Track & Field: UGA Begins NCAA Championships Competition Today

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Track & Field: UGA Begins NCAA Championships Competition Today

Petros Kyprianou
UGA Coach Petros Kyprianou

 The Bulldog track and field program traveled to Eugene, Ore., on Monday before the NCAA Outdoor Championships arrive at the newly renovated Hayward Field on Wednesday through Saturday.

The 13th-ranked Bulldog men begin the meet on Wednesday after winning a team NCAA title the last time in Oregon in 2018.  The fourth-ranked Lady Bulldogs come to the University of Oregon campus having finished in the top five at five of the last six outdoor Nationals, including second-place finishes at the facility in 2017-18.  





The 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships were in Austin, Texas, while Hayward Field was getting its $270 million renovation.  Prior to that season, Oregon had played host to the last six Nationals.

Georgia qualified 14 individuals in a combined 12 events at the NCAA East Prelims in Jacksonville, Fla., on May 27-29.  Junior decathlete Karel Tilga (NCAA No. 1) and graduate transfer heptathlete Asya Reynolds (NCAA No. 5) had already qualified automatically for the final round because of their national top-24 scores in the combined events.  

Anna Hall (NCAA No. 2) made the decision to skip the heptathlon at NCAAs and qualified in the open high jump as she continues preparations for the Olympic Trials (also in Eugene June 18-27).  Sophomore Kyle Garland (NCAA No. 3) had a qualifying score in the decathlon but also decided to prepare for his coming 10 events at the Trials.  He did not qualify in any open events at Prelims.





When Do The Bulldogs Start? Tilga will start the meet for the Bulldogs in the decathlon’s first event (100-meter dash) at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.  The Tartu, Estonia, native will complete four more events (long jump, shot put, high jump, 400m) on the first day before wrapping up the final five on Thursday.

Junior Alencar Pereira begins the open events for the Bulldogs in the men’s hammer throw at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.  Senior Kayla Smith is the first Lady Bulldog to compete (pole vault) on Thursday at 7 p.m. 

Other than the decathlon running Wednesday-Thursday and the heptathlon going Friday-Saturday, the meet is set up to be a men’s competition on Wednesday and Friday and a women’s competition on Thursday and Saturday.

Where To Catch The NCAAs: ESPN has exclusive rights to broadcast the meet and will feature the Nationals on a variety of platforms:

Wednesday: 4-11:30 p.m., ESPN3; 8-9 p.m., ESPNU; 9-11:30 p.m. – ESPN2

Thursday: 12:30-10 p.m., ESPN3; 6:30-10 p.m., ESPN2

Friday: 3-10:30 p.m., ESPN3; 8-10:30 p.m., ESPN2

Saturday: 2-8:30 p.m., ESPN3; 6-8:30 p.m., ESPNU

Live Results:To check out live results throughout the four-day season finale, please check:

Kyprianou’s Comments: “It is finally time for us to head out west and test our talents against the best of the best at the NCAA Championships,” said head coach Petros Kyprianou.  “Many take pride in just showing up but the Bulldogs have been very dominant and consistent the last six years, consistently contending for national titles.  This year is no different even though we have a few major players either injured or unable to help us.  Even with that, the Dawgs are projected to finish near top nationally and that’s our goal and mission. 

“We need to continue our tradition in pursuing podium finishes and keep knocking on the door for a championship.  It is an Olympic year and that usually brings a lot of fire and a plethora of the world’s best marks to this meet!  This year will be no different as the Olympic Trials will be the week after NCAAs.  The University of Oregon’s new track is one of the best in the world and they continue to support and showcase track meets better than anyone in the world.  We are very excited for this week and beyond in Eugene.  Go Dawgs!”

What Bulldogs Are Competing: For the women, Reynolds (heptathlon), seniors Amber Tanner (800m), Jessica Drop (5000m), Smith (pole vault), Marie-Therese Obst (javelin), junior Titiana Marsh (triple/long jumps), Hall (high jump), Jasmine Moore (triple/long jumps) and Shelby Tyler (high jump) will line up for the Lady Bulldogs. 

On the men’s side, senior Delano Dunkley (4x100m relay), juniors Elija Godwin (400m, 4x100m relay), Tilga (decathlon), Pereira (hammer throw), sophomores Matthew Boling (100m, 200m, 4x100m relay), Caleb Cavanaugh (400m hurdles) and freshman Arian Smith (100m, 4x100m relay) are slated to compete.

