The UGA track and field teams finished the regular season on a high note at the inaugural Torrin Lawrence Memorial with five of the nation’s top-10 marks in various events on Saturday in Athens.
CLICK HERE for a photo gallery of the Torrin Lawrence Memorial meet.
Junior Keturah Orji, a Mount Olive, N.J., native, highlighted the day by sweeping the triple and long jumps and quickly taking control of the national lead in the triple with the world’s second-longest effort this year.
“I thought things went great for today’s meet,” said Georgia head coach Petros Kyprianou. “The purpose of this meet was to honor the great Torrin Lawrence and for our team to have a chance to tune up before we get in championship mode. I was pleased overall with our performances before we embark on the postseason. The stands were full and there was a great energy so I am hoping this leads us into the championship season with momentum.”
Orji, who is the American and collegiate record holder in the triple jump and has won the last four NCAA titles in the event, made her season debut and did not disappoint. The fourth-place finisher at the 2016 Rio Olympics started with a mark of 46 feet, 11 ½ inches, which ranks second in the world this year and leads the NCAA by more than a foot. She also had two more jumps in her series that would have taken control of the event nationally.
The Lady Bulldogs managed a 1-2-3 finish in the long jump as Orji also made her season debut in this event. Orji soared 21-8.25 on her second attempt, which moved her to No. 5 nationally and bumped teammate Kate Hall to sixth on the current national list, to grab the victory and then passed on her final two tries. Hall opened with a mark of 21-5.25 to finish second.
Senior Kendell Williams, who is training to defend her NCAA heptathlon title and attempt to win the third hep title of her career, opened with a foul in the long jump and then responded with a season-best mark of 20-11.25 on her third try to take third.
Williams started her day by winning the 100-meter hurdles with a season-best time of 13.07. This is the 13th-best time in the nation this year. A second Lady Bulldog heptathlete, true freshman Louisa Grauvogel, took third in the hurdles with a sizable personal best of 13.50. Grauvogel’s finish moves her to No. 6 on the school’s all-time top-10 list.
Williams’ older brother, Devon Williams, celebrated his Friday graduation by speeding to his second personal best in a row to win the 110m hurdles. Williams crossed the finish line in 13.75, which is No. 3 on Georgia’s all-time list and the best for the team since Billy Richard matched the great Spec Towns’ school record of 13.70 in 1980.
Williams returned in the long jump and took off for an effort of 25-4.50 on his fourth attempt for second place. He posted a personal best of 25-5.25 at the Spec Towns Track earlier this year as he trains for his postseason decathlon. Finally, Williams approached his personal record in the discus with a mark of 153-9 for third place.
Priming to make it three consecutive SEC high jump titles bridging the 2016 outdoor season, junior Mady Fagan had a first attempt clearance 6-1.25 to win and match her No. 2 mark on the current national list. Fagan equaled her No. 5 entry in the school record books while former Lady Bulldog and SEC champion Levern Spencer earned runner-up honors with the same height.
Junior Tatiana Gusin completed her regular season with a season-best effort of 5-11.25 to take third. Gusin was second behind Fagan at the 2017 SEC and NCAA indoor meets.
Senior Alex Poursanidis left the facility with the third-best performance of his career to win the hammer. Opening with a toss of 225-1 that also would have won the competition, Poursanidis topped off his series with a sixth throw of 230-1 to win by 16 feet. He will be in pursuit next week of his third SEC title in the hammer as he currently leads the conference and is positioned third nationally.
Junior Alex Larsson was the second collegiate finisher (third overall) in the hammer with a fourth attempt that measured 198-9.
Sitting out the hammer as he prepares for SECs, sophomore Denzel Comenentia won a head-to-head battle with former Bulldog and two-time SEC champion Ashinia Miller in the shot put. Comenentia completed his series with a mark of 63-2.75 to edge Miller (63-2) for the victory.
Comenentia returned to action in the discus with a favorable wind at the Spec Towns Track. He cycled to a fifth attempt of 190-3 to win by more than 30 feet. This is the best finish for a Bulldog since 2007 and stands No. 3 on the school’s all-time top-10 list.
Also in the throws, junior Anna Machovec posted her second consecutive personal record to win in the shot put. Machovec tossed the ball 49-8.25 to pick up the victory by eight and a half feet. This vaults her to fifth in the Lady Bulldog record book with the best throw for UGA since 2012. Freshman Skyla Beal was third thanks to a fourth throw that measured 39-10.
Sophomore Joe Kimura Smith followed a foul with a javelin toss of 185-2 to be the top collegiate finisher and second overall behind Roald Bradstock, who set the British record for 55-year-old and up at 206-3.
