Track & Field: Dawgs Add Three Titles on Final Day of SECs

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Track & Field: Dawgs Add Three Titles on Final Day of SECs

Keturah Orji Photo: Georgia Sports Communications
Keturah Orji Photo: Georgia Sports Communications


COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Bulldogs secured three more individual titles to highlight the final day of the Southeastern Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships in College Station, Texas, on Sunday.


The fourth-ranked Lady Bulldogs scored 84.5 points to take second behind Arkansas (108) and stay in front of Kentucky (74).  This marked the women’s top finish at the meet since 2007.  The Georgia men (71) finished fifth place while Alabama (91), Arkansas (88) and Florida (83.5) made up the top three team finishers.


True freshman Lynna Irby set a pair of school records and won the 200-meter dash crown, senior Keturah Orji made history by winning her fourth straight triple jump championship at the meet and true freshman Johannes Erm gave the Bulldogs their seventh heptathlon title since 2010.


On Saturday, junior Denzel Comenentia captured Georgia’s first SEC men’s weight throw title since Lucais MacKay in 2004 and junior Kate Hall brought the first women’s indoor long jump crown back to Athens since 2013 (Chanice Porter) on Saturday.


“We had some really outstanding performances and I was excited about Lynna’s records to wrap up today,” said Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou.  “Our performance at this meet shows we are here to stay and I feel confident about our teams going into NCAAs.  Overall, our teams followed the momentum started on Saturday.  I told our team that we are not designed for the SEC Championships but rather for Nationals but both teams did well this weekend.  Now it’s time to focused, get healthy and prepare ourselves for the NCAA meet.  I want to thank all of our individuals for their hard work and for pushing it at this meet.”


Petros Kyprianou Photo: Georgia Sports Communications
Petros Kyprianou Photo: Georgia Sports Communications


The final champion of the meet for Georgia was Irby in the 200m.  Less than two hours after taking second in the 400m in record-breaking fashion, Irby left the field behind on the final straightaway of the 200m to clock the nation and world’s fastest time this year.  Her finish of 22.66 betters her previous school record of 22.96 set at this year’s Razorback Invitational.


This is the first conference crown in the event for the Lady Bulldogs since Debbie Ferguson captured the 1995 title with a 23.56.


Earlier in the afternoon, Irby rocketed to a school record time of 50.62 to take second in the 400m.  Her time is the fourth-best in NCAA history and is second on the current world list.  Irby stayed with Kentucky’s Sydney McLaughlin (50.62, World Junior record) through the first lap and the Indianapolis, Ind., native nearly caught Wildcat freshman at the line as the competitors finished with two of the top times in collegiate history.


Orji, a native of Mount Olive, N.J., gave the women’s triple jump competition its most suspense in the last four years during the run to her historic fourth straight title.  Holding a lead for through the first five rounds with a top mark of 45 feet, 10 ½ inches, Florida’s Yanis David traveled 46-3.50 on her last attempt to put pressure on Orji.  The Bulldogs’ seven-time SEC champion and five-time NCAA winner calmly took off on her sixth and final try to travel 46-6.25 to clinch the victory.


Orji’s mark tied the No. 10 spot on the all-time top-10 collegiate list and gives her seven marks on that list.  She also becomes the first competitor in SEC history to win four of the same women’s indoor field events in history.


Erm became the third Bulldog champion of the weekend after scoring a personal-best total of 5,716 points in the heptathlon.  The native of Estonia posted four career-best performances during his seven events and delivered Georgia its seventh SEC heptathlon title in the last nine years.  Erm’s score ranks 10th nationally going into the NCAA Championships.


Erm was third overall in the 60m hurdles after registering an 8.28, which put him into fourth place by 79 points.  After senior Karl Saluri was forced to pull out of the competition, Erm took advantage and recorded a personal record of 15-7 in the pole vault to take second and move into a 31-point edge of the second-place competitor and a 41-point lead over third place.


To wrap up his drive to the heptathlon title, Erm won the 1000m with the fastest time of his career at 2:41.77.  This pushed his lead to 66 points as the competition concluded.


Saluri completed the 60m hurdles in 8.62 in the day’s first event to keep a 51-point lead.  Following the hurdles, Saluri was unable to continue in the competition because of an injury. Saluri was in first by 107 points after the first day and Erm was in and third.


Senior Cejhae Greene and junior Kendal Williams combined for 13 points in the 60m final as both are expected to return to College Station for the NCAA meet.  Greene, who was competing at his first SEC indoor meet, matched his personal record of 6.62 (No. 2 in school record books) to earn runner-up honors in the final.  Williams, who was fifth at the 2017 NCAA Championships, repeated his fourth-place performance at this meet from last year with a 6.64.


A day after capturing his SEC weight throw title, Comenentia improved on his second, fourth and sixth shot put attempts and topped out at 64-2.50.  This earned Comenentia a third-place finish after he came into the competition ranked third nationally.


Junior Michael Nicholls made his first trip to the SEC meet after transferring to UGA in January and left with a scoring spot.  He clocked a 7.84 in the 60m hurdle final to take fourth and tally five points for the Bulldogs.


Sophomore Amber Tanner ran her second personal record of 2018 in the 800m and managed a fourth-place finish in her season finale.  After falling to the back of the pack early in the race, Tanner surged into the front four in the final lap to finish with the third-best time in school history and best since 2014.


Senior Mady Fagan, who was the defending SEC champion and won last year’s NCAA indoor and outdoor high jump championships, battled to tie for fourth with a clearance of 5-10.75.  She reached the height on her second try and will now aim to score at Nationals.


Also on the women’s side, freshman Tara Davis, who came into the final with the top qualifying time in the 60m hurdles after registering the nation’s fifth-best time (8.03) in the prelims, took fifth in the final.  This complemented her fifth-place finish in the long jump during the meet’s first day.


Junior Kate Hall switched from the infield to the track for the 60m final after winning her first long jump title on Saturday.  The Casco, Maine, native ran the second-fastest time of her career at 7.27, which trails only her school record of 7.22 on Saturday, to take seventh for another pair of Lady Bulldog points.


On the distance side, junior Hailey Branch managed a career-best time of 16:42.24 to take sixth in the 5000m in one of the meet’s final events.


Junior Eric Westog added another two points to the Bulldogs’ total in the 5000m with a career-best time of 14:27.97.  He finished seventh as his teammate Austin Sprague finished just outside of scoring with a ninth-place finish.


Georgia will return to action at the NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station on March 9-10.




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