Saturday, Mar. 9, 2019
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. --- Georgia concluded the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships with top-10 and top-20 team finishes in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday.
The Georgia men scored 20 points and finished ninth, giving them their third top-10 finish at the meet in a row. The Lady Bulldogs tallied 11 points for 20thplace after the two-day meet to put them into the top 20 for the seventh consecutive season. Florida (55) captured the men’s team title and Arkansas (62) followed the Georgia women’s 2018 team title with the 2019 crown.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs had five more scorers. Georgia turned its final event of the meet, the 4x400-meter relay, into not only a school record, but also five pivotal points in the team race. The foursome of Micaiah Ransby, Sterling Lester, Amber Tanner and Lynna Irby bettered their own school record to 3:31.09 to finish fourth place.
Senior Denzel Comenentia complemented his showing in the shot put with a third-place finish in the weight throw. This marked the Amsterdam native’s second straight scoring effort in the weight at Nationals.
Senior Keenon Laine cleared 7 feet, 3 ¾ inches to complete the high jump in fifth place, which marked the third year in a row that the Versailles, Ky., native has scored for the Bulldogs at the NCAA indoor meet.
Sophomore Johannes Erm came in fifth place in the heptathlon with 5,817 points a year after taking fourth. His performance featured two personal records, including one in the 60m hurdles to start Saturday. Erm’s final three events came after he started the day in seventh place by 150 points.
Back on the track, Irby ran a 52.38 to finish fifth in the 400m to become Georgia’s first two-time indoor All-American in the event for the women.
Friday’s scorers included Comenentia (shot put) and sophomore Aliyah Whisby (pentathlon). Comenentia finished third and became the eighth competitor in NCAA indoor history to score in the men’s shot put for four consecutive years. Whisby was seventh in the multi-events to give the Lady Bulldogs a scoring All-American in the event for the seventh straight year.
Dwight Stones, Dan O’Brien, Jill Montgomery and John Anderson combined to be ESPN’s crew for the NCAA Championships as the meet will be featured on the ESPN family of networks.
Sunday: (Tape delayed on ESPN) 7 p.m.
Monday: (Tape delayed on ESPNU) – 9 p.m.
“We have finished the indoor season with this meet and while things didn’t go exactly as we planned, I thought we had some highlights on this final day,” said head coach Petros Kyprianou. “I am very proud of the women’s 4x4 team setting a school record again and taking fourth for the first time in school history. We had a younger, more inexperienced group on the women’s side and I think this will be a good experience for them in the end.
“Denzel has to be the high point for the men’s team after scoring 12 of our 20 points. As a team captain, he led this team and helped put us back into the top 10 yet again. Like the girls, we didn’t get everything done that we wanted but we also understand every single year can’t be like our last three or so. We waste no time starting up our outdoor season next weekend and I am excited to see how these teams develop before the NCAA Outdoor Championships arrive in June.”
Two weeks after establishing a school record to finish fifth at the Southeastern Conference Championships, Georgia’s 4x400m relay team improved that finish by one spot and shaved more time off the Lady Bulldogs’ No. 1 entry. Hovering between the top and third spots in their heat, Tanner was third to get the baton and took her team from third to first with a 52.36 split. Irby then served as the anchor and clinched the heat victory with a 51.59 leg, which tied as the fastest split of any competitor.
Comenentia continued his hold as one of the Bulldogs’ all-time consistent national scorers after a third-place showing in the weight throw. He set the precedent early after launching a toss of 76-6.25 for a two-round lead on his opening attempt, this after being situated fourth in the order of throws. Comenentia completed his series with five fouls. However, his first try was strong enough to hold second place through the middle rounds and end up third after the final round.
Laine, who already had third and sixth-place finishes on his resume at the meet, cleared his first two heights on his opening attempt before taking two tries to get over at 7-2.50. Two weeks after a runner-up performance at SECs, Laine then went over the bar at 7-3.75, again on his second attempt, to take fifth. He finished the competition with tries at 7-5.
Also in the event, junior Darius Carbin was 12thafter soaring over the bar safely at 7-0.50.
Irby took the track in the 400m final before the relay coming out of the second heat. Storming out to an early lead, Irby completed her race in 52.38 for fourth place in her group and fifth overall. This added another four points to UGA’s total and provided her a fifth First Team All-America certificate.
Erm gave the Bulldogs a scorer in the heptathlon for the eighth consecutive year and the 12thscoring First Team All-American during that span. He shot out to a personal best in the 60m hurdles to move from seventh to sixth in the overall standings in the first event on Saturday. Erm was third in the event with an 8.11, which moved him to No. 10 in the school record books and pushed NFL running back Todd Gurley to 11th. He trailed the leader by 173 points going into the pole vault.
Erm stayed in sixth but fell further behind (231) following his pole vault performance. He cleared 14-7.50 on his first attempt and then after passing on 14-11.50, Erm had three misses at 15-3.50.
In the heptathlon’s finale, Erm made the immediate statement by rocketing to the front of the pack in the 1000m and stayed there through for the first four laps. He got passed in the final straightaway by a pair of competitors and finished third in the race at 2:42.89. Erm snuck into the fifth spot by eight points with his final performance.
Also of note, freshman Titiana Marsh did not pick up a mark in the triple jump after registering a trio of fouls. She completes her first season as an SEC scorer and fourth on the school’s all-time list.
Results and recaps from the NCAA Indoor Championships will be found at georgiadogs.com. News and updates from Georgia’s track and field and cross country teams are always located on Twitter/Instagram at@UGATrack.
The Bulldogs will open their 2019 outdoor season in Atlanta on March 15-16 at the Yellow Jacket Invitational.