KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Bulldogs finished the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a flurry of five more league titles and a collegiate record in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday.
The Georgia men wrapped up the night in fifth place with 71 points and saw Florida (111), Texas A&M (100) and Arkansas (99) take the top three spots. The Lady Bulldogs completed the meet in eighth place with 61 points while Florida (91), LSU (88.5) and Texas A&M (79.5) rounded out the top three finishers.
Also of note, junior Denzel Comenentia, who registered two SEC championships and scored in a third event, won the Commissioner’s Trophy after tallying 23 points to be the meet’s top scorer on the men’ side. Georgia’s nine total SEC titles over the three-day meet established a school record.
“I think a number of individuals finished this meet for us in amazing fashion and we reached our goal of coming back to Athens with a lot of SEC titles,” said head coach Petros Kyprianou. “There is work to be done before we get to (NCAA East Prelims) but most of our high-level performers answered the bell and continued their progress at this meet. We will rest on Monday and then recover and get back to training this week before the first round of Nationals in Tampa. It’s been another great weekend to be a Bulldog!”
Senior Keturah Orji, a native of Mount Olive, N.J., surpassed her collegiate record of 47 feet, 8 inches from the 2016 NCAA Championships with a wind-legal mark of 47-11.75 on her sixth and final attempt to also set a meet and facility record. This clinched her second conference title of the meet and made her the first competitor in SEC history to win the same event four years in a row both indoors and outdoors.
Junior Kendal Williams became the first Bulldog to sweep the 100-meter dash and the 200m since Georgia legend Mel Lattany accomplished the feat in 1981. Williams first set a 2018 national best and school record of 9.99, which ranks second on this year’s world list, before getting to a personal record of 20.15 (No. 5 on this year’s national list) to earn himself a pair of gold medals.
True freshman Lynna Irby, who came into the weekend ranked third nationally in the 400m, chose to race in the 200m and left the Tom Black Track with the country’s fastest time (22.25). This was the Georgia women’s first crown in the event since Debbie Ferguson was first across the line for the Lady Bulldogs in 1999.
Senior Tatiana Gusin began the day by capturing the team’s fifth championship of the weekend and second of her career in the high jump. The Orhei, Moldova, native was the only competitor to clear 6 feet and gave the Bulldogs’ their fifth title in the event in the last six years. She was second at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Championships and will now begin her pursuit of capturing her first national championship.
During Friday and Saturday’s action, the Bulldog teams combined for four titles to make the eventual school record possible.
Comenentia battled for his second SEC outdoor shot put title in a row with a personal-best mark of 68-6. Comenentia also started the men’s scoring by recording his second straight conference hammer title with a meet record of 249-1 on Friday. He now has six total SEC crowns combined from his victories in the hammer, shot put and weight throw indoors and outdoors.
Senior Karl Saluri completed his conference career by winning his first league crown in the decathlon by 33 points at 7,934, securing an expected invitation to his third NCAA Championships in a row and a chance at the European Championships.
As she had seven times before in her career, Orji locked down her first league individual title of the weekend in the long jump, which is a first for her. The Mount Olive, N.J., native posted a UGA record and NCAA leading mark of 22-4.25 on her third attempt to add 10 points to the Lady Bulldogs’ total.
Orji highlighted Sunday’s action with a collegiate record to give her all six of the top collegiate marks of all-time. Two weeks after Florida’s Yanis David came within eight inches of Orji’s previous 2018 NCAA leading mark of 47-0.25, Orji left little suspense after her opening attempt. She took off for a windy mark of 47-6.50, which ranked third on the all-time collegiate wind-aided list. While Orji was fouling her next three attempts, David improved to 46-1.25 and that is as close as she would get.
Orji returned in the fifth round with another windy mark of 47-7.25, which took over as the No. 3 wind-aided mark in NCAA history. With her victory in hand, Orji concluded her series with her fresh collegiate record mark of 47-11.75. This jump had a wind-legal reading of 1.5 meters/second. She also now owns three out of the top four windy marks ever in the NCAA.
