The Georgia track and field teams established national-leading marks and tied a school record to highlight the Orange & Purple Classic during Georgia’s indoor opener in Clemson, S.C., on Saturday.
“Today our student-athletes showed that they are hungry for something special this year,” said Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou. “I am very proud of the way the majority of our elite team members opened up the indoor season. From breaking records to establishing top NCAA marks, the mission was to get as many NCAA top five spots as possible and we got started off really well.
“Having strong leadership on the team helps and the excitement is contagious as more of them are motivated to put the team as high as it can be on the NCAA map. It is early and we have to understand that as good as those marks are, they don’t mean much other than working towards punching a ticket to (NCAAs). We have to have our minds tuned into getting to March healthy, happy and sharp. The mission started today, and on to the next one in a few weeks.”
The Lady Bulldogs swept the first three spots in the long jump to establish the country’s top three marks this season. Junior Kate Hall, who won the 2017 NCAA outdoor long jump title, soared a career-best distance of 21 feet, 9 ½ inches on her first try to take over the national lead and move into a tie for second on the school’s all-time list.
Hall also won the 60-meter prelims after speeding to a 7.36 before blazing to a victory in the final with a 7.32.
Senior Keturah Orji, who was the national outdoor runner-up in the long jump last year after taking third indoors, finished second in the long jump with a 21-2 on her initial attempt. True freshman Tara Davis worked up to a mark of 21-1.25 to finish third in the first collegiate meet of her career. Davis also ran UGA’s 10th-best time in history in the 60m hurdle prelims to take fourth with an 8.44 before registering the fourth-best time in school history (8.28) to finish third in the final.
Also in the jumps, junior Keenon Laine cleared his first four heights on his opening attempt and cruised to a victory in the high jump. He matched the school record of 7-5.25 (Dothel Edwards) set in 1986 to take over the national lead and move to second on the current 2018 world list. This topped his previous personal record of 7-3.75 set last year in his first season with the Bulldogs.
Sophomore Louisa Grauvogel competed in the 60m hurdle prelims as she trains for the pentathlon. She took second with the fifth-best time in school history (8.32). During the final, Grauvogel took fourth after improving her personal best to 8.31.
Healthy indoors after missing last winter, senior Cejhae Greene won the 60m prelims after clocking a 6.70 to grab the top qualifying spot and tie for third in the school record books. He followed that up with a 6.66, which is second best in Bulldog history, to finish second in the final.
Junior Kendal Williams was fifth in the prelims with a 6.76 to qualify. Then, the Jacksonville, Fla., native finished just .01 behind Greene for third place. Williams owns the school record with a 6.51 clocked last year.
In the men’s 60m hurdle prelims, transfer Michael Nicholls put on the red and black for the first time and took third with the fifth-best time (7.89) in UGA history. Then, Nicholls tied the third-best time in school history with a 7.86 to take third in the final. Freshman Johannes Erm, who will be competing in the heptathlon, was 10th in the prelims with an 8.27.
Also on the track, true freshman Lynna Irby shot out of the blocks to registering a winning time of 36.73 in the 300m during her first collegiate race.
Senior Emily Savage started the day by clearing a Georgia personal best of 12-7.50 on her first attempt to win the pole vault.
On the track, senior Henry Dwyer picked up a two-second victory with a 4:13.56 in the mile. Distance teammate Jeramey Hampton, who is training for the 800m, was the runner-up in the 1000m after registering a time of 2:25.88.
Also of note, junior Mary Terry responded to a pair of misses with a clearance at 5-7 to take fourth in the high jump.
Georgia returns to Clemson for the second of three times during its next regular season meet. The Bulldogs will join the competition at the Clemson Invitational on January 19-20.