The Georgia track and field team’s Keenon Laine was crowned SEC Champion in the high jump on Friday with a career-best clearance of 7 feet and 4 1/2 inches. The Bulldogs also featured seven scorers and set a school record during the second day of the SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
The fourth-ranked Georgia men stand in third place with 35 points and Alabama (54) has moved into the lead. The seventh-ranked Lady Bulldogs have tallied 17 points and are in sixth while Arkansas (73) is holding a significant team lead.
“Having another champion for our program is huge so I am proud of Keenon (Laine) stepping up,” said Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou. “We also had three scorers in one of our signature events, the long jump, and the thing I might be most proud about is us having finals qualifiers in the 100m, 200m, 800m and 1500m, showing that we can score other ways. Other than the scorers, I’d have to say Devon (Williams) passing the legendary Spec Towns’ record by after it stood since 1936 was monumental. I think it was another great day to be a Bulldog and I am expecting more on Saturday.”
Sophomore Keenon Laine, who finished second to teammate Darius Carbin in the high jump at the 2017 SEC indoor meet, secured his first conference crown with a career-best clearance of 7 feet, 4 ½ inches. This marks the Bulldogs’ first outdoor league title in the event since 2003 (Josh Reid, 7-0.50).
CLICK HERE for Friday’s results of the 2017 SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
On Thursday, Georgia tallied its first two SEC individual titles with sophomore Denzel Comenentia and freshman Beatrice Llano sweeping the hammer throw for the first time since Alex Poursanidis and Elizabeth Tepe accomplished the feat in 2014.
Needing a qualifying score since it was his first decathlon of 2017, junior Karl Saluri came through with the nation’s fifth-best score of 7,948 to earn runner-up honors. Saluri compiled the second-best score of his career thanks in part to five personal-best efforts. Texas A&M’s Lindon Victor topped his own collegiate record with 8,539 points to win the SEC title.
The Lady Bulldogs also started three in the long jump and all three finished in the top eight to score. Freshman Kate Hall opened with a mark of 21-10.75, which would have matched a school record had it not registered a 2.5 meter/second wind, to take fourth place.
Junior Keturah Orji, who soared to the second-longest triple jump in collegiate history last weekend, was fifth in the long jump after her top effort measured 21-1.50. She will jump in the triple jump on Saturday.
Having just qualified in the 100-meter hurdles, senior Kendell Williams started with a 20-10.75 and that was strong enough for eighth place after all six rounds were complete. Williams is also signed up for the high jump during the meet’s final day.
Freshman Louisa Grauvogel scored 5,595 in just her second collegiate heptathlon to take fifth. The Saarland, Germany, native finished her seven events with three personal records, including two in her last events of the javelin and 800m.
Ranked second in the decathlon and competing in just open events at SECs, senior Devon Williams came within two inches of his personal best in the long jump to score with an eighth-place finish.
The Bulldogs added five finals qualifiers in the meet’s second day. Junior Cejhae Greene (100m), Hall (100m), freshman Jessica Drop (1500m), Devon Williams (110m hurdles) and senior Kendell Williams (100m hurdles) all punched their tickets into Saturday’s last round. Devon Williams was responsible for the UGA record after passing a time that was run in both 1936 and 1980 by former Bulldogs.
Georgia had two more final qualifiers during the meet’s first day. Sophomore Jeramey Hampton (800m) and sophomore Kendal Williams (200m) both qualified automatically in their respective events.
In the high jump, Laine missed his first attempt of the day at 6-10.75 and never looked back to complete the Bulldog 2017 SEC sweep in the men’s high jump. The Versailles, Ky., native cleared his first height on his second try and then went over the bar on his first attempt for the next three heights.
Laine clinched the victory with a clearance of 7-3.25 and then improved to a career-best height of 7-4.50 on his second try, which ranks fifth in school history, second in the nation this year and is the best for UGA since 1996.
