Starting their indoor season at the beginning of December 2015, Georgia’s track and field teams have finally arrived at the outdoor postseason with the SEC Championships beginning in Tuscaloosa, Ala., today.
Senior Maicel Uibo, who is the three-time defending decathlon champion, and junior Devon Williams open the meet in the decathlon’s first event (100-meter dash) at 11:30 a.m. ET on Thursday. The first open event is the women’s 800m prelim at 2 p.m. while the field events begin with the women’s hammer throw at 5 p.m. on the first day.
The SEC meet continues on Friday morning at 10 a.m. and then starts back on Saturday at 12 p.m.
Where Can The SEC Championships Be Seen: Live coverage of the meet will air on SEC Network + on Friday and Saturday. The coverage will air from 7:30 p.m.-11:05 p.m. on Friday (http://es.pn/24GyX0u) and then from 4 p.m.-7:50 p.m. on Saturday (http://es.pn/21OutzL).
ESPN2 will air the SEC Championships as part of a two-hour show on Sunday, May 15 (http://es.pn/1YhOzAm) beginning at 3 p.m. The broadcast talent includes Dwight Stones (play-by-play), Larry Rawson and Jill Montgomery (analysts) and John Anderson (reporter).
Where Are They Ranked: The Bulldog men enter the meet at the No. 6 spot in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll while the Lady Bulldogs are No. 11 in this week’s rankings.
The conference meet will be featuring a majority of the nation’s top squads. Six of the top 10 teams, including the top four, and eight of the country’s top 25 on the men’s side are SEC squads. For the women, 10 of the top 25 teams, including five in the top 10, hail from Georgia’s league.
What Bulldogs Are Traveling: For the Lady Bulldogs, senior Shelby Ashe, junior Asianna Covington, senior Leontia Kallenou, freshman Aliyah Johnson, sophomore Keturah Orji, senior Chanice Porter, sophomore Emily Savage, junior Georgia Stefanidi, senior Ashley Henry, freshman Hayden Merrick, senior Freya Jones, senior Torrenzia Lyles, senior Brooke Koblitz, sophomore Mady Fagan, sophomore Katie Stone, sophomore Devon Artis, sophomore Addy Lippitt, freshman Kingsley Green, freshman Mary Terry, sophomore Morgan Ainslie and junior Kendell Williams will be representing on the Tide’s track.
On the men’s side, senior Ashinia Miller, freshman Denzel Comenentia, junior Maurice Freeman, junior Ayrian Evans, junior Reggie Glover, sophomore Raytez Jenkins, senior Jon Okoye, senior Jamario Calhoun, senior Zack Sims, senior Steven Spevacek, freshman Jeramey Hampton, sophomore Bryan Kamau, senior Kisean Smith, senior Christian Harrison, junior Devon Williams, sophomore Karl Saluri, junior Alex Poursanidis, senior Sid Vaughn, senior Jimmy Hicks, sophomore Jon Moses and senior Maicel Uibo will be competing at the Sam Bailey Track & Field Stadium for Georgia.
Kyprianou’s Comments: “The team is ready for the postseason and I think everyone knows where they should be at this point in the year,” said Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou. “Knock on wood, pretty much everyone is healthy. We have a few people who are redshirting, resting or not doing their top events so we can have the most success possible in Eugene, Ore. (NCAA Championships, June 8-11). We are going to try and do our best and get through the SEC Championships, which are truly a preview of Nationals with the country’s best competing, make sure we are sharp and healthy going into the NCAA Championship rounds.
“This week we have focused on resting and maintaining the levels we have reached. We are coming off a hard finals week and everyone is mentally tired. But at the same time, they should feel a little fresh physically since we took it a little easy on them. They are excited to get to the Championship portion of the season and showcase their talents.”
Bulldogs At The Top Of The National Ranks: There are two weeks before the NCAA Prelims begin in Jacksonville for the teams from the East and in Lawrence, Kan., for the teams from the West. The top 48 in each region advance to each of the Prelims in the individual events and the top 24 advance to the East and West meets in the relays. In addition, the top 24 combined event student-athletes nationally are allowed to skip the Prelims and advance directly to the NCAA Championships.
Here are the Bulldog men and Georgia women who are currently ranked in the top eight scoring spots nationally:
Karl Saluri (decathlon – 1st – 8,108 pts.), Keturah Orji (triple jump – 1st – 46 feet, 3 ½ inches), Devon Williams (decathlon – 4th – 7,928 pts.), Mady Fagan (high jump – T-4th – 6-1.25), Shelby Ashe (hammer throw – 4th – 216-8), Alex Poursanidis (hammer throw – 5th – 229-11), Kendell Williams (heptathlon – 5th – 5,957), Ashinia Miller (shot put – 7th – 65-1.50)
Saving Up For Nationals: Two of the competitors listed above who are ranked in the country’s top five in the multi-events will not be knocking out the decathlon and heptathlon this weekend. Saluri, who punched his ticket to the 2016 Olympics for his native Estonia thanks to his national leading score earlier this year at the Bulldog Decathlon in Athens, will only long jump and run the 400m at SECs.
Kendell Williams, who won the 2014 SEC heptathlon title and was second at last year’s NCAA meet, is scheduled to long jump and run the 100m hurdles only this weekend. In addition, Porter, who has advanced to the last two NCAA Championships in both the long and high jumps and is a five-time All-American in the long, will concentrate on long jumping this postseason.
FLASHBACK: 2015 SEC Outdoor Championships (Starkville, Miss.): The Georgia men finished fifth with 71.50 points and the Lady Bulldogs were sixth after tallying 64 points on Mississippi State’s campus last May. Georgia combined to have three individual champions as Alex Poursanidis won his second straight hammer throw title, Keturah Orji completed the 2016 league sweep in the triple jump with a meet record mark (46-4.25) and Maicel Uibo scored a meet record 8,326 points to win his third consecutive decathlon crown (Note: Uibo has not finished a decathlon this season and has to qualify for Nationals at this weekend’s SEC meet).
The Bulldogs featured a combined 24 scorers at the 2015 meet. The UGA men watched 14 competitors in the red and black score last year, highlighted by Drew Branch’s runner-up finish in the 400m hurdles with a personal-best time (49.53) and Nick Vena’s second-place finish in the shot put. Branch and Vena were both seniors in 2015. The Georgia women had 10 scorers, including Leontia Kallenou’s runner-up finish in the high jump with a massive mark of 6-4 and Freya Jones’ second-place finish in the javelin with her third placing of third or better in as many years.
Also of note, Uibo had a meet record showing of 7-1.75 to win the decathlon high jump and departed senior Quintunya Chapman set a meet record with a top shot put effort of 47-6.25 to finish fourth overall in the heptathlon.