Gusin came into the high jump at 5-8.75 and sailed over that bar, the 5-10.75 bar and the 6-0 bar on her first try to clinch the victory. She then named the height of 6-3.50, which is the qualifying height for the European Championships, and was unable to clear it in three attempts.
The combined three league titles in the men and women’s sprint was also a UGA all-time best. Williams, who had a wind-aided 9.99 to his name before the meet, joined the sub-10 second club and was awarded his gold medal by collegiate great Christian Coleman. Williams got back on the track in the 200m final and came within .01 seconds of tying Lattany’s school record from 1979. Coleman also swept the 100m and 200m at the 2017 SEC meet.
Williams’ training partner and fellow 4x100m relay leg, junior Cejhae Greene, was fourth in the 100m final after clocking a 10.14.
Irby completed the SEC indoor-outdoor sweep of the 200m after approaching Ferguson’s 22.19 from the 1999 season.
Sophomore Jessica Drop came within one place of yet another SEC crown as she took second in the 5000m. Immediately positioning herself in the front couple runners, Drop took over the second spot as the field spread out and did not let the third-place finisher come within five seconds of her. She crossed the finish line in 16:15.30 to add eight points.
On the men’s side, junior Keenon Laine posted three first attempt clearances and finished in the top three in the high jump. Laine reached 7-3.25 as the top two finishers reached 7-4.50. Also in the high jump, freshman Antonios Merlos made his outdoor debut in the league meet with a career-best height of 7-1 to take seventh.
The Bulldog 4x100m relay team registered the fifth-best time in school history and a season-best mark of 39.33 for fourth place. Raytez Jenkins, Greene, Justes Nance and Williams combined to give the Bulldogs’ one of three different times on the UGA’s all-time top-five list over the last two seasons.
The women’s 4x100m relay team of Kate Hall, Irby, Louisa Grauvogel and Tara Davis appeared to clock a school record of 43.65 to score for the Lady Bulldogs. However, the foursome was later disqualified because of a zone violation.
In his third event, Comenentia hit a mark of 185-1 on his second attempt in the discus and managed to score another three points.
Grauvogel, who had the fourth-best heptathlon score nationally going into the weekend, added a point in the 100m hurdles by taking eighth with a time of 13.21. Her next action is expected to be at Nationals.
Those who qualify will now travel to Tampa, Fla., for the NCAA East Prelims, which run from May 24-26. The NCAA Outdoor Championships will run in Eugene, Ore., on June 6-9.
Results and recaps from the SEC Championships will be found at georgiadogs.com. News and updates from Georgia’s track and field and cross country teams are always located on Twitter/Instagram at @UGATrack.
Name Event Mark/Place
Denzel Comenentia Hammer Throw $249-1/1st
Yanely Gomez W. 10,000m 35:13.47/3rd
Denzel Comenentia M. Shot Put *68-6/1st
Karl Saluri Decathlon ^7,935/1st
Keturah Orji W. Long Jump #22-4.25/1st
Marie-Therese Obst W. Javelin *158-6/6th
Kate Hall W. Long Jump 21-2/6th
Tatiana Gusin W. High Jump 6-0/1st
Keturah Orji W. Triple Jump !47-11.75/1st
Kendal Williams M. 100m #9.99/1st
Kendal Williams M. 200m *20.15/1st
Lynna Irby W. 200m *22.25/1st
Samantha Drop W. 5000m 16:15.30/2nd
Keenon Laine M. High Jump 7-3.25/3rd
Cejhae Greene M. 100m 10.14/4th
M. 4x100m relay
Raytez Jenkins, Cejhae Greene, Justes Nance, Kendal Williams
Denzel Comenentia M. Discus 185-1/6th
Antonios Merlos M. High Jump *7-1/7th
Louisa Grauvogel W. 100mH 13.21/8th
!collegiate record; $meet record; #school record; ^season-best mark; *personal-best mark