Georgia junior Denzel Comenentia won both the hammer throw and the shot put for only the third time in meet history to highlight the opening day of the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., on Wednesday.
Because of Comenentia’s performances alone, the Bulldog men stand in first place following day one with 20 points. The women’s competition begins on Thursday.
Comenentia passed the field with his fifth of six throws in the shot put to capture his second national championship of the day and of his career. This put him in elite company after only Auburn’s Cory Martin in 2008 and Jack Merchant in 1921 have ever swept both events at the same NCAA Championships (and only Merchant when the events were on the same day).
The Amsterdam, Netherlands, native bettered his No. 10 all-time collegiate performer status in the hammer to start the day by capturing the Bulldogs’ their first national hammer throw title on the men’s side since UGA went back-to-back-to-back in 2001-03. His mark was the second-best winning throw in the past 16 years.
Georgia also had two qualifiers for event finals during the opening day of competition, which had the top fan total since 2010 on an opening day (9,767). Senior Cejhae Greene punched his ticket to his first NCAA 100-meter dash final after equaling his personal record in the event. Junior Kendal Williams bounced back from the 100m to clock the fastest qualifying time in the 200m.
Also of note, freshman Johannes Erm and senior Karl Saluri posted day one personal-best scores to stand in second and fifth place, respectively, following five events of the decathlon. Erm trails leader Tim Duckworth of Kentucky by 174 points with 4,321 points and Saluri has accumulated 4,268 halfway through the competition.
This marks the final NCAA meet at Hayward Field before the facility, which first opened for track and field in 1921, undergoes a massive renovation that will expand its seating from 10,500 to the capability of having 30,000 fans for bigger championship meets. The next two NCAA outdoor meets in 2019-20 will be in Austin, Texas, during construction in Eugene.
ESPN has exclusive rights to broadcast the meet and will feature the Nationals on a variety of platforms:
*Thursday: 7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2; 12:50 p.m. – 10:45 p.m., ESPN3
*Friday: 8:30 p.m. – 11 p.m., ESPN; 3:20 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., ESPN3
*Saturday: 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m., ESPN; 2:20 p.m. – 8:15 p.m., ESPN3
To check out live results throughout the four-day season finale, please check out: gado.gs/969.
Comenentia, one of only two competitors at the meet who hails from the Netherlands, put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard in the first scored event of the meet with the second-longest throw in Georgia history. Fifth at last year’s NCAA meet, Comenentia started his series with a mark of 244 feet, 11 inches and never trailed during the six rounds. He capped his performance with a personal record of 250-8 on his fifth attempt, which improved his No. 2 spot in the school record books and improved his No. 10 spot as the all-time collegiate performer.
This was the first NCAA outdoor title for the Bulldogs since Maicel Uibo won the 2015 national decathlon crown.
Comenentia returned several hours later in the shot put and did not take the lead until the fifth of six rounds. Starting at 62-7.25, he inched up to 65-7 on his second throw. He then muscled the shot 67-7.50 to vault from the back of the top eight scoring pack into the lead. South Carolina’s Josh Awotunde approached his Southeastern Conference rival with a sixth attempt of 67-6 on his final try. However, Comenentia held on to capture Georgia’s first title in the event since Brent Noon won three straight ending in 1994.
This marks the first time the Bulldogs have won two NCAA outdoor titles in the same season. Georgia has now won 15 individual titles on the men’s side outdoors, including four in both the hammer and shot.
Erm stayed in the hunt for a decathlon title of his own with three personal records. Saluri had two personal records and a pair of season-best efforts to also put him in scoring position during his final collegiate meet.
Erm was second in the third heat and seventh overall after clocking a career best 10.86 in the opening 100m. In the long jump, Erm matched Saluri with a 25-2.50 opening mark. Erm then traveled the third-longest distance in school history and best since 1994 with a second attempt of 26-2.25. This vaulted him into third place, 74 behind the leader and 12 behind Saluri.
Erm also started his shot put series with his best effort of 44-2 and was 10th in the event. Going into the high jump, he slipped to fourth overall. Erm cleared four bars in the high jump and finished at 6-6. Following four events, he was in second place by 195 points after Duckworth cleared 6-11.75 in the high jump.
In the fifth event, Erm ran a career best 48.34 to finish just behind Saluri and in fourth place overall.
Saluri opened the decathlon by winning the 100m with a time that matched his personal best. He finished first in the opening heat with a 10.50, which was the same time he had at the 2017 SEC meet. Saluri held a 16-point edge over Duckworth going into the second event.
In the long jump, Saluri started with a personal record of 25-2.50 before following that up with a fresh career best of 25-3.25 on his second attempt. Duckworth went 26-3.50 to win the event and push Saluri into second place overall by 62 points.
Saluri was the only competitor to hit 47 feet in the shot put and won for another 753 points. He reached 47-3.50 on his opening attempt to hold on to the lead. Saluri cleared two heights, including 6-0, in the high jump. He went into the 400m in fifth place, trailing by 257 points.
Saluri’s season best for the day came in the 400m after he took third overall with a 48.14.
Georgia added two qualifiers on Wednesday. Greene advanced to the 100m final out of the third heat while Williams missed out. Greene shot out of the blocks and matched his UGA personal best of 10.05, which ranks fourth on the school’s all-time top-10 list, to be one of two at-large time qualifiers. This tied his time from last year’s NCAA semifinal, a race in which he was ninth and missed the final. Greene will race in the final on Friday at 9:22 p.m. ET.
Following a green card warning in the first group, Williams took fourth in the opening heat and 16th overall with a 10.16.
Williams returned in the 200m semifinal and showed the form that helped him capture the SEC 100m and 200m titles this year. He finished first in the opening heat and overall with a 20.23, which is Williams’ second-best 200m time as a Bulldog. Williams, who is Georgia’s first finalist in the event since Mel Lattany in 1981, will race in the final on Friday at 10:07 p.m.
With Williams and Greene preparing for the 100m and 200m, Raines, Jenkins, Nicholls and Nance took the track in the 4x100m relay semifinal, registered a 40.59 for 22nd place and did not advance.
On Thursday, Saluri and Erm return to action for the final five events of the decathlon (110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, 1500m) starting at 1 p.m. Freshman Tara Davis will begin the women’s competition with the 100m hurdle semifinal at 8:02 p.m. while the first women’s field event for the Lady Bulldogs will be sophomores Tairyn Montgomery and Marie-Therese Obst in the javelin at 8:15 p.m.
Other than the decathlon running Wednesday-Thursday and the heptathlon going Friday-Saturday, the meet is set up to be a men’s competition on Wednesday and Friday and a women’s competition on Thursday and Saturday.