ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia long jumpers locked down three of the country’s top six spots to highlight the first day of the Spec Towns Invitational and Bulldog Decathlon/Heptathlon in Athens on Friday.
Senior Keturah Orji rocketed to No. 2 on the NCAA list by matching her career-best long jump mark of 22 feet, ¼ inches, which is also No. 2 in UGA’s record books, to win. Freshman Tara Davis made her outdoor debut in the event and shot to fourth on the school’s all-time top-10 list after reaching 21-9 for second while sophomore Kate Hall reached 21-5.50 for fifth to round out the Lady Bulldog scorers.
Also of note, freshman Louisa Grauvogel scored a day one personal best of 3,649 points to take the lead in the heptathlon while on the men’s side, freshman Johannes Erm (4,294) and senior Karl Saluri (4,264) stand 2-3 in the decathlon behind Kentucky’s Tim Duckworth (4,568) through the first day.
The Bulldog Heptathlon jumpstarts Saturday’s action with the long jump at 11 a.m. and the open events begin with the men’s 5000 meters at 9 a.m.
“It was a fun day being outside at our renovated Spec Towns Track,” said head coach Petros Kyprianou. “It was nice to see some of our top student-athletes make their official opener and set some high standards for the rest of the outdoor season. I’m looking forward to continuing this momentum and culture building towards the NCAA Championships in Oregon as we are expecting some Oregon-like weather on Saturday.
“There are no excuses and everyone has to perform at their best at their given moment. This is what we are preparing for and nothing but your best is accepted. All in all, I am very pleased with our crew today. Now we are off to Saturday and the final day of our first outdoor home meet of the year and hoping for the best.”
Following a third-place finish in both the 200m and 400m at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships, freshman Lynna Irby opened her outdoor career by winning the 200m on Friday. She clocked a 22.64, which ranks third on this year’s national list and fourth on the school’s all-time top-10 list.
Traditionally, the Bulldog Decathlon/Heptathlon has produced many of the nation’s top scores and 2018 looks to be more of the same. Saluri finished behind Duckworth in the 100m to open the decathlon. Saluri clocked a 10.57 (959 points) while Erm was sixth with a time of 10.99 (863).
Erm opened with the seventh-best long jump mark in school history to take second in the event behind Duckworth and move to third overall. Erm traveled 25-6.25 for 1,005 points. Saluri had a second try of 25-1.75 to finish third in the event and score 952 points to stay in second.
The Bulldogs went 4-5 in the shot put to remain in second and third place overall. Erm closed his competition with a third try to 46-0 while Saluri opened with an effort of 45-10. Following the third event, Saluri (2,661) was 117 points behind the leader while Erm was behind him at 2,598.
Erm posted a third attempt clearance of 6-7 in the high jump to take third and score 813 points as the competition continued. In the same event Saluri reached his personal record of 6-1.25 and was seventh in the event.
To complete the decathlon’s first day, Saluri won the 400m after rounding out his lap in 48.24 for 898 points. Not far behind him was teammate Erm, who ran a 48.55 for second place at 883 points. This put Estonians Erm, Saluri and former Bulldog NCAA champion Maicel Uibo (4,247) in 2-3-4 position after the first day.
In the heptathlon, Grauvogel began her day by winning the 100m hurdles with a career-best time of 13.16 (1,100). This is the fifth-best time in school history. She answered with her second personal record of the day in the high jump, winning the event with a mark of 5-7.75 thanks to five consecutive first attempt clearances.
In the shot put, Grauvogel started with a foul and finished with a winning throw of 39-3.25 for 659 points. She completed the day one sweep with a personal-best 200m time of 23.69 for another 1,011 points. Grauvogel completed her first four events with 3,649 points.
Junior triple jumper Aliyah Johnson scored 3,138 points in the heptathlon to put herself in the second position. Her performance included a runner-up finish in the hurdles with a 14.10.
Another personal best on the day came from senior Emily Savage in the pole vault for third place. After a third attempt clearance of 12-11.75, she again cleared 13-3.75 on her third try to move to No. 10 on the school’s all-time list.
Junior Kendal Williams sped to a 20.85 to be the only competitor to break 21 seconds in the men’s open 200m to pick up a victory.
In the javelin, junior Joe Kimura Smith reached 200 feet for the second meet in a row to win. He launched an effort of 200-10 on his fifth throw to pick up a 13-foot win.
On the women’s side, sophomore Tairyn Montgomery managed a runner-up finish after her sixth and final toss reached a season-best distance of 162-7. Freshman Marie-Therese Obst reacted to an opening foul with a second throw of 158-2 for third place, which gave her the 10th-best effort in school history.
Senior Alex Larsson worked up to a season-best mark in the hammer to take second. He launched an effort of 205-10 on his fifth attempt to improve his final runner-up position.
Georgia also managed a 2-3-4 finish in the men’s 1500m as junior Austin Sprague led the way with a 3:55.02.