KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Bulldog program added another trio of individual champions to highlight their day at the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday.
Following the second of three days, both Georgia teams are in fifth place. The Lady Bulldogs have scored 22 and have Ole Miss (50), Texas A&M (42) and Florida (37) in their top three. The Georgia men have tallied 30 and have Arkansas (39), Texas A&M (35) and Florida (34) sitting ahead of them in the top three.
Junior Denzel Comenentia battled South Carolina’s Josh Awotunde for Comenentia’s second SEC outdoor shot put title in a row with a personal-best mark of 68 feet, 6 inches. In fact, Comenentia effort, which is No. 2 on Georgia’s all-time list (best since 1995) and No. 2 on the current national list, made him only the second league competitor in history to win back-to-back conference crowns in both the shot put and hammer throw (Auburn’s Cory Martin, 2007-08).
The Bulldogs’ second championship of the day and third of the weekend came in the decathlon, an event that they have now won four times in the last six years. Senior Karl Saluri completed his conference career by winning his first league crown by 33 points at 7,934 after coming back in the 10th and final event. Saluri had two personal bests and three other seasonal bests to advance to his third NCAA Championships in a row.
As she has seven times before in her career, senior Keturah Orji locked down yet another SEC individual title, this time in the long jump, which is a first for her. The Mount Olive, N.J., native posted a UGA record and NCAA leading mark of 22-4.25 on her third attempt to add 10 points to the Lady Bulldogs’ total.
Georgia also added five qualifiers during the second day of action. The Bulldogs had a total of two finals qualifiers in the men and women’s 200-meter dash races on Friday.
The meet’s final day on Sunday begins with senior Tatiana Gusin, who is the national leader, and junior Mary Terry in the women’s high jump at 2:30 p.m. The first Georgia men on the track will be the 4x100m relay team at 6:10 p.m.
“The usual suspects answered the call and stepped up today to win SEC titles,” said third-year head coach Petros Kyprianou. “Those are three special performers and three special titles so I am really proud of what they accomplished today. We had some good things happen today and some things happen that I believe we can work on. But overall, I was happy about the performances and hope we can finish strong on Sunday and stay healthy as we get ready for the main part of the postseason.”
Following an indoor season that saw Awotunde best Comenentia for the SEC shot put championship, Comenentia tangled with the Gamecock senior again outdoors. Comenentia (64-10.75) slipped behind Awotunde (65-3.50) in the second round and then fell farther behind in the third round (65-3.50 to 67-0.50).
However, Comenentia retook the lead with an effort of 67-6.75 in the fourth round. The Amsterdam, Netherlands, native left no doubt in the last round of throws with a massive toss of 68-6 to top Awotunde, who went a Gamecock record distance of 68-1.75 on his final try.
Comenentia started the men’s scoring by recording his second straight SEC hammer title with a meet record of 249-1 on Friday. He now has six total SEC crowns combined from his victories in the hammer, shot put and weight throw indoors and outdoors. Comenentia is scheduled to compete in a third event, the discus, on Sunday at 6:45 p.m.
Orji, who completed her series with an almost an impressive effort of 22-3, took the lead after her first long jump try at 21-6. Florida’s Yanis David was able to momentarily take the lead with a second attempt of 21-10.75. But Orji countered with her personal record to be the only competitor passing the 22-foot mark. She later passed on her fifth attempt and then flew to a mark of 22-3 to highlight her victory.
Junior Kate Hall, who is the defending NCAA indoor and outdoor champion in the long jump, took sixth on Saturday after reaching 21-2. Hall’s jumps were quickened since she had to run the 100m prelims at the same time. She ran the exact same time as 2017 with an 11.30 and missed on the final by three spots.
Orji and David return to the sand pit on Sunday for the women’s triple jump at 3 p.m.
On Friday, Saluri won three decathlon events and picked up a pair of season bests to hold a 96-point edge on Arkansas’ Gabe Moore. On Saturday, Saluri closed the competition out just as his countryman and former Bulldog teammate Maicel Uibo did several years before.
