With the postseason arriving in two weeks, Georgia’s track and field teams will have their final tune-up on the Spec Towns Track in Athens with the Georgia Invitational on Saturday.
The women’s 5000-meter race will start the meet at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday morning and the women’s hammer throw at 10 a.m. will be the first field event.
The Bulldog men shot to a season-best No. 5 ranking in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll while the Georgia women sit at No. 13 in the regular season’s last week.
Members from Auburn, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Coastal Carolina, North Carolina A&T, Ball State, East Tennessee State, Clayton State, Indiana, Carson-Newman and Oglethorpe will join the Bulldogs in the competition.
Twenty-two seniors will be recognized at 12 p.m. during their last home meet. From the Lady Bulldogs, Shelby Ashe, Victoria Coppage, Ashley Henry, Freya Jones, Leontia Kallenou, Brooke Koblitz, Torrenzia Lyles, Jasmine Norton, Chanice Porter and Xenia Rahn will honored at the finish line. For the men, Jamario Calhoun, Michael Giuliano, Christian Harrison, Jimmy Hicks, Morgan Malanoski, Ashinia Miller, Jon Okoye, Garrett Scantling, Zack Sims, Kisean Smith, Steven Spevacek and Maicel Uibo will be recognized.
Following Saturday’s action, the Bulldogs will compete at the Southeastern Conference Championships in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on May 12-14 before the NCAA East Prelims in Jacksonville, Fla., on May 26-28. The season will finish, as regular, in Eugene, Ore., with the NCAA Championships on June 8-11.
“Our student-athletes are eager to get to the postseason,” said Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou. “Having our last regular season meet at home and having the chance to honor our seniors, a group that is one of the best senior classes we have ever had, has motivated our teams to put up some good marks and run some fast times. This meet will serve as a tune-up for the postseason meets and hopefully a chance for us to get more (NCAA) Regional qualifying results. The bottom line is that we will be trying to get ourselves in the best possible position from this meet as we head to the SEC Championships.”
With temperatures expected to be near 90 degrees and dry conditions forecasted until late in the afternoon, Kyprianou is hoping his teams take advantage of this final opportunity in Athens.
“We still have a couple national caliber team members who have not opened up yet with the season being so long so I am excited to see how Keturah Orji and Chanice Porter do in the long jump,” Kyprianou said. “This is also an opportunity for our teams to enjoy their last regular season meet at home with nice, warm weather. We carry a large roster so about 70 percent of the team is going to go home after this meet. This weekend helps us to see who that group is that is going to rise to the top and advance to the postseason.”
Bulldogs At The Top Of The National Ranks:
There is less than a month left before the NCAA Prelims begin in Jacksonville for the East and in Lawrence, Kan., for the West. The top 48 in each region advance to each of the Prelims in the individual events and the top 24 advance to the East and West meets in the relays. In addition, the top 24 combined event student-athletes nationally are allowed to skip the Prelims and advance directly to the NCAA Championships.
Here are the Bulldog men and Georgia women who are currently ranked in the top 10 nationally:
Karl Saluri (decathlon – 1st – 8,108 pts.)
Keturah Orji (triple jump – 1st – 46 feet, 3 1Ž2 inches)
Mady Fagan (high jump – T-4th – 6-1.25)
Kendell Williams (heptathlon – 4th – 5,957)
Devon Williams (decathlon – 4th – 7,928 pts.)
Ashinia Miller (shot put – 7th – 65-1.50)
Alex Poursanidis (hammer throw – 5th – 229-11)
Shelby Ashe (hammer throw – 7th – 212-4)
Kendell Williams (100-meter hurdles – 7th – 12.97)
Denzel Comenentia (hammer throw – 9th – 227-9)
Kendell Williams (high jump – T-10th – 5-11.25).
FLASHBACK – 2015 Georgia Invitational:
The Bulldogs posted 13 top collegiate finishes at last year’s Georgia Invitational, which also concluded their regular season, and the meet included several outstanding performances for the red and black. Porter helped highlight the meet by winning the high jump with a clearance of 6-0.50. Also in the jumps, Orji traveled 21-9 on her fourth try to be the top collegiate finisher (third overall) in the long jump as Kendell Williams was fourth with a mark of 21-2.50.
Jamario Calhoun had a career-best effort of 25-6.25 to finish with top honors in the men’s long jump. Georgia also swept the hammer as Alex Poursanidis (222-3) edged teammate Alex Larsson (215-3) on the men’s side and Shelby Ashe (196-1) topped Asianna Covington (188-2) in the women’s comp.
Last Weekend For The Bulldogs:
Georgia sent a full squad to Charlottesville, Va., for the Virginia Challenge last weekend and left with a series of highlights. For the men, the Bulldog shot putters managed third- and fifth-place finishes in the Invite portion of the meet with nationally respected marks. Senior Ashinia Miller had his second-best performance of the year (64-5.75) to be the second collegiate finisher while Comenentia tallied a career-long toss of 62-9.75 to move up on the national list and improve his No. 7 spot in the record books. Also in the throws, Poursanidis let go of a top hammer throw of 224-9 in a high-level competition to take sixth.
Georgia’s three 800m runners – seniors Christian Harrison and Kisean Smith and freshman Jeramey Hampton – all ran 1:49 or better to finish in the top 15. Harrison was third at 1:48.32, while Smith was seventh with a 1:48.78. Finally, Hampton ran a personal record of 1:49.81 to finish 13th.
As for the Lady Bulldogs, Orji made her season debut and quickly reminded the nation who is the most dominant triple jumper. She traveled 46-3.50 in the Invite competition. This immediately gave her the national lead by two and a half feet, produced Orji’s third-best meet of her outdoor career and shot her to No. 3 on the current world list. With an opening mark of 46-3.25, her first two jumps gave her the ninth- and 10th-best jumps in collegiate history. Orji now owns three of the top 10 marks in NCAA history, including her winning effort of 46-5.25 at last year’s Nationals.
Kendell Williams recorded a pair of open event personal bests as she trains for a third consecutive top-three finish in the heptathlon at Nationals. Williams ran a 12.97 for second-place honors in the 100m, which is her fastest time in a collegiate competition (fastest ever in a collegiate open event) since she set a heptathlon collegiate record with a 12.99 at the 2014 NCAA meet. Her 12.97 is ranked sixth on the national list and is the second-fastest time of her career behind her 12.87 at the 2014 USATF Championships. Williams also managed a fourth-place finish in the javelin after a fifth throw of 135-7, which was eight feet longer than her previous personal record.
Live stats and full results from the Georgia Invitational will be posted at georgiadogs.com.
Updates from Georgia’s track and field and cross country teams can always be found on Twitter/Instagram (UGATrack) and Snapchat (ugatrack).