TXF: NCAA Outdoor Championships Begin Today – UGA Men To Defend Title

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TXF: NCAA Outdoor Championships Begin Today – UGA Men To Defend Title

Petros Kyprianou
Petros Kyprianou

 The Bulldog track and field program traveled to Austin, Texas, on Monday before the NCAA Outdoor Championships arrive at the Myers Stadium on Wednesday through Saturday.

The 13th-ranked Bulldog men begin the meet as the defending NCAA champions while the 23rd-ranked Lady Bulldogs come to the University of Texas campus as the runner-up at the last two outdoor Nationals.  

Georgia qualified 10 individuals in a combined 12 events at the NCAA East Prelims in Jacksonville, Fla., on May 23-25.  Sophomore decathlete Johannes Erm and freshman heptathlete Sterling Lester had already qualified automatically for the final round because of their earlier scores in the combined events.

When Do The Bulldogs Start Competition?Erm will start the meet for the Bulldogs in the decathlon’s first event (100-meter dash) at 3:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday.  The Tallinn, Estonia, native will complete four more events (long jump, shot put, high jump, 400m) on the first day before wrapping up the final five on Thursday.

Senior Denzel Comenentia begins the open events for the Bulldogs in the men’s hammer throw at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Comenentia will also throw the shot put at 9:40 p.m. on the first day.  Junior Kayla Smith is the first Lady Bulldog to compete (pole vault) on Thursday at 8:30 p.m.  

Other than the decathlon running Wednesday-Thursday and the heptathlon going Friday-Saturday, the meet is set up to be a men’s competition on Wednesday and Friday with the team champion crowned that night and a women’s competition on Thursday and Saturday with the team champion earning their trophy to conclude the meet.

Where To Catch The NCAA Championships: ESPN has exclusive rights to broadcast the meet and will feature the Nationals on a variety of platforms:

*Wednesday: 7:30 p.m. – 11 p.m., ESPN2; 3:30 p.m. – 11 p.m. – ESPN3

*Thursday: 8 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., ESPNU; 2 p.m. – 10:45 p.m., ESPN3

*Friday: 8:30 p.m. – 11 p.m., ESPN; 3:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., ESPN3

*Saturday: 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m., ESPN2; 2:30 p.m. – 8:15 p.m., ESPN3

*tentative schedule

Live Results:To check out live results throughout the four-day season finale, please check: gado.gs/2u0

Kyprianou’s Comments: “Our young men and women are excited to enter the gates of the ‘postseason heaven,’ as in the NCAA finals site!” said fourth-year head coach Petros Kyprianou.  “We are young but hungry and in pursuit of greatness at the highest level possible at this meet and in our sport.  The men have obviously a little more veteran horsepower than the women but overall the young ones have been performing very well.  All I would like to see from everyone, including staff, student-athletes and support staff, is peak energy as we are preparing for battle.

“We have been searching for consistency and it seems we have gotten much better while in the postseason.  This is the championship season, the meet for the ‘thoroughbred’ athletes who don’t crumble in high level competition, the meet for the athletes who dare to be great in the heat, literally and figuratively, of the battle.  I’m super excited as I strongly believe that the top-level athletes and coaches thrive in the moment when the moment is not as comfortable as it is for average competitors.  Our crew is a rare breed that is out to find greatness, and it starts this week in Austin.  Go Dawgs!”

Jessica Drop
  (Photo by Kristin M. Bradshaw)
Jessica Drop
 (Photo by Kristin M. Bradshaw)

What Bulldogs Are Competing: For the women, juniors Amber Tanner (800m), Jessica Drop (5000m), Smith (pole vault), sophomore Aliyah Whisby (long jump) and freshmen Sakari Famous (high jump), Titiana Marsh (triple jump) and Lester (heptathlon) will line up for the Lady Bulldogs.  On the men’s side, seniors Michael Nicholls (110m hurdles), Comenentia (discus, shot put, hammer throw), Keenon Laine (high jump), junior Darius Carbin (high jump) and the sole sophomore, Erm (decathlon), are slated to compete.

Commendations For Comenentia: As his final meet in red and black nears, Comenentia will be closing out one of the most dominant performances for a Georgia thrower in history. A month ago, the Amsterdam native earned the Southeastern Conference Commissioner’s Trophy for being the meet’s top scorer on the men’s side for the second year in a row after scoring 26 points at the SEC Championships.  

