Georgia Dawgs shine at SEC Track and Field meet
May 14—BATON ROUGE — The Georgia track and field teams earned a third individual title of the meet and piled up 10 top-three finishes, including six bronze medals, to conclude the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium Saturday.
True freshman Will Sumner matched the nation's top time and blasted a 13-year-old school record to win the 800 meters title with a 1:46.20. The Canton, Ga., native completed the SEC indoor-outdoor 800m sweep by sprinting past Texas A&M sophomore Sam Whitmarsh in the final 50m to win.
A second school record came in the meet's final event as the Georgia women bettered their time from this season's Texas Relays to take fifth in the 4x400m relay.
The Bulldog men wrapped up the meet in fourth with 75 points while the Georgia women took sixth with 53 points. Arkansas (149) ran away with the men's team title and also won on the women's side with 126.
Georgia also had 12 other scorers on day three. Elija Godwin came out of lane five in the 400m final and clocked a season-best time to finish in the top three for three straight years, including back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2022 and 2023. While Godwin has five years of experience in the red and black, first-year runner Kaila Jackson ran a blistering 11.04 in the 100m final to finish with a silver medal.
Jackson complemented her silver with a bronze in the 200m after bettering her No. 6 spot in the school record books with a 22.65.
Elena Kulichenko, who tied for fourth at her first SEC outdoor meet last year, bumped that finish up to second in 2023 with her fifth clearance at 6 feet or better this season.
The Georgia 4x100m relay teams both locked down bronze medals and each had the second-fastest times in school history. The Bulldog men's 4x400m relay kept to the trend and also finished third in their final with the No. 2 time on the school's all-time top-10 list.
Yet another bronze was won by Mikeisha Welcome who popped her best mark on her third of six tries to creep towards the 45-foot mark at her first SEC outdoor meet.
Following a 30-minute lightning delay, Caleb Cavanaugh heated the track back up with a bronze medal finish in the 400m hurdles thanks to the second-best time of his life.
Other Bulldog scorers on Saturday included: Titiana Marsh (5th — 13.47m/44-2.50), Matthew Boling (5th — 20.52), Aaliyah Butler (5th — 51.32).
On Friday, Kyle Garland, a native of Philadelphia, Pa., went wire to wire through his 10 events of the decathlon to win his second career SEC title in the outdoor combined events. His 8,589 points ranks No. 2 in collegiate history behind his collegiate record 8,720 from the 2022 USATF Championships.
Other Bulldog scorers on Friday included: Wesley John in the 3000m steeplechase (3rd — 9:01.69), Ana da Silva in the shot put (6th — 16.78m/55-0.75), Marsh in the long jump (6th — 6.35m/20-10), Sophia Baker in the 3000m steeplechase (7th — 10:42.21), Cole Heron in the 3000m steeplechase (8th — 9:12.04).
On Thursday, graduate transfer Marc Minichello surged from sixth place into the lead on his fifth javelin toss to capture the Bulldogs' 12th all-time SEC title in the event.
The Bulldogs also had an additional three scorers who finished in the top eight during day one: Alencar Pereira in the hammer throw (2nd — 70.07 meters/229 feet, 10 inches), Erin McMeniman in the javelin (7th — 49.06m/160-11) and Julia Harisay in the javelin (8th — 48.45m/158-11).
Full Results: For results throughout the weekend, please visit: http://gado.gs/ajc
The Lowdown: Sumner, who the top finisher in the prelims by .11 seconds, slipped into the third spot when the 800m final went single file and was the runner-up position as the bell rang. Comfortably behind Whitmarsh for most of the second lap, Sumner shot ahead the only opponent ahead of him in the final 50m to win by half a second. His time passed Aaron Evans' school record of 1:46.26 from the 2010 NCAA Prelims.
Godwin sped to the fastest time of his season at 44.55 to finish .28 behind the winner. The Covington, Ga., native won the 2023 SEC indoor title as well as this year's NCAA indoor crown in the event.
Jackson, who ran a windy (2.2 meter/second) 11.04 at the Mt. SAC Relays, clocked a legal 11.04 (0.9 m/s) this time around to tally eight points for the Lady Bulldogs in the 100m final. Minutes earlier, Jackson ran the leadoff leg on Georgia's third place 4x100m relay team.
Six races later, Jackson returned to action in the 200m final and proceeded to establish yet another personal record for third. Her 22.65 ranks 12th on this year's NCAA list and ties for 26th on the world under-20 all-time list.
Kulichenko cleared her first three heights on her first try after coming in at 1.79m/5-10.50. She finished at 1.88m/6-2 after a second attempt clearance to mimic her runner-up finish at the 2023 SEC Indoor Championships.
Beginning his career with a 14th-place finish in the hurdles in 2021, Cavanaugh bumped up his 2022 finish by one spot to secure a bronze medal Saturday. The Houston, Texas, native ran the second-best time of his career (49.07) after crossing the line in 49.04 in the prelims.
Welcome, who joined the Lady Bulldogs from the University of Oklahoma before the season, steadily improved from 42 feet to 43 feet to 44 feet in the triple jump to earn a spot on the podium. With a wind of 2.2 m/s behind her, Welcome traveled 13.68m/44-10.75 on her third try to finish a half foot ahead of the fourth-place finisher for a bronze.
With Keshaun Black starting the 4x100m relay, Georgia clocked a 38.87 to bump from third on the school's all-time top-10 list to second. Boling took the baton from Black in the lead and handed to Christopher Morales Williams in the top spot. Godwin ran the final leg after getting his handoff in third.
The Georgia women featured three true freshmen on the 4x100m relay team and the unit rounded the 400-meter track with the second-fastest time in school history. Jackson, Wilson, Brandee Presley and Butler, in that order, passed the stick to a 43.20, a time that only trails the Lady Bulldogs' school record at the facility two weeks ago.
The 4x400m relay for the men was eerily similar in result to the 4x100m relays. Godwin, Boling, Morales Williams and Sumner combined to register a 2:59.63 to earn a spot on the podium. This time ranks second in the school record books behind the UGA record clocked earlier this year.
Butler, Haley Tate, Presley and Dominique Mustin exchanged the baton in the meet's finale, the 4x400m relay, and dropped the former school record of 3:31.35 to the No. 2 spot. The Lady Bulldogs' 3:30.20 was good enough to edge Florida for fifth-place honors.
Marsh steadily improved her mark in the triple jump to hit 13.47m/44-2.50 on her fifth of six tries to finish fifth. Marsh has been one of Georgia's most consistent scorers, earning a spot in the top five for three straight years.
Boling ran his second race of the day in the 200m final and left the facility with his third straight top-five finish at the meet. Running out of lane nine, Boling completed half a lap in 20.52 for fifth place.
A true freshman, Butler returned from her anchor leg on the 4x100m relay to better her personal record in the 400m final for fifth. She stormed down the final straightaway to surge past her former PR of 51.39 from Friday, improving her No. 3 spot in the school record books. Butler was filling in for Kenondra Davis in the 4x100m relay because of an injury sustained by Davis.
Also of note, Charlotte Augenstein advanced to the 1500m final on Friday and then finished one spot out of scoring Saturday. She completed her laps in 4:24.73 and battling from the 12th spot at the 300m mark.