During Thursday’s NCAA East Prelims in Lexington, KY, the Georgia track and field team added six more qualifiers for the NCAA Championships. The day was headlined by Kate Hall’s school record in the long jump.
Hall, a redshirt freshman from Casco, Maine, soared 20 feet, 10 inches on her second long jump attempt, a mark that would have qualified for Nationals. The Iowa State transfer then followed that up with a school-record mark of 21-11 on her final try to win the competition and advance to NCAAs. This effort topped Chanice Porter’s former school record of 21-10.75 that won last year’s Nationals on Porter’s birthday Thursday.
The Lady Bulldogs also scored another qualifier for the NCAA Championships in the long jump. Junior Keturah Orji, who is the two-time defending national triple jump champion, opened with a long jump effort of 21-7.50 and cruised to her invitation to the University of Oregon’s campus with a fourth-place finish.
Hall, Orji and four other Georgia team members finished in the top 12 in their field events to advance to the coming NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., on June 7-10. The NCAA West Prelims are running simultaneously in Austin, Texas, and will deliver the other half of the Nationals’ field.
Freshman Beatrice Llano kicked the day off by taking second in the hammer and advancing to the first NCAA Championships of her career. Llano sandwiched a toss of 211-10 in between her first and third throws to take second overall and extend her season.
Also of note, senior Asianna Covington concluded her career with a 14th-place finish (189-10) in the hammer, two spots from qualifying.
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The Bulldog men had two throwers advance to the season’s final meet in the hammer. Sophomore Denzel Comenentia, who will be returning to Eugene for the second straight year, went 230-3 on his second toss for third place. Senior Alex Poursanidis, who is advancing to his fourth NCAA Championships in a row, also had his longest throw on his second attempt at 228-0 to take fourth.
Redshirt freshman Kayla Smith made her presence known on the University of Kentucky track by advancing to the NCAA Championships in the pole vault. Clearing 13-5.25 on her second attempt, Smith then reached a career-best height on her opening try of 13-9.25, which is No. 5 on UGA list & best since ’12, to reach her first trip to Nationals.
Coming into this week’s meet, decathletes Devon Williams and Karl Saluri and heptathletes Kendell Williams and Louisa Grauvogel had already scored qualifying scores in the combined events and punched their tickets to Eugene.
Georgia also had four runners advance to the next rounds in their respective events on Thursday. A pair of 100-meter dash sprinters cruised through to the next round with times that came within .01 of each other. Sophomore Kendal Williams ran a 10.21 to be the fifth finisher while junior Cejhae Greene clocked a 10.22 to cross the line sixth overall.
Senior Maurice Freeman, who will line up with Williams and Greene in the 4x100m relay later in the weekend, was in the top 24 finishers in the 400m with a 47.31. Freeman was the 16th overall finisher after taking third in his heat.
A leg of the Bulldog 4x400m relay, sophomore Jeramey Hampton, kept his hopes alive in the 800m by registering the day’s 10th-fastest time. Hampton ran a 1:49.31 after finishing sixth in the event at the SEC Championships.
Also of note, freshman Sam Drop complemented her scoring performance at the SEC meet by recording UGA’s fastest 10,000m time since 2011 to take 18th. Drop finished her 25 laps in 34:29.84, which is the third-best time in school history.
Mady Fagan and Tatiana Gusin start the day for Georgia in the women’s high jump on Friday at 4:30 p.m. Freeman will be the first Bulldog on the track in the 400m quarterfinals during the meet’s second day at 5:45 p.m.