The Georgia men’s and women’s track & field teams competed on day two of the 40th-annual Spec Towns Invitational in Athens, GA on Saturday as well as the opening day of the sixth annual Bulldog Decathlon/Heptathlon. A number of records fell before the eyes of the crowds gathered to see the action on a day that featured Bulldog track and football legend Champ Bailey be recognized, 2012 Olympic shot put bronze medalist Reese Hoffa awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award and wrestling Hall of Famer Ric Flair recap the Bulldogs’ record-breaking indoor campaign, Georgia significantly altered the UGA record books and stacked up the wins on the Spec Towns Track.
Highlighting the multi-event competitions, senior Devon Williams posted a day one personal best in the decathlon with 4,331 points through five events and trails the leader (Kentucky’s Tim Duckworth) by 24 points. Duckworth held a 224-point lead going into the heptathlon’s final event (1000m) at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships and Williams pulled out a 12-point victory.
Williams’ younger sister, senior Kendell Williams, tallied a collegiate day one personal best of 3,847 points in the heptathlon after four events. She has only scored more points through the first day of the heptathlon at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials en route to her school record 6,402-point performance to earn a trip to the Rio Games.
The third day of the competition begins on Sunday morning at 10:45 a.m. with the decathlon’s sixth event, 110-meter hurdles. The Bulldog Heptathlon also starts back with its fifth event, the long jump, at 12:45 p.m.
“We were very lucky today with the weather and we were lucky to start this meet with some good marks,” said Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou. “All cylinders were firing today and every event area showed up and did their thing. I thought our coaches and student-athletes were prepared for this meet and it showed on the track or in the field. Our highlight today had to be breaking the 33-year-old record in the men’s 4x100m relay. That finish is a testament to what I’ve told the Georgia fans that we will get some fast people and we are going to improve in our track events so we can work towards winning a national title. Those guys are doing a great job of complementing our strong field events.
“Denzel (Comenentia) was amazing in his shot put season opener and having guys like Kendal (Williams) running a 20.5 in the 200m, Bryan Kamau pulling out the win in the 1500m, all those guys did a really good job and are doing a good job of trying to get as many people as we can to Eugene (for the NCAA Outdoor Championships). We have a very good team on both genders, including a consistent high jumper in Mady Fagan, and we had a positive start to continuing our tradition in the combined events as both Devon (Williams) and Kendell (Williams) are ahead of their collegiate personal bests after the first day of the decathlon and heptathlon. I was also very pleased with Jessica Drop coming out in the 1500m and putting a 4:22 down. Overall this team is rocking and rolling right now and I am really proud of their efforts in pushing this team where we need to be.”
The Bulldog 4x100m relay team made history by winning with a school record time of 39.21. Sophomore Kendal Williams, junior Cejhae Greene, senior Reggie Glover and senior Maurice Freeman shot ahead of the 1984 squad on the UGA all-time top-10 list who finished in 39.24 at the Georgia Relays. Georgia is now fifth on this year’s national list.
Williams, who took control of the national lead in the 100m (9.99w) last week at the Texas Relays, vaulted to No. 9 on the 200m national list by winning on Saturday. Williams now sits eighth on the school’s all-time top-10 list in the event after his 20.56.
Freeman (46.03) continued his day by edging Clemson’s Jeffrey Green (46.04) for the win in the 400m. Moving up to No. 5 on the national list, Freeman’s time was the second fastest of his career. Senior Ayrian Evans ran a personal-best time of 46.93 to take fourth in the 400m.
The day concluded with Glover, Evans, Jeramey Hampton and Freeman combining to clock a season-best time of 3:08.15 to win the 4x400m relay.
On the women’ side, the Lady Bulldogs continued to reach times that the team has not clocked in more than a decade to be the top collegiate finisher (second overall) in the 4x400m relay. Chelsea Zoller, Devon Artis, Catherine Reid and Micaiah Ransby passed the baton to a 3:38.84 finish.
Coming off a win at both the 2017 SEC and NCAA Indoor Championships, junior Mady Fagan cruised to a victory in the high jump by matching her career-best height. Fagan cleared 5 feet, 11 ¼ inches on her first try, then 6-1.25 on her opening attempt at the height to tie her No. 5 mark in the school record books and move into the national lead.
On the track, Artis registered the fourth-best 800m time in UGA history with a 2:06.31 for third place. This currently stands at the nation’s sixth-fastest time this year. Artis’ time is also the best since Megan Malasarte, who was fourth (2:07.10) on Saturday running for the Atlanta Track Club, set the school record of 2:02.06 in 2013.
Sophomore Denzel Comenentia had a second throw of 64-2.25 in the men’s shot put to win by more than two feet. Comenentia’s effort improved his No. 6 spot in the school record books and situated him at No. 5 on the national performance list. He sat out the hammer throw on Friday night and discus on Saturday but already is No. 2 on the NCAA hammer list in that event.