Reggie Glover, Ayrian Evans, Jeramey Hampton and Maurice Freeman took the track alone in the 4x400m relay in the final event on the track and clocked a season-best time of 3:05.95. With this finish, the Bulldogs have the 25th-best finish in the country this year and are now in position to battle for a trip to the NCAA Championships at the coming NCAA East Prelims.
Freshman Kayla Smith pushed her personal best streak to two meets in a row in the pole vault to finish second (top collegiate finisher). Smith glided over the bar at 13-5.75 on her first attempt to move from No. 9 to No. 7 on the school’s all-time top-10 list.
With his teammate and training partner freshman Darius Carbin sitting this one out, sophomore Keenon Laine reached a height of 7-0.50 on his first attempt to tie for the win in the high jump. This was the best mark of his outdoor career for the Bulldogs.
Junior Bryan Kamau, who is primarily a 1500m runner, ran his first 800m of the year and finished with a UGA personal record of 1:51.60 for second place. Also in second was junior Gabe Blackman after he raced to a career-best finish of 21.17 in the 200m.
Asics’ sprinter Candace Hill, who hails from Conyers, Ga., won the 100m with an 11.24 and Georgia junior Katie Stone battled for a third-place finish with an 11.53. Stone was also the top collegiate finisher (third overall) in the 200m with a 24.10 as Hill finished first with a 22.89.
Staying in the sprints, freshman Micaiah Ransby took second overall for the third straight meet, this time with a personal-best time of 54.09. The Georgia women also went second, third and fourth in the 400m hurdles as freshman Chelsea Zoller ran a 1:02.13, senior Catelyn Schmiedebusch capped her career with a personal-best 1:03.28 and freshman Makenzi Kopp finished in 1:05.83.
The Lady Bulldogs managed a 2-3 finish in the hammer throw. Senior Asianna Covington had the top collegiate finisher after her third throw measured 183-4. Sophomore Hayden Merrick worked up to a fifth effort of 176-11 to take third overall in a series that featured six fair throws.
Merrick concluded her day by launching the discus 154-7 to take second.
Also of note, freshman Sam Drop took third in the 1500m after completing her laps in 4:35.19.
Junior Karl Saluri continued to train for the decathlon and recorded the top collegiate finish (third overall) with a pole vault clearance of 15-9. Former Bulldog NCAA champion Maicel Uibo was the runner-up in the event with a mark of 17-2.75. Saluri will compete in his first decathlon of the year at the SEC Championships next week.
The Georgia women’s “B” team of Amber Tanner, Catelyn Schmiedebusch, Natalie Bordes and Katie Jackson finished second in the 4x400m relay with a 3:50.44.
The fourth-ranked Bulldog men and the ninth-ranked Lady Bulldogs now turn their attention immediately to the postseason. They will meet their league counterparts at the SEC Championships in Columbia, S.C., and compete May 11-13. This will be two weeks before the qualification meet at the NCAA East Prelims in Lexington, Ky., on May 25-27 and the NCAA Championships will follow in Eugene, Ore., on June 7-10.
Known in the past as the Georgia Invitational, Kyprianou and his coaching staff decided this season to rename the Bulldogs’ final home meet of the year the Torrin Lawrence Memorial. Lawrence, a Jacksonville, Fla., native, competed for Georgia from 2009 to 2012 and graduated with a degree in Sociology in 2013. During his time as a Bulldog, he captured three SEC titles, a NCAA crown and set a collegiate record in the indoor 300m. Lawrence was tragically killed in a car accident on July 28, 2014. He was 25-years-old.
The Bulldog family honored 16 seniors during the Saturday’s meet.
Morgan Ainslie (Marietta, Ga.), Natalie Bordes (Alpharetta, Ga.), Asianna Covington (Vancouver, British Columbia), Holly Ebbets (Leesburg, Ga.), Sarah Gardner (Marietta, Ga.), Morgan Green (Roswell, Ga.), Lauren Kelly (Suwanee, Ga.), Catelyn Schmiedebusch (Troy, Ohio), Georgia Stefanidi (Pallini, Greece), Kendell Williams (Marietta, Ga.), Ayrian Evans (Ellenwood, Ga.), Maurice Freeman (Arnoldsville, Ga.), Reggie Glover (Orlando, Fla.), Alex Poursanidis (Paphos, Cyprus), Sid Vaughn (Baton Rouge, La.) and Devon Williams (Marietta, Ga.) are expected to line up near the finish line as a Bulldog for the final time. Nine of these – Ainslie, Covington, Ebbets, Green, Schmiedebusch, Evans, Freeman, Vaughn and Devon Williams – graduated from UGA on Friday. Kelly graduated last year and was honored with his group.
CLICK HERE for the complete results from the Torrin Lawrence Memorial meet.