“Winning my first SEC title means the world to me,” said Laine. “To win this in THE hardest conference in the nation in my first SEC outdoor meet is unbelievable. For me to be able to come out here and win is like giving candy to a baby. This is what I needed and now I want to scream, cry, about every emotion.”
Devon Williams took off for an opening long jump mark of 25-3.50, which came within two inches of his career best earlier this year at the Bulldog Decathlon. That effort ended up being his only 25-foot jump of the meet and he scored one point with an eighth-place finish,
Saluri started Thursday with a personal best in the decathlon 100m and then began Friday with a personal record in the 110m hurdles to add a quick 842 points to his total. He ran a 15.06 to take seventh in the race, shaving nearly a half second off of his previous best.
During the discus, Saluri walked out on his first attempt and threw his third try into the cage. However, his second attempt traveled 135-5 to give him third place and 691 points in the dec’s seventh event.
Saluri matched his season best in the pole vault on his second try to reach a height of 15-9. This second-place performance bumped Saluri’s total up 849 points.
The fifth personal best of Saluri’s decathlon arrived in the javelin as he took third in the event. Saluri’s middle toss measured 190-10 for 710 points and gave him nearly a three hundred-point cushion ahead of the third-place competitor.
Saluri completed the second-best decathlon of his career by clocking a 4:47.57 for 633 points in the 1500m.
Grauvogel had a slow start in the heptathlon’s long jump with a pair of marks measuring less than 17-5 before reaching her top distance on her third try. She traveled 18-1.50 for 706 points and surged into fifth place overall.
Grauvogel wasted no time in the javelin and won the competition on her opening attempt for 687 points. She sent her first try 134-8, topping her previous personal best of 127-11.
Shaving three seconds off her previous personal best, Grauvogel completed her two laps in the 800m with a time of 2:22.90. This was good for 785 points and gave Grauvogel her third personal record of the meet.
Georgia also featured five qualifiers in the track prelims on Friday. Devon Williams left the field behind in the 110m hurdles with a wind-legal time of 13.52. Tied for seventh nationally, Williams surpassed Spec Towns’ hand-timed 13.7 from 1936 and Billy Richard’s 13.70 from 1980 for the school record.
Devon’s younger sister Kendell took the track after the men’s hurdles and won the 100m hurdles with a season-best time of 12.90, which also stands seventh nationally. Both Williams siblings are skipped the combined events as they are preparing for the coming NCAA Championships.
Georgia also had a qualifier in both the men’s and women’s 100m. Hall blazed to a career-best time of 11.30 to be the ninth and final qualifier and give the Lady Bulldogs’ their top time since 2004. Greene was the eighth finisher in the men’s 100m with a 10.27 and will also race in the 4x100m relay on Saturday.
Finally, Drop advanced to the 1500m finals after getting tripped in her prelim race. Drop got up and finished 22nd with a 4:38.99 and was given a spot in the finals after her collision was flagged by an official. Her twin sister Sam Drop scored in the 10,000m on Thursday night.
Also of note, redshirt freshman Jonathan Pelham crossed the steeplechase finish line in a career best 9:17.23 to take 11th at his first SEC meet.
Freshman Tairyn Montgomery will start the action for Georgia on Saturday in the women’s javelin at 11 a.m. The Bulldogs’ 4x100m relay team will start the track events at 3:15 p.m.
CLICK HERE for Saturday’s start lists for the 2017 SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The SEC Championships will air as part of a two-hour ESPNU show on Wednesday, May 17, from 8-10 p.m. ET. The broadcast talent includes Dwight Stones (play-by-play), Larry
SEC Network+ info:
Friday, May 12 (6:25 p.m. ET); LINK: http://es.pn/2pE8amy
Saturday, May 13 (3:10 p.m.); LINK: CLICK HEREhttp://es.pn/2oWXPBk
To check on live results for Georgia’s competing men and women at the SEC Championships, please visit the live results link at: http://gado.gs/7gy