Georgia’s throwers led the charge to open the Spec Towns Invitational in Athens on Friday. Senior Shelby Ashe and junior Alex Poursanidis concluded a windy and cool day at the Spec Towns Track by sweeping the hammer throw with impressive marks.
Also of note, former Kentucky Wildcat Kendra Harrison blazed her way to a world-leading time of 12.36 to win the 100-meter hurdles with the fastest opener in the sport’s history.
“This was another great day for the Bulldogs with some strong performances,” said Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou. “The obvious highlight was the two hammer throwers. For a meet they are training through with a lot of heavy lifting, I was very pleased with how they responded.
“It is great feeling to be a Georgia Bulldog on a day like this. There was a world-leading mark run in the 100m hurdles and I think that’s a testament to what kind of meet this is. We want to compete with the best talent in the country and now we are looking forward to the main event on Saturday.”
On Saturday, the Spec Towns Invitational cranks back up at 11 a.m. with the men’s javelin.
The meet will feature appearances by Herschel Walker and Gwen Torrence as the Bulldogs named the men’s 100m (1:30 p.m.) and the women’s 200m (4 p.m.), respectively, after the Georgia legends.
Ashe produced her best performance since putting on a Georgia jersey to win her third competition of the year. In a series that featured other marks of 210 feet, 4 inches and 206-9 by the Stone Mountain, Ga., native, Ashe sent her fourth attempt 212-4 to win by nearly 18 feet. This improves her No. 4 spot in the school record books and gave her the No. 5 spot on the current NCAA list.
Poursanidis followed up the women’s hammer with a tight victory. Falling behind for the first two rounds to Virginia Tech’s Tomas Kruzliak, Poursanidis took the lead in the third round at 221-10. The Bulldog junior then answered a 222-2 challenge laid down by Kruzliak in the fourth round with a top effort of 222-4 in the same round to clinch the victory.
True freshman Denzel Comenentia also launched a career-best mark of 182-6 to take second in the discus. Starting with a foul, Comenentia came back with his top throw and was within a foot and an inch of entering into the school’s top-10 list. He already owns the nation’s sixth-best hammer throw this season and the country’s 13th-best shot put effort.
In the women’s discus, Asianna Covington and Hayden Merrick both finished with season-best efforts to take sixth and seventh, respectively. Covington’s top effort of 160-2 came on her third try while Merrick moved from No. 10 to No. 9 on the Lady Bulldog top-10 list after her sixth and final attempt measured 155-3.
Paced by seniors Steven Spevacek and Zack Sims, sophomore Bryan Kamau completed his laps in the 1500m with the fastest time of his career (3:48.52) for second place.
Also in the women’s 1500m Invitational, senior Brooke Koblitz ran a season-best time of 4:30.06 for sixth place.
The Bulldog Decathlon/Heptathlon wrapped up on Thursday and Georgia had several standout performances. Sophomore Karl Saluri punched his ticket to the Olympic Games in Rio this summer after obliterating his personal best in the decathlon with 8,108 points to win. Saluri topped Wisconsin’s Zach Ziemek by 61 points for the win, took control of the NCAA lead and shot to No. 3 in the school record books.
Saluri’s training partner, junior Devon Williams, vaulted to third on the current national list behind Ziemek and Saluri and fifth on the Bulldog all-time top-10 list with his performance. Williams scored 7,928 points, which gave him the U.S. Olympic Trials standard to earn himself a spot in Eugene, Ore.
In the heptathlon, junior Kendell Williams left the facility with the collegiate victory and second place overall after scoring the NCAA’s third-best score this year. The Marietta, Ga., native ended up with 5,957 points to former Lady Bulldog Quintunya Chapman’s 6,039. Chapman’s tally ranks third on the current world list and leads for U.S. competitors.
Live stats and recaps from the Spec Towns Invitational will be posted at georgiadogs.com.
Updates from Georgia’s track and field and cross country program can always be found on Twitter/Instagram (@UGATrack).