Georgia in first place at championships after first day of competition
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Georgia's track and field teams had an individual champion and three scorers to open the NCAA Indoor Championships on Friday.
Kallenou, a native of Nicosia, Cyprus, cleared a school record height of 6 feet, 4 inches on her third and final attempt to edge Akron senior Claudia Garcia Jou (6-2.75). This marked Kallenou's third consecutive NCAA title and her second straight national indoor crown.
Also in the high jump, sophomore Tatiana Gusin went over the bar at 6-0.50 on her first try to take seventh place and score two points. Gusin was making her debut at the NCAA Indoor Championships after finishing ninth at the 2014 NCAA outdoor meet.
Junior Chanice Porter also earned what is expected to be her second consecutive First Team All-America certificate in the long jump after taking seventh with a mark of 20-7.
In the early team standings, the fourth-ranked Lady Bulldogs are first (14 points) at the Randal Tyson Track Center with Oregon (13.50) in second and Baylor (13), Arkansas (13) and Akron (12) and Kentucky (12) also hanging near the top of the rankings.
"It is always nice to win an NCAA title and have scorers so I'd say we had some good things happen today," said Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton. "But we also had some bad things happen. Maicel Uibo going down in the first event of the heptathlon hurt and we thought we would have two scorers in the long jump. I think the heptathletes who remain will come through for us (on Saturday) and we have some other big scoring opportunities. We need to stay focused and get back to work in the morning. But we are very proud of Leontia's accomplishment and how she got there today."
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Georgia will also have four competitors in the open events on Saturday. Senior Morgann Leleuxwill be competing at her fourth NCAA indoor meet in the women's pole vault at 6:30 p.m. Freshman Keturah Orji returns to action in the triple jump at 7 p.m. while senior Nick Vena and junior Ashinia Miller are two of 16 competitors in the men's shot put field at 7:30 p.m. and will be aiming to score for the first time at an NCAA indoor meet.
Kallenou provided a dominating performance to clinch her seventh postseason win in a row dating back to the beginning of the 2014 indoor season. She came in at 5-10 and recorded first attempt clearances at her first five heights, including at her former school record mark of 6-2.75 that won the SEC title two weeks ago. After Jou missed 6-4 for the third time and the NCAA title was official for Kallenou, the Lady Bulldog flew over the bar at 6-4 to top her own Cyprus national record and ended the competition.
This is the 15th NCAA indoor title for the Lady Bulldogs and the fourth in the last three years. Georgia has now captured three NCAA indoor high jump titles, counting Patty Sylvester's 2007 championship. Kallenou becomes one of six women all-time to win at least two NCAA indoor high jump titles.
Gusin, who finished one spot out of scoring at last year's outdoor Nationals, rallied for a third attempt clearance at 5-11.25 and then reached a mark of 6-0.50 on her first try to earn expected First Team All-America honors for the first time in her career. This performance gives Gusin three six-foot marks in 2015.
Porter competed for the first time in a month after missing the SEC Championships and left with another scoring performance. The Pratville, Jamaica, native opened with a leading effort of 20-3.75 and then topped out at 20-7 for seventh place. Porter, who was ranked 13th nationally coming into Friday's action, was second at last year's Nationals after traveling 20-9.75.