A Bulldog Great: Known in the past as the Georgia Invitational, Kyprianou and his coaching staff decided before the 2017 season to rename the Bulldogs’ final home meet of the year the Torrin Lawrence Memorial.  Lawrence, a Jacksonville, Fla., native competed for Georgia from 2009-12 and graduated with a degree in Sociology in 2013.  During his time as a Bulldog, he captured three SEC titles, an NCAA crown and set a collegiate record in the indoor 300m.  Lawrence was tragically killed in a car accident on July 28, 2014.  He was 25-years-old.

Lawrence, who still owns one of the top 10 collegiate indoor 400m times in history (45.03), started his career as the 2009 SEC Freshman Runner of the Year and was eventually named the 2010 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Indoor Male Track Athlete of the Year.  Following his UGA career, Lawrence signed with Nike and was one of Team USA’s brightest prospects in the sprints. 

Mecole Hardman
Mecole Hardman
2018 Torrin Lawrence Memorial

A Flashback From The 2018 Torrin Lawrence Memorial: Georgia played host to the second meet of this kind last year and it included a host of performances that helped build momentum into the postseason:

  • Denzel Comenentia surged into the No. 2 spot in the school record books in both the shot put and discus for a pair of victories.  He reached 67-8 in the shot, which ranked second nationally, and then tossed the discus 192-11, which stood 12th nationally and third in the SEC. 
  • Kendal Williams and Cejhae Greene also primed up for the conference meet by grabbing the top two collegiate spots (second and third overall) in the 100m with wind-legal times of 10.22 and 10.28, respectively. 
  • In a women’s long jump competition that featured four jumpers over 19-10, Kate Hall soared a season-best distance of 21-9 to have the top collegiate finish (third overall) behind former Lady Bulldog NCAA champion Chanice Porter (22-1.75). 
  • Tatiana Gusin, who held the national lead in the high jump, was the top collegiate finisher (second overall) after clearing 6-1.25. 
  • Hall, Lynna Irby, Micaiah Ransby and Tara Davis combined to clock the third-best time in school history with a 44.02 to cruise to a victory in the 4×100-meter relay. 
  • Ransby also assumed the No. 9 spot in the school record books in the 200m after winning with a 23.47. 
  • In the javelin, sophomore Tairyn Montgomery hit a mark of 163-8 to take first place. 

A Glimpse From The Dogs’ Last Action: The Bulldogs’ fourth regular season meet weekend of the year was in Southern California with the Mt. SAC Relays and the Beach Invitational.  Here is a breakdown of Georgia’s highlights from the two meets:

Mt. SAC Relays:

  • Comenentia, who earned SEC Men’s Field Athlete of the Week honors, began the weekend by topping his own Dutch national record in the hammer throw with a top effort of 252-0 at the Mt. SAC Relays.  Starting with a mark of 247-3, which also would have been the national leader, he built to his NCAA/SEC leading mark that ranks No. 2 on Georgia’s all-time list on his fifth throw.  Comenentia is sixth on the 2019 world list and is the youngest competitor in that top six. 
  • A pair of Bulldogs went over the high jump bar at 7-2.25 or better to position UGA favorably for the postseason.  Senior Keenon Laine cleared 7-4.25, which matched his season best, to be the top collegiate finisher (third overall) while junior Darius Carbin hit a season-best mark of 7-2.25 to take fifth overall. 
  • As sophomore Johannes Erm prepares for the postseason in the decathlon, he reached a personal best of 152-5 in the discus. 
  • Also of note, senior Michael Nicholls ran a 13.83 to take fifth in the 110m hurdles.
  • Sophomore Aliyah Whisby, who is returning from a First Team All-America finish in the pentathlon indoors, competed in the open long jump and went 21-8 to earn SEC Women’s Field Athlete of the Week honors.  This personal record tied her for the national lead, gave her the SEC lead, moved her to No. 6 on the all-time UGA list and shot her to No. 8 on the 2019 world list.  Whisby also had a mark of 21-6 in her series, which would have won the meet and ranked fourth nationally. 
  • Junior Jessica Drop clocked her second consecutive sub-16 minute 5000 meter time of the 2019 outdoor season to be the top collegiate finisher (second overall out of 42).  She finished her laps in a season best 15:41.53, which leads the SEC, is ranked sixth nationally and makes her the No. 4 American on the 2019 world list (No. 16 overall).  Drop’s time is just three seconds off her school record that was set at the 2018 Mt SAC Relays. 
  • Senior Mady Fagan rejoined the six-foot club in the high jump for the first time since winning the 2017 NCAA title at 6-3.25 to win over the weekend.  Fagan posted a rare four third-attempt clearances and finished at 6-0 to shoot to No. 8 on the national list. 
  • Freshman Titiana Marsh made her outdoor debut in the triple jump and left the track with the ninth-best effort in Georgia history.  Marsh traveled 43-2.50 against -2.2 meter/second winds to take fourth overall (second collegiate finisher). 
  • After running the 10th-fastest 100m hurdle time in school history of 13.62 in the prelims, freshman Imani Carothers finished seventh in the final (13.67). 
  • Micaiah Ransby, Sterling Lester, Chelsea Zoller and Amber Tanner clocked the eighth-best 4x400m relay time in school history (3:36.78) for sixth place. 
  • Tanner managed a fourth-place finish in the 800m Invitational with a 2:04.93. 
  • Featuring a third attempt clearance of 14-1.75 at the Long Beach meet, junior Kayla Smith finished seventh in the pole vault competition with the third-best mark in history for the Georgia women (best since 2012).

Beach Invitational:

  • Comenentia returned to action at the nearby Beach Invitational and worked up to a third throw in the shot put of 68-2.25 (season best) to be the third collegiate finisher (fifth overall).  He leads the SEC and is ranked fifth nationally following his competition that featured five results in the world’s top 15 performances this year, including the leader of 74-7.25. 
  • Junior Marie-Therese Obst built up to a sixth and final throw of 165-7 to take sixth in the javelin.

Next Stops For The Dogs: Following this weekend’s meet, the SEC Championships will arrive on May 9-11 at the University of Arkansas.  Georgia will then ready for the NCAA East Prelims in Jacksonville, Fla., on May 23-25.  Those qualified will continue their seasons at the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas, on June 5-8.

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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.