Future's so bright: Georgia star posts top-3 mark all-time among U.S. men

Georgia's Kyle Garland salutes after clearing a bar in the pole vault Friday at the Sports Performance Center. Garland, the collegiate record holder in the decathlon, posted a top-three score all-time among U.S. men in the indoor heptathlon at the Texas Tech Open & Multis meet.
Georgia's Kyle Garland salutes after clearing a bar in the pole vault Friday at the Sports Performance Center. Garland, the collegiate record holder in the decathlon, posted a top-three score all-time among U.S. men in the indoor heptathlon at the Texas Tech Open & Multis meet.

Kyle Garland took his first recruiting visit to Texas Tech when he was a youngster in Philadelphia and the Red Raiders' Sports Performance Center was under construction and eagerly anticipated.

Garland ultimately chose a different shade of red and black for his college uniform, and on Thursday and Friday, he returned to Lubbock and gave a performance special even by his standards. The 6-foot-5, 227-pound senior from Georgia scored 6,415 points in the indoor heptathlon, tied for eighth all-time in the world and third among U.S. men behind only combined-events legends Ashton Eaton and Dan O'Brien.

"I knew it was going to be a great facility," Garland said. "I never had a chance to get down here and compete before, so this is my first time competing here. It was absolutely incredible. The energy. The atmosphere. The track, super fast. I absolutely love competing here."

The Texas Tech Open & Multis is the setting this weekend.

In the seven-event competition over two days, Garland ran the 60 meters in 6.86 seconds, long jumped 24 feet, 9 3/4 inches, put the shot 53-4 1/4, cleared 7-2 1/4 in the high jump, ran the 60-meter hurdles in 7.84, cleared 16-4 3/4 in the pole vault and knocked out the 1,000 meters in 2 minutes, 51.40.

His final point total was second in NCAA history and not altogether surprising. Garland is the collegiate record holder in the decathlon, having scored 8,720 points in the 10-event competition last year.

He trains under James Thomas, the former Texas Tech associate head coach whom Georgia hired away in June 2021. This week, Garland topped his previous personal record in the heptathlon by 210 points and was especially pumped about going two bars higher than his previous best in the pole vault.

"After last summer, I gained a little bit of confidence in that event and a little bit of consistency as well," he said. "So after fall training and the confidence coach and I had built over the past couple months, I knew that I had something big (coming). So to be able to get a two-bar PR (personal record) was absolutely incredible for me. I think that was probably the most exciting part of this whole competition."

Georgia's Kyle Garland cleared 16 feet, 4 3/4 inches in the pole vault Friday at the Sports Performance Center. Garland's winning score of 6,415 points in the indoor heptathlon was second in NCAA history and tied for eighth in the world all-time.
Georgia's Kyle Garland cleared 16 feet, 4 3/4 inches in the pole vault Friday at the Sports Performance Center. Garland's winning score of 6,415 points in the indoor heptathlon was second in NCAA history and tied for eighth in the world all-time.

The field of 20 starters included five men who finished in the top eight, good for first-team all-America status, at last year's NCAA championships.

Against that stiff competition, Texas Tech graduate student Denim Rogers took fourth place with a PR of his own, 5,848 points. Rogers had the fastest times in the 60 meters (6.84) and the 60-meter hurdles (7.74).

"It feels good," said Rogers, who transferred to Tech a year ago from Houston Christian. "It definitely makes me think I can hold my own against those guys and it'll be good to get back and compete with them, because I got to compete with them in 2021 in (the NCAA championships) for indoor, where I finished eighth, so it would be good to get there and hopefully get a little bit higher in the rankings."

For Garland, the high jump and the hurdles are the combined-event disciplines that come most easily. He competed in those before he first tried the pentathlon at age 14 and the decathlon at age 15.

"I had a couple of people telling me I was doing a lot of individual events and doing them really well," he said, "so they were like, 'Why not try the multi?'

