Georgia’s track and field teams combined for five meet records, two school records and 11 victories at Texas A&M’s Aggie Invitational in College Station, Texas, on Saturday.
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Senior Kendell Williams captured wins in the 60-meter hurdles and the long jump with the best marks in meet history to highlight the second of four regular season indoor meets for UGA.
Junior Mady Fagan (high jump), senior Alex Poursanidis (weight throw) and junior Keturah Orji (triple jump) also won with meet record marks as the Lady Bulldogs and the Georgia men attempt to approve their No. 3 and No. 8 national rankings, respectively.
“We had a great day today in College Station,” said Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou. “Every time you get team members to hit marks that rank at the top of the NCAA list is encouraging and highly contagious to the rest of the team. Both teams competed with pride and laser focus while gathering some very high quality marks. In addition to our standouts today, many of our competitors continued with more of the same success including Shelby (Ashe), Darius (Carbin), Kate (Hall) and others.”
Kyprianou expressed to his teams on Friday that he is ready for both of them to be at the top of the rankings when the NCAA Indoor Championships are complete.
“I asked them last night, ‘Why not you? Why do we have to be the ones who are disrespected because we don’t dominate the running events – yet? Why can’t we just show up and expect greatness?’ Our team motto of find your greatness seems to be sinking in and all of our groups and areas seem to be responding. Our ultimate goal is to get as many as we can to NCAAs. Personal bests and high rankings are great for momentum, but the big picture becomes much more clear in March. Our student-athletes are onboard and I’m very optimistic for the future, as long as we stay healthy and happy!”
During her first action in the triple jump since the Rio Olympics, Keturah Orji picked right up where she left off at the collegiate level in 2016 and took over the 2017 national lead. Orji went over 45 feet three times, topping out at 45 feet, 9 ¼ inches to win by three and a half feet. Her junior training partner Aliyah Johnson surpassed 40 feet for the second straight time this year and finished third (40-11.75).
“Keturah keeps proving she is an invaluable member of this team and a fierce leader,” said Kyprianou.
Two weeks after senior Tatiana Gusin popped a personal record of 6-2.75 in the high jump to grasp the national lead, Mady Fagan answered that performance with a career-best clearance of her own at 6-2.75 to win on Saturday. This clearance came on her first try and tied her for No. 2 in the school record books.
“Mady showed she belongs in the elite group of female high jumpers,” Kyprianou said.
Kendell Williams bested her own school record in the 60m hurdles and shot to No. 2 on the current national list. After winning the prelims with an 8.18 over freshman teammate Louisa Grauvogel (8.58), Williams sped to an 8.07 in the finals. This time was faster than her 8.09 at last year’s NCAA Championships in the pentathlon and Hyleas Fountain at the 2004 SEC Championships.
Williams notched a second win on the day in the long jump with her top effort since 2015. Taking only three attempts as she does in the multi-events, she traveled 21-4.75 to win by two feet and vaulted her to No. 2 on the national list.
“Kendell continues to remain humble and continues to progress from where she started,” said Kyprianou.
Trimming .09 seconds off his prelims time, sophomore Kendal Williams established a school record in the 60m finals to win. He ran a 6.68 to best former Bulldog Eric Hall’s time of 6.69 set in 1997 and move into a tie for the nation’s seventh-best time this year. This marked Williams’ official debut for the Bulldogs after redshirting in 2016 following his transfer from Florida State.
The Bulldogs a managed a 1-2 finish in the weight throw highlighted by the second-best toss in the nation this year. Alex Poursanidis, who put a career-long toss of 69-10.50 out two weeks ago, had five throws that measured at least 71-2 on Saturday. His top mark was 72-6.50, which is the best for a Bulldog since NCAA champion Andras Haklits exploded for an 80-2 throw in 2001.
“I thought Alex surprised himself again with a nice personal best in the weight throw,” said Kyprianou.
Sophomore Denzel Comenentia finished second in the weight during his first competition in the event with an effort of 65-7.50 with just three throws. Comenentia also won the shot put after reaching 59-11.
Georgia completed the sweep in the weight after senior Shelby Ashe watched her fourth attempt travel 68-9.75. This is also the second-best mark on the school’s all-time top-10 list and put Ashe at the No. 6 spot on the national list. Junior Asianna Covington finished third (65 feet).
In the men’s high jump, true freshman Darius Carbin posted a first attempt clearance at 7-1.50 to register his first collegiate victory. He has now surpassed the 7-foot mark in each of his first two meets. Sophomore transfer Keenon Laine finished third with a third attempt clearance at 7-0.25, also reaching 7 feet for the second time in 2017.
Freshman Sam Drop moved into the No. 9 spot in the school record books and into the country’s top 15 this year with a runner-up finish in the 3000m. Drop ran a 9:33.62 in her first collegiate race at the distance.
Kendell Williams’ older brother, Devon Williams, was the only competitor to break 8.00 in the 60m hurdles and won with a time of 7.96. Like her brother, Devon is training for the multi-events when the postseason arrives.
Junior Bryan Kamau picked up a victory in the men’s mile after completing his laps in 4:08.01.
The Georgia women managed a second and fourth-place finish in the mile with junior Morgan Ainslie running a personal-best time of 4:55.45 for runner-up honors. True freshman Yanely Gomez finished two spots behind with a 4:57.33.
The Lady Bulldogs had two qualifiers for the 60m finals in sophomore Kate Hall and junior Katie Stone. Hall, who won the prelims, finished third while Stone clocked a season-best time of 7.56 in the first round and finished fifth (7.61) in the finals.
Also of note, junior Devon Artis ran the fastest indoor 800m time of her career (2:11.97) for third place.
The Bulldogs will quickly return to action at the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., on January 27-28.