Saluri began his second and final day of competition by collecting his first personal record of the weekend in the 110m hurdles. He finished second in the event with a 14.82, which gave him an 80-point edge heading into the discus. During the seventh event, Saluri reached a season-best mark of 134-8 to take third in the event. However, Moore had a top throw that measured 158-4 to win and took the overall lead by 69 points.
In the pole vault, Saluri managed a seventh-place finish after a second attempt clearance at 14-1.25. He remained in second place by 127 points following the eighth of 10 events. Needing a boost before the final event, Saluri came through with what would have been a trio of season bests in the javelin, capping his performance off with a personal record of 195-9. This trimmed his deficit to 97 points going into the 1500m.
Striving for 7,850 points to qualify for the European Championships, Saluri wrapped up his final four laps in 4:35.30 to take second in the event and hitting the aforementioned mark. He needed to top Moore by 17 seconds and the Estonia native beat him by 21 seconds. Saluri becomes the first Bulldog SEC decathlon champion since Uibo won his third straight in 2015.
Freshman Marie-Therese Obst hit a personal-best third throw of 158-6 to score sixth in the javelin. Startling with a toss of 144 feet, Obst improved to 158-6, which bettered her No. 10 spot in the school record books, and added three more points to Georgia’s total.
Sophomore Louisa Grauvogel, who had the fourth-best heptathlon score nationally going into the weekend, competed in the open 100m hurdles and was the seventh qualifier for the final. She registered a career-best time of 13.12, which betters her No. 5 time in the school record books. Grauvogel will now race in the event’s final on Sunday at 6:40 p.m.
Junior Kendal Williams left the track with the fastest 100m qualifying time and advanced to his second final of the weekend. He sped to a 10.08, which is the second-fastest time of his Bulldog career. Williams will race in the 100m final at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday. He matched his Bulldog best of 20.30 to advance to the 200m final on the meet’s first day.
Georgia added a second qualifier in the 100m as Williams’ senior teammate Cejhae Greene secured the eighth spot. Greene was second in Williams’ heat with a 10.31.
In the men’s 1500m qualifying, seniors Bryan Kamau and Henry Dwyer finished within .14 seconds of each other in the same heat to qualify for the final. Kamau ran a 3:47.67 and finished with the 10th-fastest qualifying time while Dwyer was a shoulder behind him with a 3:47.81. A collision in the second heat resulted in a total of 20 qualifiers for Sunday’s final at 6:30 p.m.
Results and recaps from the SEC 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.
Name Event Mark/Place
Denzel Comenentia Hammer Throw $249-1/1st
Yanely Gomez W. 10,000m 35:13.47/3rd
Denzel Comenentia M. Shot Put *68-6/1st
Karl Saluri Decathlon ^7,935/1st
Keturah Orji W. Long Jump #22-4.25/1st
Marie-Therese Obst W. Javelin *158-6/6th
Kate Hall W. Long Jump 21-2/6th
$meet record; #school record
Georgia’s Friday Qualifiers
Name Event Mark/Place
Lynna Irby W. 200m *22.44/2nd
Kendal Williams M. 200m ^20.30/6th
Kendal Williams M. 100m ^10.08/1st
Louisa Grauvogel W. 100mH *13.12/7th
Cejhae Greene M. 100m 10.31/8th
Bryan Kamau M. 1500m 3:47.67/10th
Henry Dwyer M. 1500m 3:47.81/11th
^season-best mark; *personal-best mark
Decathlon – Results
100m Long Jump Shot Put High Jump 400m Day 1
Karl Saluri ^10.52 24-9 ^46-0.75 6-0.75 48.52 4,200 pts.
110mH Discus Pole Vault Javelin 1500m TOTAL
*14.82 ^134-8 14-1.25 *195-9 4:30.35 7,934 pts.