Junior Karel Tilga scored the most points of his career through five events in the decathlon and Georgia had three finals qualifiers during day one of the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., on Wednesday.
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.
In the multi-events, Tilga came into the meet as the national leader and solidified that ranking through the first day of action by scoring a day one personal best of 4,384 points. His performance featured four combined event personal records and gave him a 124-point edge of Michigan’s Ayden Owens headed into Thursday.
Unlike their teammates, Tilga and graduate transfer heptathlete Asya Reynolds, who starts her two-day competition on Friday, advanced to the NCAA Championships from their national rankings and did not have to compete at the NCAA East Prelims two weeks ago.
Three Bulldog entries also qualified for running finals on Wednesday. The Bulldog quartet of Arian Smith, Elija Godwin, Delano Dunkley and Matthew Boling started the qualifying by speeding to a finish of 38.95 in the 4×100-meter relay.
Boling returned in the 100m semifinal and clocked a wind-legal (2.0 meters/second or less) career best to be the fastest time qualifier. An hour later, Boling stepped back on the track and qualified automatically in the 200m by taking second in his heat.
When Do The Bulldogs Start Day 2: Tilga is scheduled to start day two in the decathlon 110m hurdles at 12:30 p.m. ET and the discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500m will follow.
Senior Kayla Smith is the first Lady Bulldog to compete (pole vault) on Thursday at 7 p.m. Georgia’s first event on the track during day two will be senior Amber Tanner running in the 800m semifinal at 8:14 p.m.
Where To Catch The NCAAs: ESPN has exclusive rights to broadcast the meet and will feature the Nationals on a variety of platforms:
Thursday: 12:30-10 p.m., ESPN3; 6:30-10 p.m., ESPN2
Friday: 3-10:30 p.m., ESPN3; 8-10:30 p.m., ESPN2
Saturday: 2-8:30 p.m., ESPN3; 6-8:30 p.m., ESPNU
Live Results:To check out live results throughout the four-day season finale, please check: http://gado.gs/75t
The Lowdown: The Bulldogs also had three qualifiers on Wednesday. Smith, Godwin, Dunkley and Boling were the first to advance to Friday’s competition in the 4x100m relay. The foursome registered the second finish under 39 seconds in school history with a 38.95 to take third in their heat and fifth overall to be the top time qualifier.
Georgia will race in the 4x100m relay final on Friday at 8:02 p.m.
With rain showers passing through the area, Boling returned to a wet track in the 100m semifinal and left with the fifth-best time in school history. His 10.15 came as he finished third in his heat and fifth overall with the top non-automatic qualifying time.
The 100m final will arrive for Boling on Friday at 8:52 p.m.
Four races after his 100m, Boling returned as the sun did as well and registered a 20.28 in the 200m to take fifth overall with the second-fastest time in his group. This gives Boling a third race on Friday as the 200m final will be run at 9:37 p.m.
Tilga shot out of the startling blocks for a personal best in the 100m to start his first five events in the decathlon. The Tartu, Estonia, native scored 874 points to tie for fifth to begin the competition. Tilga surged into the overall lead by six points by winning the long jump. His second try measured 24 feet, 7 ¾ inches to tally 937 points in the second event.
Tilga collected his second personal record of the day in the shot put to take second in the event and score 820 points. He lifted his first try 50-10 and was up 59 points in the nearest competitor headed into the high jump.
Tilga locked down his second victory in the high jump thanks to a pair of third attempt clearances to close out the high jump. He topped out by matching his personal record from this year’s Spec Towns Invitational with a mark of 6-10.75 for 896 points. This put him 168 points ahead of Iowa’s Will Daniels with the day’s conclusion, the 400m, awaiting him.
In the day one finale for the decathletes, Tilga won his heat and was fourth overall with yet another personal best, this time in the 400m. He finished the lap in 49.10 to distance himself 29 points from his previous day one personal best.
Sophomore Caleb Cavanaugh took off in the opening heat of the 400m hurdle semifinal and left the track with the fastest time of his career and the only personal best out of the entire event. Cavanaugh bettered his No. 6 time in UGA history with the fastest finish for the Bulldogs since 2015. His 50.59 earned him 14th place in his Nationals debut.
Godwin also ran in the 400m semifinal and missed the final round by two spots. The Covington, Ga., native was fourth in his heat and 11th overall after completing his lap in 46.18.
During the 100m semifinalist, Smith ran in just his fifth collegiate race at the distance and registered a wind-legal personal record of 10.39. This gave the Bulldog receiver a 17th-place finish in the event with the top nine making the final.
Junior Alencar Pereira, who is in his first year at Georgia after transferring from Nebraska, had the second-best performance of his Bulldog career to take 20th. Opening with a toss of 220-8, Pereira completed his series with a mark of 222-6.
How To Keep Up With The Dogs: Results and recaps from the NCAA Outdoor 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.
Bulldog Day 1 Qualifiers
NameEventMark/Time – Place
Men’s 4x100m relay 38.95 – 5th
Arian Smith, Elija Godwin, Delano Dunkley, Matthew Boling
Matthew Boling 100m *10.15 – 5th
Matthew Boling 200m 20.28 – 5th
Decathlon Day 1
Karel Tilga *10.94 24-7.75 *50-10 *6-10.75 *49.10 *4,384
*personal best; ^seasonal best