The Georgia Bulldogs picked up their first individual title on day two of the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon as Kate Hall and Keturah Orji finished first and second in the women’s long jump on Thursday.
The women started their portion of the meet on Thursday and are leading with 24.2 points. Kentucky (14), Arizona State (13), Kansas (12) and Arkansas (11.2) make up the rest of the top five. Through two of four days of Nationals, the Georgia men are tied with Florida for third place with 18 points. Texas A&M (31.5) is leading while Virginia is second with 20 points.
The Lady Bulldogs put an exclamation point on the day by finishing first and second in the long jump with Kate Hall winning her first title and Keturah Orji reaching 22 feet for the first time in her career. True freshman Beatrice Llano unloaded a career-long hammer throw toss to take third and redshirt freshman Kayla Smith added .20 points to her team’s total by tying for eighth in the pole vault.
On the men’s side, senior Devon Williams scored the second-highest decathlon point total of his career to finish second in the only men’s event of the day. His training partner, junior Karl Saluri, injured himself in the day’s first event, the 110-meter hurdles, and dropped out an event later in the discus.
Georgia now has eight scorers through the first two days. On Wednesday, sophomore Denzel Comenentia complemented his fifth-place finish in the hammer throw with another fifth-place showing in the shot put. His senior teammate, Alex Poursanidis, wrapped up his four years with the Bulldogs by earning an expected First Team All-America certificate with a seventh-place finish in the hammer.
CLICK HERE for the results from day two of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
You can also follow the live results and keep ‘track’ of your Georgia Bulldogs, CLICK HERE
“Today our team members in the field events showed they are resilient and they know how to defend titles, they represent the `G’ at the highest degree,” said head coach Petros Kyprianou. “I was proud of Beatrice finishing third in the hammer for a very, very valuable six points, especially after being projected to finish seventh. The biggest highlight for us today was our 1-2 punch in the long jump with Kate Hall, a freshman, and Keturah Orji both going over 22 feet for 18 points. These are two world-class athletes showing why people want to come to Georgia. We are consistently performing at the highest level. The biggest surprise for us was Kayla in the pole vault. Her .20 points might end up being the difference in the final standings to I was fired up to see her performance.
“On the men’s side, we were hurt a little with Karl Saluri going down in the decathlon and not being able to go on. But Devon stepped up and got his eight points and the men are still alive. We have Keenon Laine going in the high jump on Friday and we feel he is a big bullet for us. It’s time for us to answer the bell again for the next two days.”
Hall, a transfer from Iowa State who was fourth at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships for UGA, wasted no time setting the tone in the long jump on Thursday. The Casco, Maine, native surpassed her own school record (21-11, set at the NCAA East Prelims two weeks ago) with a 22-11 on her first try. Hall followed that mark up with a 21-11.75 to give Georgia its second NCAA long jump title in a row (Chanice Porter, 21-10.75).
There was a pair of 22-foot jumps in the competition and the other competitor responsible for one was also a Lady Bulldog. Orji, who will be aiming for her third national triple jump title in a row on Saturday, started slowly with a best of 20-11.25 in the first three rounds. But the Mount Olive, N.J., native took off for a personal-best mark of 22-0.25 on her fourth try to nail down her third First Team All-America certificate outdoors in the event.
This marks the first time in history that a school has finished first and second in the women’s long jump in history. Hall is the first freshman to win the event since 1991.
To start the second day of the decathlon, Williams was at a personal-best mark of 4,354 and was trailing the leader by 86. When all 10 events were complete, he scored 8,181 to finish behind Texas A&M’s Lindon Victor (8,390) and ahead of Minnesota’s Luca Wieland (8,146). Williams was ninth at the 2016 NCAA Championships after having to pull out of the 2015 meet with an injury.
Williams blasted to the overall lead by winning the 110m hurdles with the second-fastest time of his dec career. Williams was the only competitor to break 14 seconds with a 13.87 to score 991 points and moved into the top spot by six points over Wieland.
Williams gradually improved in the discus and finished ninth in the event for 679 points. Following a foul, Williams went 115-4 on his second try and moved up to 133-7 on his final attempt.
Passing until 14-1.75, Williams missed his first try at the height and then posted clearances at five different heights to finish with a personal best. Williams scored 822 points in the event after reaching a career-high mark of 15-5.50 on his third and final try. After one miss at a season-best height of 15-1.50, Williams was delayed 20 minutes after Colorado State’s Hunter Price sustained an injury on his takeoff and medical personnel attended to him. Williams returned and cleared 15-1.50 on his next try after the delay.
Williams came out of the gate in the javelin with a toss of 184-8, which would have been good for eighth in the event. He worked up to a final throw of 187-2 to score 693 points and finish seventh in the javelin. Williams wrapped up his ninth event trailing Victor by 266 points and in second place.
With both Wieland and Michigan’s Steven Bastien hovering in striking distance, Williams kept an even pace in the 1500m and took 13th in the event with a 4:46.11 for 642 points. This locked down the first scoring spot and First Team All-America certificate of his career outdoors.
Saluri started his second day by running a 15.55 in the 110m hurdles for 784 points. This kept him in scoring position, situating him in eighth place going into the seventh event.
In the next event, Saluri took one discus attempt and then passed on his final two tries. A knee injury sustained during the hurdles forced Saluri to skip his last two discus throws and bow out of the overall competition.
Redshirt freshman Kayla Smith pushed the Lady Bulldogs’ total up .20 points by being part of a five-way tie for eighth place in the pole vault. The Indianapolis, Ind., native soared over the bar at 13-1.50 and 13-7.25 on her first try. In Smith’s sixth career outdoor collegiate meet, she finished with the second-best mark of her UGA career for expected First Team All-America honors.
Senior Kendell Williams, the two-time NCAA heptathlon champion and three-time First Team All-American in the event and freshman Louisa Grauvogel start their first event in the heptathlon (100m hurdles) at 3:30 p.m. ET on Friday. The heptathletes will complete the first four events on Friday and the final three on Saturday.
Sophomore Keenon Laine is the only other Bulldog who will be in action on Friday. He high jumps at 8 p.m.