The Georgia track and field teams added six more qualifiers for the NCAA Championships on Saturday at the NCAA East Prelims in Lexington, KY. In total, over the three days of the Prelims, the Bulldogs have 18 qualifiers in 12 different events, including two relays, for the NCAAs.
To qualify, track and field athletes had to finish in the top 12 in their events. The Nationals will be held in Eugene, Oregon, on June 7th through the 10th. The NCAA West Prelims ran simultaneously in Austin, Texas, and delivered the other half of the Nationals’ field.
For a complete listing of the final results and NCAA Championship qualifiers for Georgia as well as other programs from the NCAA East Prelims, CLICK HERE.
“This week’s meet is finally over and it went as planned as we qualified all the people who we thought would qualify with a few nice additions,” said Georgia head coach Petros Kyprianou. “As we continue to battle injuries, our student-athletes have shown that they can compete with anyone. I am very proud of our teams and coaches for coming here and maximizing their potential. Additionally, I am encouraged by the youngsters who either made it or barely missed qualifying like the Drop sisters, Kate Hall, Denzel Comenentia, Keenon Laine, Kendal Williams and others because they are the future of this team. They are led by an incredible group including Kendell Williams, Keturah Orji, Tatiana Gusin and others
“Now we need to get as healthy as we can for the `Super Bowl’ of NCAA track and field in Eugene. We have done step one of our job and now we need to go there and complete our mission. I am very proud of our teams – Go Dawgs!”
The collegiate record holder in the triple jump and two-time defending NCAA outdoor champion, junior Keturah Orji, made her first step to the 2017 title on Friday. Orji opened with a mark of 46 feet, 2 ¾ inches and added a third attempt of 45-3.75 to win the competition by more than a foot and a half.
Also qualifying for the second year in a row in the triple jump for the Lady Bulldogs was sophomore Aliyah Johnson. The Australia native soared 43-3 o her opening try to have the ninth-best mark of the day.
Fellow sophomore Kendal Williams complemented his qualification in the 100-meter dash by finishing in the top 12 in the 200m as well. The Jacksonville, Fla., native qualified automatically by taking second in the third heat and 10th overall with a 20.38.
Yet another sophomore, Keenon Laine, was perfect in his three high jump attempts and topped out at 7-0.50 to claim his spot at Nationals. Laine was one of seven jumpers who reached that height and will be trying to complement his third-place finish at this year’s NCAA Indoor Championships.
The Bulldog 4x100m relay team snatched the 12th and final qualifying spot after completing their lap in 39.47. This marked the third event that Williams was qualified for, the second for junior Cejhae Greene and the first in 2017 for senior Maurice Freeman and freshman Mecole HardmanClick here to hear it.
Georgia concluded the meet by finishing with the 10th-fastest 4x400m qualifying time and 10th-best time in UGA history of 3:05.67 to earn their reservations to Eugene. Seniors Reggie Glover and Ayrian Evans worked with sophomore Jeramey Hampton and junior Gabe Blackman to record a 3:05.67. Blackmon ran a leg on the relay after Freeman sustained an injury in the final leg of the 4x100m.
Narrowly missing the top 12 spots, freshman Jessica Drop ran a 16:28.75 to be eighth in her heat and the first non-qualifier on the final results.
Also of note, sophomore Denzel Comenentia took 15th in the discus (182-3) after already qualifying for Eugene in the hammer and shot put.
During Friday’s action, Comenentia (shot put), junior Mady Fagan (junior), junior Tatiana Gusin (high jump), Williams (100m) and Greene (100m) all finished in the top 12 in their respective events.
On Thursday, freshman Kate Hall (long jump), Orji (long jump), freshman Beatrice Llano (hammer throw), Comenentia (hammer throw), senior Alex Poursanidis (hammer throw) and freshman Kayla Smith (pole vault) punched their tickets to Eugene.
Coming into this week’s meet, decathletes Devon Williams and Karl Saluri and heptathletes Kendell Williams and Louisa Grauvogel had already scored qualifying scores in the combined events and advanced to Eugene.