Two weeks ago, Comenentia became the first Bulldog male in modern times to qualify for the NCAA Championships in three separate individual events (discus, shot put, hammer throw).  UCLA’s Alyssa Wilson (same events) was the only other competitor nationwide this year to qualify in more than two events at the Prelims and Comenentia and Wilson join only one other competitor in the country as three-event qualifiers this week.  In fact, Comenentia is the only man at these NCAA Championships to be appearing at the final site in two individual events (shot, hammer) for a fourth time.

The 10-time First Team All-American and two-time NCAA champion will be targeting to deliver the Bulldog men their third top-10 finish at the meet in as many years.

A Flashback From The 2018 NCAA Outdoor Championships: Georgia traveled to Eugene, Ore., for the sixth time in a row for last year’s meet and here are the memorable scoring performances from the crew returning in 2019:

–      Comenentia set a Dutch national record and became the No. 10 all-time collegiate performer to win the hammer with a toss of 250 feet, 8 inches.  He also took first in the shot (67-7.50) to become just the third thrower in NCAA history to win both events in the same year (only the second over the past 96 years). Comenentia’s victories paved the way for Georgia’s first NCAA team title on the men’s side.

–      Erm exploded for a career high 8,046 points to take third in the decathlon behind senior teammate Karl Saluri (8,137), who was second.  This provided another pivotal 14 points during UGA’s run to the top of the podium.

–      Laine soared over the high jump bar at 7-3 to take third and tally points for the Bulldogs for the second time in a row at the meet.

–      Drop scored in the 5000m for the second straight time at the NCAA outdoor meet after completing her laps in 15:46.39 for seventh.

A Glimpse From The Dogs’ Last Action: The Bulldogs continued their 2019 postseason at the NCAA East Prelims on the University of North Florida’s campus.

Here is a breakdown of Georgia’s qualifying performances from the meet:

–      Comenentia outdistanced everyone else by nearly a foot to win the shot put with a mark of 66-8.

–      The Bulldogs had a pair qualifying in the men’s high jump for the second straight NCAA Outdoor Championships.  This time around, it was Laine and Carbin (rather than Antonios Merlos in 2018) who went over safely at 7-2.25 and will now try and help put points on the board for the Bulldogs.

–      A perfect 3-for-3 in the pole vault topping out at 13-8.25, clinched Smith’s first spot at the meet since 2017.

–      Comenentia easily clinched his fourth straight trip in the hammer with a toss of 232-8 for third place.

–      With a toss of 190-11, Comenentia punched his ticket for the first time in the discus. 

–      Drop ran a 16:17.47 for eighth place in the 5000m and will be attempting to score at her third straight NCAA Championships that she has competed at (counting the 2018 NCAA meets after she competed only sparingly during the 2019 indoor season).

–      Famous worked up to 5-8.75 in the high jump on three first-attempt clearances to advance to her first NCAA meet.

–      At her first East Prelims, Marsh stepped up to the challenge and traveled 43-7.25 on her opening attempt to qualify in the triple jump.

–      Nicholls bettered his No. 2 all-time UGA mark of 13.61 to finish ninth in the 110m hurdles and qualify for the second time in the event (first time was for University of New Orleans).

–      Whisby took off for a mark of 19-11.50 on her second attempt to take ninth and advance in the long jump.

–      Tanner snuck in as the 12thand final qualifier in the 800m after crossing the line in 2:06.14 to advance to her first NCAA Outdoor Championships in the event.

Titiana Marsh during the Torrin Lawrence Memorial track meet in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Apr. 27, 2019. (Photo by Kristin M. Bradshaw)
Titiana Marsh during the Torrin Lawrence Memorial track meet in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Apr. 27, 2019. (Photo by Kristin M. Bradshaw)

Honors Begin To Roll In: While the most important meet of the outdoor season is still to come, SEC and regional honors have already begun to roll in. At the SEC level, freshman Elija Godwin was named the SEC Co-Men’s Freshman Runner of the Year.

The USTFCCCA also announced their regional winners.  Comenentia was named the South Region Men’s Field Athlete of the Year outdoors for the second straight time.  He also earned the same honor indoors during the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

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