"I did a little bit of research, and in that research process I came across Ashton Eaton, who was competing at the time. Just watching guys like him, guys like Trey Hardee that are the best in the world at the event I wanted to pursue absolutely drove me to put myself in that conversation and say that I wanted to be the best in this event as well."

Eaton, now retired, was a seven-time global gold medalist, winning two Olympic decathlon titles and setting the world record in the indoor heptathlon (6,645 points). Hardee, also retired, was a two-time world champion and an Olympic silver medalist. Garland has crossed paths and talked to both in the past couple of years. He exchanged phone numbers with Eaton and still tries to get tips from the greatest.

On Thursday and Friday, it came together for an especially memorable performance. It didn't hurt, Garland said, to be competing for the first time in Tech's facility. One of the unique facets is having an indoor track and an artificial turf football field that doubles as a warm-up area, all under the one roof.

"It just makes everything look so much wider than it really is," Garland said. "And on top of that, the natural light in here is absolutely incredible. My eyes aren't working as hard as they are in some other indoor facilities and such.

"Having this open area, it feels very, very similar to outdoor season, even though we're inside. I really haven't seen a facility like it. It's absolutely incredible."

Fans who stayed until night were treated to some top sprinters. Three-time global medalist Elija Godwin from Georgia ran the 400 meters in 46.12, the fastest time among 51 starters. Godwin won bronze on the U.S. mixed 1,600-meter relay at the Tokyo Olympics and won gold on the U.S. 1,600 relay at last year's World Championships in Oregon.

Micah Williams, the NCAA champion in the 60 meters two years ago, won that event in 6.49, and Texas Tech's Rosemary Chukwuma won the women's 60 in 7.09.

Chukwuma's time missed the facility record of 7.08 set last year by 2022 World Championships bronze medalist Marybeth Sant-Price.

Williams' time missed the men's facility record of 6.45 set last year by Tech's Terrence Jones. Williams also was just off his personal best of 6.48.

"I like Texas Tech," Williams said. "For my first time running (here), it felt really fast. I thought I executed well. More to come. So I'm just ready for the next meet in Albuquerque in two weeks."

The final day of the Tech meet is Saturday. Field-event start times run from 10 a.m. to noon, and running-event start times range from 11:30 a.m. to 4:05 p.m.


Thursday through Saturday

at Sports Performance Center

Event finals only


Combined Events

Pentathlon: 1. Camryn Newton-Smith, Arkansas State, 4,356 points in five events; 2. Kristine Blazevica, Texas, 4,224; 3. Ella Rush, Georgia, 4,100.

Field Events

Weight throw: 1. Madi Malone, Auburn, 74 feet, 5 1/2 inches; 2. Maura Huwalt, Auburn, 69-2 1/2; 3. Taylor Latimer, Nebraska, 68-4 1/4.

Long jump B section: 1. Hope Purcell, Indiana, 19-11 3/4; 2. Hannah Morris, Arkansas State, 19-11 1/2; 3. Taylen Wise, Arizona, 19-8.

Weight throw B section: 1. Marlene Gutierrez, UT-Rio Grande Valley, 62-1 1/4; 2. Danielle Gregory, Auburn, 61-7; 3. Michelle Ogbemudia, Stephen F. Austin, 61-4 1/4; 6. Field Gatlin, Texas Tech, 58-1 3/4.

Long jump: 1. Ruth Usoro, unattached (formerly Texas Tech), 22-6 1/2 (facility record; old record, Usoro, Texas Tech, 22-4 1/2 in February 2021); 2. Lishanna Ilves, Nebraska, 21-3 1/4; 3. Paola Fernandez-Sola, Indiana, 20-11 3/4.

Pole vault B section: 1. (tie) Lexie Leinneweber, Auburn, Simonna Cabella, UT-Arlington, 12-8 3/4; 3. Hannah Preissler, Nebraska, 12-8 3/4.

Running Events

600 meters: 1. MaLeigha Menegatti, Boise State, 1 minute, 29.67 seconds; 2. Michaela Lewis, Texas Tech, 1:33.36; 3. Torrye Tyler, Texas Tech, 1:33.94.

