Georgia’s Denzel Comenentia scored a total of 12 points in his first two events to jumpstart the Bulldogs’ scoring at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday.
With the Bulldogs competing at outdoor Nationals on the University of Texas campus for the first time since 2004, Comenentia (hammer throw, shot put) scored for the Bulldogs to earn an expected two First Team All-America certificates on the first day of competition.
Sophomore Johannes Erm posted a personal-best decathlon score to take third at the 2018 Nationals to help the Bulldogs secure their first NCAA team title. This year through the first day, Erm is leading the competition by 79 points over Stanford’s Harrison Williams after Erm tallied a day one personal best 4,345 points through five events.
The Georgia men have scored 12 points and are in fourth place with Mississippi State (24), BYU (21) and LSU (18) making up the top three spots. The women’s portion of the meet begins on Thursday.
On Thursday, Erm will complete the final five events of the decathlon (110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, 1500m) starting at 2 p.m. ET. Three Lady Bulldogs in three individual events are slated to compete starting with junior Kayla Smith in the pole vault at 8:30 p.m.
“Overall, today was a very solid day for the Bulldogs,” said head coach Petros Kyprianou. “Denzel stepped up and showed yet again he is a leader for this team by scoring in two events on a hot, humid day in Texas. He has one more event in the discus and we are excited to see what he can do with no pressure on him. Michael Nicholls gave all he could and matched his personal best. Even though he didn’t make the final, he did as I had advised the team: equal your best this season or set a personal best and good things will usually happen here. Johannes has had a spectacular start to the meet and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the week holds for him and the rest of the Bulldog competitors.”
To close Wednesday’s competition, Comenentia put together a super solid series in the shot put to boost Georgia’s point total by eight points. Fifth in 2017 and the winner last year, Comenentia improved on his second, third and fourth throws on Wednesday and topped out at a distance of 68 feet, 1 ¾ inches. His series featured all fair throws with five over 66-5.
Comenentia started the day by scoring for the third consecutive year in the hammer throw. Starting with two fouls, he avoided fouling out and advanced to the final with a throw of 239-3 that briefly gave him the lead. Comenentia did not have a fair throw in the final round of three attempts and put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard with four points.
Comenentia will return to the discus ring on Friday at 8:05 p.m. to try and score in a third event.
With rain steadily falling to start the decathlon, Erm rocketed out of the starting blocks in the 100m for a season-best time of 10.88 to win his heat. Off just .02 from his personal record set at last year’s meet, Erm scored 888 points and was in fifth place after the opening event.
Erm wasted little time making his presence known in the long jump, registering a winning mark of 25-4 on his first try. Going shorter on his second attempt and passing on his third, his season best scored him 990 points and put him in the overall lead by 66 points with 1,878. This marked the first event win for Erm during his two NCAA Outdoor Championships so far.
Following a pair of season bests in the first two events, Erm responded with a personal record in the shot put to hold onto the lead by 53 points. He started with a career-long toss of 47-2.50 before following that up with the longest throw of his career at 48-2.50 for 771 points.
Erm cleared three bars in the high jump, including a season-best mark of 6-4.75, before retiring in the event to rest and prepare for the fifth and final event of the day. He scored 758 points with his showing and was in the lead by 26 points going into the 400m.
Coming into with a season best at 49 seconds and a career best at 48 seconds in the 400m, Erm wrapped up his first day with his second personal record of the competition. He was third overall in the 400m after clocking a 47.40 to add 938 to his total. This gave him a 79-point cushion headed into Thursday’s final five events.
Senior Michael Nicholls came within two spots and .07 seconds of qualifying for the 110m hurdle final. A 2018 First Team All-American indoors in the 60m hurdles, he equaled his personal best with a 13.61 to take fourth in his heat and 10thoverall on Wednesday. Nicholls’ time matched his 13.61 from the NCAA East Prelims two weeks ago and his 10th-place finish was the same as his finish in the 60m hurdle prelims at the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships.