TRACK & FIELD: Dawgs Open With Five Wins at Blazer Invitational

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TRACK & FIELD: Dawgs Open With Five Wins at Blazer Invitational

Georgia's 4x400 relay team

Georgia’s 4×400 relay team
[su_spacer size=”40″] Georgia’s track and field teams started their 2016 indoor campaign at the Blazer Invitational in Birmingham, Ala., and highlighted the meet with five wins and a series of career-best performances.
[su_spacer size=”40″] “I am demanding laser focus from our teams but at the same time wanting them to have fun,” said Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou. “I think they did a good job of doing that today. I think everyone who competed today did the best job they could opening the year and getting prepared for the postseason, especially with this being the site of this year’s NCAA Championships. Hopefully, our crew will use Saturday as another strong training day.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] On Saturday, UAB will host a second meet, the Vulcan Invitational, starting at 9 a.m. ET at the CrossPlex facility with the women’s 5000-meter run. The first field events crank up at 11 a.m.
[su_spacer size=”40″] The Lady Bulldogs went 1-2 in the long jump with the second and third-longest marks in the NCAA coming into this weekend. Sophomore Keturah Orji, who was a First Team All-American in the event outdoors, won with a fifth effort of 20 feet, 8 ½ inches. Orji won the 2015 NCAA outdoor triple jump title and was second indoors nationally.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Junior Kendell Williams, who has set the collegiate record in the pentathlon during each of her first two seasons in red and black to win back-to-back national championships, was the runner-up in the long jump. The Marietta, Ga., native opened with a mark of 20-7.50 and passed on her final three attempts.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Williams, who also has collegiate track’s fastest pentathlon 60 hurdles time in history, was also the top collegiate finisher (second overall) in the hurdles after crossing the line in 8.24 during Friday night’s finals.
[su_spacer size=”40″] One of Williams’ new training partners, graduate student Xenia Rahn, made her Georgia debut and was fifth in the long jump (19-10.25) and 10th in the hurdles (8.55). Rahn represented North Carolina in 2015 and was third in the pentathlon at last year’s NCAA Indoor Championships.
[su_spacer size=”40″] An early breakout performance for Georgia came from sophomore Mady Fagan in the high jump. Clearing a season-best mark of 5-5.75 during last year’s Southeastern Conference meet, Fagan posted a second-attempt clearance of 6 feet to win in her opener. This ties the No. 9 mark on Georgia’s all-time top-10 list and is tied for No. 2 nationally going into the weekend.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Former Lady Bulldog Levern Spencer, who is preparing for her third Olympics representing St. Lucia, won the high jump with an effort of 6-1.25. Two-time defending NCAA high jump champion Leontia Kallenou was fourth in this year’s opener (5-9.75) while junior Tatiana Gusin earned third-place honors (5-10.75).
[su_spacer size=”40″] The Georgia women also won the pole vault and tied for second. Junior Georgia Stefanidi cleared 12-5.50 on her first try to start her year with a victory while newcomers Emily Savage (11-11.75) and Kayla Smith (11-11.75) tied for second.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Another win for Georgia came in the men’s 4×400 relay. Ayrian Evans, Raytez Jenkins, Maurice Freeman and Reggie Glover won their season-opening race by three seconds with a 3:11.18.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Training for the multi-events on the men’s side, senior Garrett Scantling was the third collegiate finisher (fourth overall) in the 60 hurdles with an open event personal-best time of 7.99. Scantling’s teammate and Kendell Williams’ older brother Devon Williams also advanced to the hurdle finals with an 8.10.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Georgia’s middle-distance crew took the track in the mile to open the year. Senior Kisean Smith (4:15.81) led a 3-4-5-7 finish with sophomore Bryan Kamau (4:15.90), senior Christian Harrison (4:16.85) and freshman Jeramey Hampton (4:22.06) finishing in that order. This marked Hampton’s collegiate track debut.
[su_spacer size=”40″] In the longer distances, senior Michael Giuliano and sophomore Jon Moses finished with 3000 times of 8:45.84 and 8:46.16 to take second and third.
[su_spacer size=”40″] On the women’s side, sophomore Hailey Branch clocked a 10:00.36 to take fourth place in the 3000.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Also of note, senior jumper Chanice Porter ran her fastest time at Georgia (7.56) to finish fourth in the 60 finals.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Full results from the Blazer Invitational as well as the UAB Vulcan Invitational will be posted at georgiadogs.com.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Updates from Georgia’s track and field and cross country program can always be found on Twitter/Instagram (@UGATrack).

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Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.