Distance medley relay: 1. Texas Tech (Halena Rahmaan, Magi Harris, Emma Bock, Hannah Spears), 11:52.22; 2. Kansas State, 11:54.55; 3. Nevada, 12:26.32; 4. South Plains College, 12:37.97.

400: 1. Aaliyah Butler, Georgia, 52.95; 2. Arianna Sharpe, Auburn, 53.01; 3. Bryannia Murphy, Ohio State, 53.64.

60 hurdles: 1. Aaliyah McCormick, Oregon, 8.07; 2. Talie Bonds, Arizona, 8.08; 3. Bella Witt, Georgia, 8.29.

60: 1. Rosemary Chukwuma, Texas Tech, 7.09; 2. Kaila Jackson, Georgia, 7.16; 3. Jadyn Mays, Oregon, 7.19.


Combined Events

Heptathlon: 1. Kyle Garland, Georgia, 6,415 points (facility record; old record, Leo Neugebauer, Texas, 6,021 points in January 2022); 2. Leo Neugebauer, Texas, 6,097; 3. Alex Spyridonidis, Auburn, 5,867; 4. Denim Rogers, Texas Tech, 5,848.

Field Events

Pole vault B section: 1. Alon Rogow, Georgia, 16 feet, 8 1/4 inches; 2. Reo Ogundare, Ohio State, 16-8 1/4; 3. Matthew Asplund, Auburn, 16-2 1/2.

Long jump B section: 1. Elisha Teneus-Claude, South Plains College, 24-4 1/4; 2. Jonah Tactay, Oregon, 24-3; 3. David Edmondson, Auburn, 24-2 1/4.

Weight throw: 1. Jordan Geist, Arizona, 72-11 3/4; 2. Maxwell Otterdahl, Nebraska, 72-6 1/4; 3. Kyle Brown, Auburn, 68-8 1/2.

Long jump: 1. Jacob Fincham-Dukes, unattached, 25-8 1/4; 2. Micaylon Moore, Nebraska, 24-8 1/4; 3. Trpimir Siroki Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 24-5 1/2.

Weight throw B section: 1. Aimar Palma Simo, Arkansas State, 65-2 3/4; 2. Josh Marcy, Nebraska, 64-3 1/4; 3. Konner Wood, Texas Tech, 63-3 1/4; 5. Chris Samaniego, Texas Tech, 61-9.

Running Events

600 meters: 1. Hossam Hatib, South Plains, 1 minute, 16.23 seconds; 2. Kyle Gale, Kansas State, 1:16.34; 3. Mehmet Celik, South Plains, 1:16.88; 4. Oskar Edlund, Texas Tech, 1:17.56; 5. Chevonne Hall, South Plains, 1:17.59; 6. Aron Tanui, South Plains, 1:18.30.

Distance medley relay: 1. Kansas State (Matthew Hauser, Nico Moulin, Will Carroll, Hadley Splechter), 10:01.85; 2. Kansas State B, 10:03.22; 3. Stephen F. Austin, 10:08.08.

Olympic development 60 hurdles: 1. Tyrin Lewis, unattached, 7.87; 2. Taylor Rooney, unattached (Texas Tech), 7.95; 3. Shakeem Smith, Bahamas, 7.97.

400: 1. Elija Godwin, Georgia, 46.12; 2. Jeremy Bembridge, South Plains, 46.84; 3. Elijah Mosley, Barton County (Kan.) Community College, 46.98.

60 hurdles: 1. Darius Luff, Nebraska, 7.66; 2. Joel Bengtsson, UT-Arlington, 7.70; 3. Brithton Senior, Nebraska, 7.82.

60: 1. Micah Williams, Oregon, 6.49; 2. Azeem Fahmi, Auburn, 6.65; 3. Rodney Heath, Louisiana Tech, 6.67.

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Georgia star Kyle Garland posts top-3 mark all-time among U.S. men in Tech meet