TRACK & FIELD: UGA Begins Early Signing Period With Eight Additions

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TRACK & FIELD: UGA Begins Early Signing Period With Eight Additions

Petros Kyprianou
Petros Kyprianou

The Georgia track and field program has picked up eight elite signees thus far hailing from five different nations, according to an announcement from Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou.

UGA is adding four members to its men’s squad and four to its women’s team.  The men include: Nikolai Van Huyssteen (pole vault), Grant Briscoe (pole vault), Bryce McCray (400-meter hurdles) and Grigoris Nikolaou (triple jump).

Featured in the women’s group are: Bára Sajdoková (high jump), Styliana Ioannidou (high jump), Elena Kulichenko (high jump) and Payton Phillips (pole vault).





Both Nikolaou and Ioannidou are from Kyprianou’s hometown of Limassol, Cyprus.

Kulichenko will be arriving on campus in January and will be eligible for the 2021 indoor and outdoor seasons.

The signing period for all NCAA Division I sports outside of football and men and women’s basketball started on Nov. 11 and continues through Aug. 1, 2021.





Kyprianou’s Comments: “I am excited to welcome these outstanding young men and women to UGA and have them continue a storied tradition of elite recruits coming in and reaching world-class status,” said Kyprianou, who is entering his sixth season as Georgia’s head coach.  “Our quest for the NCAA Championship run has begun and this recruiting class is a great complement to last year’s class that is developing very nicely.  Our staff has done a tremendous job navigating these crazy times and assisted in signing this top-notch class. 

“Obviously, the four ladies in the vertical jumps steal the show as these marks would stand very highly at both the NCAA meet as well as on the world list.  We at UGA believe that elevating talent to world status is the essence of track and field competition.  These young men and women are ready for the challenge knowing the rich tradition we have in the jumps, throws and combined events along with a great foundation in the sprints.  Go Dawgs!”

Here is a detailed look at the newest Bulldogs:


Bára Sajdoková (Bystrice nad Olsi, Czech Republic) – Personal best of 1.91 meters/6 feet, 3 inches in the high jump…Won in Kladno with her personal best, which was a 2020 under-20 world leading mark…Posted her former personal record of 1.90m/6-2.75, which was also an u-20 world leader at the time, in Ostrava during the 2020 outdoor season before the COVID-19 pandemic…Finished first in the 2020 National Outdoor Championships with a mark of 1.90m/6.2.75…Won the 2020 U-20 National Indoor Championships with a then career-best mark of 1.88m/6-2…Earned silver at the 2020 National Indoor Championships with a clearance of 6-1.25…Aunt, Martina, and uncle, Corey, live in Orlando, Fla.

Styliana Ioannidou (Limassol, Cyprus) – Personal best of 1.84m/6-0.50 in the high jump…Set the national under-18/under-20 indoor records with a 1.82m/5-11.50 clearance at the 2020 Balkan Indoor U-20 Championships…Reached her outdoor PR (1.84m/6-0.50) to win the Cyprus National Championships in August 2020…Captured the title at the 2020 Cyprus National U-18 Championships after going over the bar at 1.79m/5-10.50 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elena Kulichenko (Odintsovo/Moscow region, Russia) – Personal best of 1.87m/6-1.50 in the high jump…After climbing to 1.84m/6-0.50 to win the 2017 Russia U-18  National Outdoor Championships, she hit a personal-best mark of 1.87m/6-1.50 for second at the 2017 European Youth Olympic Festival…Reached an indoor personal best of 1.84m/6-0.50 to earn runner-up honors at the 2019 Russia U-20 National Indoor Championships…Had a season-best mark of 1.82m/5-11.50 at the Russia U-20 National Indoor Championships to take fifth because the COVID-19 pandemic.

Payton Phillips (Carrollton, Ga.) – Personal best of 4.14m/13-7 in the pole vault…Ranked No 3 on Georgia’s all-time state high school list and her PR ranked as the nation’s fifth best in 2019 after winning the 2019 BSN Sports-Jackson Invitational…Ranked as the country’s No. 1 sophomore in 2019 and then had her 2020 season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic…Finished second at the 2019 New Balance Indoor Nationals…Captured the 2018-2019 GHSA AAAAA state titles…Established a new state meet record after capturing the 2019 title with an effort of 4.01m/13-2.25…Won the 2019 USATF Nationa Junior Olympic Championships with a mark of 4.10m/13-5.75…Named a Junior Olympic All-American after taking second in the USA Track & Field vault competition…Earned the Atlanta Track Club’s 2019 Red Smith Award for being the Outstanding Female Field Athlete…Posted a mark of 3.53m/11-7 to have the nation’s top vault at the junior high level in 2017.


Nikolai Van Huyssteen (Paarl, South Africa) – Personal best of 5.41m/17-9 in the pole vault…Cleared his personal record during the 2020 fall season…Posted a then personal best of 5.32m/17-5.50 during his third year of high school in 2019…Vaulted the highest of any youth, junior or senior South African vaulter in 2019…Took second at the 2019 South African Senior Championships…Had a 2020 season-best mark of 5.25m/17-2.745 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic…Finished second at the 2019 South Africa Under-18 Championships after clearing 5.00m/16-4.75…Had a 2019 World Youth leading mark of 5.11m/16-9.25…First South African 15-year-old to vault 5.00m/16-4.75…Won the 2018 ASA Under-18 Championships as a 10th grader…Was fifth at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Grant Briscoe (Carrollton, Ga.) – Personal best of 5.00m/16-4.50 in the pole vault…Won the 2020 Jerry Arnold Challenge with a mark of 4.72m/15-6 before the COVID-19 pandemic…Hit a mark of 4.90m/16-1 to win the 2019 Georgia Meet of Champions…Finished second (4.72m/15-6) at the 2019 GHSA AAAAA state meet and was runner-up in 2018 as well…Cleared 4.61m/15-1.50 to finish 24th at the 2019 New Balance Outdoor Championships…Also played football for the Carrollton Trojans and had a number of Division I offers.

Bryce McCray (Richmond, Texas) – Personal best of 52.36 in the 400-meter hurdles…Won the 2020 AAU National Junior Olympic Games with his personal record…Also posted the fastest 400m time of his career (48.20) at the AAU meet …Owns a personal best of 37.56 in the 300m hurdles after winning the 2020 Lamar Consolidated ISD Relays.

Grigoris Nikolaou (Limassol, Cyprus) – Personal best in the 15.65m/51-4 in the triple jump…Soared a 2020 under-18 world leading distance 15.56m/51-0.75 to win the U-18 National Outdoor Championships…Set a national U-20 record with an indoor personal best of 15.53m/50-11.50 at the 2020 Balkan Indoor U-20 Championships…Won the 2020 National Senior Championships with a triple jump mark of 15.53m/50-11.50…Finished with gold at the 2019 U-18 National Outdoor Championships after traveling 15.40m/50-6.25…Also won the 2018 U-20 National Outdoor Championships and 2017 U-18 National Outdoor Championships.





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Greg is closing in on 15 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.