Track & Field: Georgia Women Win National Championship

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Track & Field: Georgia Women Win National Championship

Keturah Orji
Keturah Orji
Photo: Greg Poole/Bulldawg Illustrated


COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Georgia women’s track and field team earned UGA its first team national championship at the NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas, on Saturday.


Powered by two national individual champions and nine scorers, the Lady Bulldogs tallied a program record 61 points to finish in front of Arkansas (49), Kentucky (34) and Florida (32) in the team standings.  This marks Georgia’s fifth straight top-three finish at the NCAA indoor meet, including the team’s runner-up finish in 2017.


This is the 43rd overall team titles for the University of Georgia Athletic Association, including the 30th by one of the Georgia women’s teams and the first for any team since women’s swimming and diving title in 2016.


The Georgia men completed the meet with their second-best point total in history (32, trailing their 35.5 from 2017) to take xx.  Xx (xx), xx (xx) and xx (xx) were the top three finishers.


Becoming just the second competitor in history to win three NCAA indoor women’s triple jump titles, senior Keturah Orji highlighted the day by traveling the eighth-longest distance in collegiate history of 46 feet, 10 inches to give Georgia its second NCAA individual title of the meet.


The Bulldogs had 13 more scorers on Saturday:

–       Junior Denzel Comenentia scored in his second event of the weekend, taking sixth in the weight throw.

–       Freshman Johannes Erm and senior Karl Saluri combined to score seven points in the heptathlon.

–       Senior Cejhae Greene and junior Kendal Williams sped to top-seven finishes in the 60m.

–       Another Bulldog pair, junior Keenon Laine and sophomore Darius Carbin, were back-to-back finishers in the high jump to finish in the top eight.

–       Junior Kate Hall scored in her second event after flying across the line in the women’s 60m.

–       Junior Michael Nicholls passed the competition by to score in the 60m hurdles.

–       Freshman Tara Davis distinguished herself as a double scorer after scoring in the 60m hurdles in the meet’s second day.

–       Freshman Lynna Irby clocked the second-best time of her career to add points in the 400m.

–       Orji now owns all of the top eight marks on the collegiate all-time list with her win in the triple jump.

–       Irby set up in the sixth lane of the 200m final and gave the Lady Bulldogs’ extra cushion with a top-three finish in her second final.

Hall was the first Georgia team member to win a 2018 NCAA individual title after leading the charge on a historic 1-2-3 finish in the women’s long jump. In addition, Orji and Davis (long jump), Comenentia (shot put), sophomore Louisa Grauvogel (pentathlon) and sophomore Jessica Drop (5000m) all finished in one of the top eight scoring spots to score on Friday.

There were also a number of school records that fell.  Irby topped her own school record in the 200m during the final, trimming .11 off her top time in Georgia’s last event of the meet.  During Friday’s action, Hall set a school record in the long jump and 60m, Davis topped her own UGA record in the 60m hurdles and Irby matched her previous Lady Bulldog all-time No. 1 time in the 200m.  Also of note, Hall’s 7.98 in the 60m hurdle semifinalist topped the World Junior record.


Orji, a native of Mount Olive, N.J., opened the triple jump with a mark of 45-6.25 to immediately take the lead.  However, Florida’s Yanis David, who also took a brief lead at the SEC Championships, went ahead in the third round with a mark of 45-10.  Orji then responded with a mark of 46-4.25 on her third try and improved to a 46-10 on her fourth attempt to secure her sixth NCAA title (third indoors).

Orji’s winning effort bested the previous meet record of 46-9 set by LSU’s Suzette Lee in 1997 and gave her the eighth-best mark in collegiate history.  In fact, Orji now owns all of the top eight marks in collegiate history.

UGA long jumper Kate Hall (6)
UGA long jumper Kate Hall (6)

WOMEN’S 200m

Irby boosted her team’s lead in the 200m final, scoring the Lady Bulldogs’ final six points with a third-place finish.  Coming out of the second group, Irby finished second with a school record time of 22.55, which bettered the 22.66 she had already registered twice in 2018.  Harvard’s Gabrielle Thomas won Irby’s heat with a collegiate record time of 22.38 and Irby’s time bested Kentucky freshman Sydney McLaughlin (22.80, first heat) for runner-up honors.