Honors Begin To Roll In: While the most important meet of the outdoor season is still to come, SEC and regional honors have already begun to roll in.  At the SEC level, Boling was named the SEC Men’s Newcomer Runner of the Year and Moore was named the SEC Women’s Newcomer Field Athlete of the Year.  The Newcomer of the Year is an award designated for current sophomores who were not eligible to win SEC Freshman of the Year last year during competition due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The USTFCCCA also announced their regional winners.  Moore was named the South Region Women’s Field Athlete of the Year after earning the same honor indoors in 2020 and eventually being named one of three finalists for the National Women’s Field Athlete of the Year that season.  Tilga garnered South Region Men’s Field Athlete of the Year honors giving the Bulldogs the first winner in the category since Bulldog great Denzel Comenentia won in 2018.  Comenentia was the third different Georgia team member to win the honor in three straight years from 2016-18.

In addition, senior Samantha Drop and junior Alejandro Collins were included on the SEC Community Service Team for their dedication to volunteering to help others.

FLASHBACK – 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships: Georgia traveled to Austin, Texas, for the last NCAA outdoor meet in 2019 after the entire 2020 outdoor season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Here are past scoring performances from a pair returning in 2021:

–       Kayla Smith, who has had the longest career journey of any Bulldog to arrive in Eugene through a grueling six surgeries, tied for eighth place at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Championships after redshirting in 2016 and before sitting out the 2018 season with an injury and taking 19th at Nationals two years ago.

–       While she was 19th in the 5000m two years ago, Drop scored in the 5000m for the second straight time at the 2018 NCAA outdoor meet after completing her laps in seventh.

Memorable Last Trip To Eugene: The Bulldog men closed the old Hayward Field out in style in 2018 after scoring 52 points to win the program’s first NCAA team title, topping the nearest competitor by 10 points.  The Lady Bulldogs came up one point short of a national championship after USC pulled ahead 53-52 in the meet’s finale, the 4x100m relay, to edge UGA.  The Georgia women had already captured the 2018 NCAA indoor team title that year. 

A Glimpse From The Dogs’ Last Action: The Bulldogs continued their 2021 postseason at the NCAA East Prelims on the University of North Florida’s campus on May 27-29.

Here is a breakdown of Georgia’s qualifying performances from the meet:

–       Boling was an auto qualifier in the 100m and ninth overall with a windy 10.09 while Arian Smith ran a 10.10 (also above the 2.0 meter/second wind threshold) to make the Nationals field.

–       Boling clocked a 20.16 (+2.6 m/s) to have the fourth-fastest time in the 200m to qualify.

–       Godwin had an auto qualifier with a 45.41 in the 400m and had the fifth-best time to advance.

–       Cavanaugh snuck into the field as the No. 11 of 12 spots after registering a personal record 50.88 in the 400m hurdles.

–       Arian Smith, Godwin, Dunkley and Boling broke their own school record in the 4x100m relay with a 38.57 to have the second-best qualifying time and punch their ticket to Eugene as a unit.

–       Pereira picked up a career best with his mark of 222 feet, 7 inches in the hammer throw and qualified easily, taking fourth in Jacksonville.

–       Tanner sped to a 2:01.66 for seventh overall in the 800m and will now be aiming for her first All-America certificate outdoors.

–       Drop continued to put together one of the most impressive all-around resumes for any Bulldog distance runner in history as she qualified in the 5000m with a 16:00.03.

–       The Georgia women had a pair advance in the high jump thanks to an outdoor career best of 5-11.50 from Tyler while Hall cleared 5-9.75 to also qualify in an individual event while she readies for the heptathlon at the Olympic Trials.

–       Kayla Smith tied for the cleanest outing in the pole vault, advancing with a mark of 14 feet in her sixth year.

–       Moore and Marsh secured spots in the travel party with their performances in the triple and long jumps.  Moore had the second-best long jump (21-9) and the fourth-best triple jump (44-9.50) while Marsh was fourth in the long jump thanks to a mark of 21-7.25 and eighth in the triple after traveling 43-5.25.

–       Obst is making her first trip since 2018 to the NCAA Championships after she cruised into the final round with a javelin toss of 179 feet.





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