Senior Keturah Orji opened her final year by topping her own collegiate and American records in the triple jump to put an exclamation mark on the final day of the Clemson Invitational on Saturday.
In addition to Orji’s record-breaking day, the second-ranked Bulldog men and third-ranked Georgia women had junior Denzel Comenentia post his second career best in as many days and their high jumpers get in position for the postseason, among other highlights.
“Track and field is not the most profitable sport when it comes to money, but it always brings more excitement than expected,” said Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou. “That’s what some of our ‘heavy hitters’ did today with Keturah highlighting the day with her new American and NCAA records. As I kept telling the team all week long, we have to find ways to discover our greatness – not only performing but in leading as well. I challenged the team to continue to push and find the next leaders before the seniors graduate in June.
“I’m very happy with how Jessica Drop showed up and destroyed Carly (Hamilton’s) record, with the great high jump openers from Mady (Fagan) and Darius (Carbin), with Tara (Davis) competing alongside the ‘big dogs’ and setting personal records and with Denzel (Comenentia) setting the pace and showing the world he’s here to stay and so much more. Even though it is extremely early, we must continue to stay focused on what’s important, and that is being ready to go in March. But first we need to get to March and the NCAA Championships, meaning we have to qualify as many potential scorers as we can by SECs.
“We have been stretching and analyzing how simple it is to do such a thing but also how difficult it is if we are not focused. Now we must turn our attention to Arkansas as we will be facing some NCAA-caliber competition in our SEC opponents. We have a lot of work to do but I believe in this team and what we have in store. However, it is our job to prepare them for battle and as always try to hold them accountable in doing simple things extraordinarily well.”
Orji started her last indoor campaign by recording the country’s third-best long jump this year two weeks ago. Saturday, she started her six-jump series in the triple jump with a fresh American, collegiate and school record after the Mount Olive, N.J., native soared 47 feet, 8 inches. This effort topped her own record of 46-11.75 set at last year’s SEC Indoor Championships and gives Orji five of the NCAA’s all-time top-10 list, including the top four.
Orji, who is the two-time defending NCAA indoor champion, followed up her record-breaking jump with a mark of 46-10.25 and then had a third jump that measured 46-0.75 before passing on her final three attempts. She now leads the national ranks by more than two and a half feet.
Sophomore Jessica Drop returned to the track in fine fashion after earning All-America honors in cross country in November. Drop shot past Carly Hamilton’s school 3000-meter record time of 9:20.89 from 2013 to pick up the win in the event and finish with one of the country’s top-10 times this year. Drop, whose twin Sam Drop also finished the cross season with All-America honors to lead the Lady Bulldogs to a 17th-place finish, ran a 9:17.60 to narrowly hold off Clemson senior Grace Barnett (9:17.64).
Senior Denzel Comenentia made it a clean sweep in the shot put and weight throw with a personal record in the weight on the meet’s second day. Comenentia uncorked the nation’s third-best toss this year of 73-6.75, which ranks second in school history behind Andras Haklits’ monstrous effort of 80-2 at the 2001 NCAA Championships. On Friday, Comenentia took control of the country’s lead in the shot with a mark of 65-11.
After sweeping the SEC and NCAA high jump titles last indoor season, senior Mady Fagan opened her final year by being the second collegiate finisher (third overall) in the high jump with the nation’s third-best mark this year. Fagan cleared 6-0.75 on her first try as former Lady Bulldog All-American Levern Spencer (6-2.75) grabbed the outright victory.
On the men’s side, sophomore Darius Carbin gave the Bulldogs a second high jumper on the national top-10 list by winning with a mark of 7-3 in his season debut. Carbin cleared the height on his second try and then retired with the victory in hand. True freshman Antonios Merlos finished third during his first meet in red and black with a first attempt clearance of 6-10.75.
Sophomore Amber Tanner also grabbed the second collegiate finisher (third overall) in the 600m after registering a time of 1:31.36.
CLICK HERE for the full results from the Clemson Invite track and field meet.
The Bulldogs return to action in Fayetteville, Ark., for the Razorback Invitational next Friday and Saturday.