ATHENS, Ga. — Just six days removed from the Georgia women winning the program’s first NCAA indoor track and field team title and the Bulldog men posting a record-breaking finish of third, UGA will open its outdoor season at Georgia Tech in Atlanta with the Yellow Jacket Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
Junior Hayden Merrick will start the outdoor season in the women’s hammer throw at 6 p.m. on Friday in her first action of 2018. Junior Denzel Comenentia, a two-time First Team All-American during the 2018 indoor season, will open in the men’s hammer at the women’s competition. A number of Bulldogs will take the George C. Griffin Track beginning at 8:30 p.m. for the women’s 5000 meters then men’s 5000m.
Action will start on Saturday with senior Anna Machovec and freshman Skyla Beal in the women’s shot put following the men’s shot put that starts at 11 a.m. The 4x100m relay is the first event on the track during the meet’s second day and the Georgia men are expecting to put out a squad after the women’s 4x100m relay runs at 12:30 p.m.
This marks the first of five scheduled regular-season outdoor meets, including the Spec Towns Invitational (April 6-7) and the second-annual Torrin Lawrence Memorial (May 5). The Southeastern Conference Championships will arrive on May 11-13 in Knoxville, Tenn., and the NCAA Championships are in Eugene, Ore., on June 6-9.
“We quickly enter the outdoor season and this Georgia Tech meet will serve as one to shake the rust off for our student-athletes who didn’t compete at NCAAs,” said head coach Petros Kyprianou, who was named the 2018 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Women’s Coach of the Year this week. “For others, this will serve as a little test of competing in their ‘outdoor’ events. With this being a short drive to Atlanta and a chance to be in front of their families, our student-athletes get an opportunity to open in a low-key competition. I’m excited to see our javelin and hammer throwers compete for the first time of his year as well as some of our runners to make their debut. I’m thrilled we finally get to be outside and see what our teams can do, always having in mind qualifying as many as we can to the NCAA rounds and ultimately for NCAAs. Go Dawgs!”
On the women’s side, Merrick, Machovec, Beal will join junior Hailey Branch, sophomores Ansley Heavern, Emma Maisel, Tairyn Montgomery, Yanely Gomez, Amber Tanner, Katie Jackson, Mackenzi Kopp, Micaiah Ransby and freshmen Emily Doherty, Millie Bergey, Marie-Therese Obst, Sophia Kidder and Halle McClintock in competition.
For the men, seniors Alex Larsson, Jon Moses, Bryan Kamau, Cejhae Greene, juniors Denzel Comenentia, Terrell Estime, Austin Sprague, Eric Westog, Joe Kimura Smith, Kendal Williams, Michael Nicholls, Henry Dwyer, Jeramey Hampton, Jonathan Raines, Raytez Jenkins, sophomores Jonathan Pelham, Ryan Peppenhorst and freshmen Michael Hans, Nate Reichard, Davis Stockwell, John Bradley and Justes Nance are scheduled to travel.
Last year, the Lady Bulldogs finished second at the NCAA Outdoor Championships by 1.8 points. Three Georgia national champions return with senior Mady Fagan (high jump), junior Kate Hall (long jump) and senior Keturah Orji (triple jump) back in the lineup. Graduated senior Kendell Williams also won her third NCAA heptathlon title last year. The Lady Bulldogs had three 2017 SEC champions and were fourth at the conference meet.
The Georgia men matched their top finish in history last year, taking sixth at the NCAA outdoor meet. The Bulldogs had four scoring All-Americans in 2017 and junior Keenon Laine (high jump) and Comenentia (hammer, shot put) are back in the Red and Black this year. Georgia was fifth at last year’s SEC meet and had four individual champions thanks in part to Comenentia picking up a pair of victories and Laine winning his first.