Greene, who is a junior transfer from Florida State, ran in his first individual event as a Bulldog and won the 100m. Greene sped to a 10.28 finish to move into 11th on the NCAA performance list and into a tie for No. 10 in the school record books.
Boasting a trio of first attempt clearances, true freshman Darius Carbin finished second in the men’s high jump after clearing 7-1. Sophomore Keenon Laine reached 6-11 to tie for fourth after he and Carbin earned First Team indoor All-America honors in March.
Georgia featured a 1-2 finish in the men’s 1500m led by junior Bryan Kamau. Kamau moved to No. 6 on the school’s all-time top-10 list with the fastest time (3:45.60) for the Bulldogs since 2004. Senior Sid Vaughn blazed to a personal record of 3:49.98 to earn runner-up honors.
True freshman Jessica Drop completed the 1500m sweep for Georgia after registering a time of 4:22.37. This is the seventh-best time in school history (bumping the previous No. 7 from the 1991 Spec Towns meet). Fellow true freshmen Yanely Gomez and Sam Drop, who is Jessica’s twin sister, finished second and third, respectively, with times of 4:31.11 and 4:33.22.
The Bulldogs swept the 5000m to start the Spec Town Invitational’s second day. Sophomore Hailey Branch trimmed 55 seconds off her career best to win the women’s race with a time of 17:15.59. Freshman Bre Ragsdale came across the finish line fourth with a time of 17:35.07.
Redshirting in 2016, freshman Stephen Martinez was the only competitor to break 15 minutes and picked up the win in the men’s 5000m. Martinez ran a 14:54.37 while sophomore Terrell Estime finished third after finishing with a time of 15:12.77.
Also of note, junior Anna Machovec finished third in the shot put with the best mark for the Lady Bulldogs since 2012. Machovec’s personal-best effort of 47-9.75 moved her to No. 8 on the school’s all-time list.
One of three to break 24 seconds in the 200m, true freshman Micaiah Ransby grabbed the collegiate victory and was second overall after clocking a 23.89. Later in the 400m, Ransby finished second with a mark of 54.57. Another freshman, Catherine Reid, ran the fastest time of her collegiate career (54.91) for third place.
Redshirt freshman Jonathan Pelham notched his first collegiate win after taking second overall in the 3000m steeplechase. Pelham completed his laps in 9:28.16 to finish just ahead of teammate Tyler Jones (9:34.54).
Freshman Chelsea Zoller came around to end the 400m hurdles in fifth place with a time of 1:01.64. This betters her No. 10 time in the UGA record books.
Freshman Tairyn Montgomery also earned runner-up honors in the javelin after her third attempt measured 154-11.
With junior Karl Saluri training through the meet, Devon Williams started his first decathlon of the season finishing second in the 100m. He ran a 10.72 for 947 points.
Williams also earned runner-up honors in the long jump after eclipsing his previous personal best on his third try. He soared 25-5.25 (997 points) on his third and final try to tie the No. 9 spot in the Bulldog record books.
In the shot put, Williams earned his first win of the competition, lifting the ball 46-7.25 on his second attempt. This finish earned him 741 points.
Williams’ second personal record of the day came in the high jump as he tied for fourth for 767 points. He cleared 6-5 on his first try to stay near to Duckworth, who cleared 6-11.
During the decathlon’s 400m, Williams hit his third career best in five events by taking second with a 48.14. He scored 902 points and closed the overall gap heading into Sunday’s final five events.
A group of five Georgia women, led by Kendell Williams, took part in the opening day of the heptathlon. While Williams’ 3,847 gives her a healthy lead, freshman Louisa Grauvogel (3,472), sophomore Aliyah Johnson (3,243), sophomore Mary Terry (2,875) and freshman Makenzi Kopp (2,491) stand in second through fifth place. This marks the first heptathlon for all but Williams and Terry, who has only done one and scored 4,330 in 2016.
Williams, who is the defending NCAA champion, started the day by winning the 100m hurdles with a 13.17. She scored 1,099 points for her effort as Grauvogel took second with a 13.63, which is a time that ranks her sixth on the school’s all-time list.
Williams, a Marietta, Ga., native, hit her sole personal record of the day in the high jump for 1,041 points. Williams went over the bar at 6-0.75 to tie for sixth in the school record books and move into the nation’s top five for this year.
Williams won her third straight event after hitting a mark of 42-2 in the shot put. This effort earned her 717 points.
To conclude her first day, Williams ran a 23.90 in the 200m and scored 990 points to put her in position to possibly reach the 6,300-point plateau in the heptathlon on Sunday.
There is free admission to all three days of action at the Spec Towns Track. Please visit the following link for live results of both the Spec Towns meet and the multis competition: http://gado.gs/7a8
CLICK HERE for the results from Saturday’s competition at the Spec Towns Invitational and the Bulldog Decathlon/Heptathlon.