WOMEN’s 400m

Another six points came from Georgia’s freshman from Indianapolis, Ind., native in the 400m.  Irby ran out of the first group and flew to her second-fastest time in history of 50.87 to take second in her heat and third overall.  The winner of Irby’s group, USC’s Kendall Ellis, proved victorious with a collegiate record time of 50.34.

MEN’S 60m

Greene and Williams, who are competing for the second year with the Bulldogs after transferring from Florida State, managed fourth and seventh-place finishes in the 60m final.  Greene became an expected First Team All-American for the first time after equaling his personal best (6.61) while Williams collected his second certificate in as many years after shooting across the line in 6.65.


Hall started the meet with school records in both the 60m and the long jump and the first NCAA indoor long jump title for the program since 2004.  The Casco, Maine, native ended the two-day meet by finishing sixth in the 60m with a 7.24 for three more points.  LSU’s Aleia Hobbs picked up top honors with a collegiate record finish of 7.07.


Comenentia upped his point output to 13 points with a sixth-place finish in the weight throw.  He made his finish interesting after fouling on his first two tries and coming back with his top effort of 73-8 on his third throw in qualifying.  Comenentia did not improve in his final three tosses and delivered the Bulldogs’ another three points.


The men’s high jump looked similar to the Bulldogs’ 2017 finish as both Laine and Carbin cleared enough bars to finish in the top eight spots.  Pushed to his final attempt at 7-0.50, Laine went over the bar at that height and then hit 7-2.50 on his first try to finish sixth.  Carbin was perfect through the first two rounds and then lifted his 6-foot-6 frame over at 7-2.50 on his third and final attempt to take seventh.


A day after setting a World Junior (under-20) record in the 60m hurdles, Davis lined up in the event’s final and took sixth on Saturday.  She sped to an 8.14 to be the top freshman finisher.

MEN’S 60mH

Only arriving in Athens to start the spring semester in January, Nicholls, who transferred from the University of New Orleans, arrived in College Station with the country’s 14th-best time in the 60m hurdles.  Nicholls got on the Bulldogs’ bus as the seventh-place finisher after matching his time in the semifinals of 7.77.  This marks Georgia’s first scoring finish in the event.


In the heptathlon, Erm moved to fifth in the school record books with six personal records to take fourth with 5,988 points.  Saluri battled for a personal best in the final event to jump from ninth to seventh with 5,781 points.  His move helped ultimately allow the Bulldogs to pass Virginia Tech in the final standings.

Posting four consecutive personal records to start the heptathlon on Friday, the 10th-seeded Erm was seventh with a day one personal best of 3,322 on Friday.  Saluri, who is returning from a back injury sustained at the SEC meet two weeks ago, started Saturday’s competition in 10th place with 3,206 points.

Erm began day two by running an 8.38 in the 60m hurdles to stay seventh.  He returned to action in the pole vault and drilled his fifth personal record with a clearance of 16-3.25.  Erm went into the competition’s final event in fourth place by 378 points.

Thanks in part to a personal record in the 1000m, Erm locked down his fourth-place finish and finished with the most points of his life.  He ran his five laps in 2:39.45 to stay 54 points ahead of fifth place.

Saluri started his second day with a season-best time of 8.41 in the 60m hurdles.  He moved from 10th to ninth in the overall standings going into the final two events.  In the pole vault, Saluri was pushed to his third attempt and cleared 14-11.50 for his sole height.  He was in ninth going into the 1000m, trailing the eighth-place spot by 10 points.

During the final event of his indoor collegiate career, Saluri took off in the 1000m and ran a career-best time to slide into the scoring spot of seventh place.  He and Erm stayed with the front pack and he was third overall in the race with a 2:36.23 to pass eighth place by 23 points.

Georgia will return to action to start the outdoor season on March 16-17 in Atlanta at the Yellow Jacket Invitational.





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