It’s been a busy, and somewhat confusing weekend in Athens. Why so? Well, let me explain.
With a lot of youth peppering his roster, Scott Stricklin’s Diamond Dawgs have had some ups and downs all season. The early season was rough, with losses to a lot of smaller schools, followed by several subpar series once SEC play started. But since the calendar turned to May, a 5-2 record has included completing a season sweep of Georgia Tech in Sun Trust Park, and winning a pair of series against top 10 foes. Last weekend saw Georgia winning two of three at the home of formerly SEC East-leading Kentucky, and this weekend a top 5-ranked Mississippi St fell in both weekend games after taking Friday night.
Furman will be in town tomorrow, with first pitch at 6 p.m., before the Diamond Dawgs look to close out their season strong in South Carolina. They’ll need at least one win to feel comfortable about making the SEC Tournament next week as the 12 seed, with Tennessee nipping at our heels for the final spot in Hoover.
The Lady Diamond Dawgs will begin their Women’s College World Series chase this weekend, starting Friday afternoon at 4:30. ESPN2 will carry their opening NCAA regional game in Tallahassee with Ohio Valley champ Jacksonville St. Host school FSU takes on Princeton in the night cap of the four-team double elimination style bracket. Winners of the 16 regionals will square off in the Super Regionals next week for the chance to be one of the eight at the World Series in Oklahoma City.
TRACK AND FIELD
The run and throw Dawgs finished a diasppointing fourth (women) and fifth (men) at the SEC Championships this past weekend in Columbia, South Carolina. But they didn’t come home empty handed, thanks to a sweep of SEC Champs in the hammer throw (Denzel Comenentia, a sophomore from the Netherlands, and true freshman Beatrice Llano of Norway), and Kentucky native and sophomore Keenon Laine taking the SEC title in the men’s high jump. The final day of events saw Georgia more than double that number of individual champions with another four coming home in the hands of junior Tatiana Gusin, of Moldova, in the women’s high jump, Comenentia adding a second SEC crown of his own in the shot put, as well as Marietta and Kell High School graduate and senior Devon Williams winning the decathlon.
Last, but certainly not least of our seven individual SEC Championships came from New Jersey native and junior Keturah Orji as she continued her ownership of the triple jump. Since enrolling at UGA, Orji has now won both the indoor and outdoor SEC crowns in the triple jump each of her three seasons making it 6 for 6 in that regard. She’s also won the NCAA title the last five times it’s been decided, with her only miss being the indoor triple jump title as a freshman. The NCAA East Prelims will be in Kentucky later this month, before the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon begin on June 7th. Anyone want to bet against her?
The ladies looked strong coming in to the NCAAs, but failed to make it out of their home regional last week. The men hit the course today in College Grove, TN with hopes of a little better finish than that, as finishing among the top 5 schools there will allow them to continue on to the NCAA Championships in Sugar Grove, IL later this month. The Player’s Championship was also held this past weekend for our PGA Dawgs, with Chris Kirk the highest finishing Georgia grad at 12th.
Both the men and women hosted NCAA regionals in Athens this past weekend. And both advanced. The men took out Florida A&M, and then South Florida to punch their ticket. The women defeated South Carolina St and North Carolina St to earn their continued chance at an NCAA title.
Athens plays host to teams and individuals from all over the country these next two weeks, as first the final 16 teams in each of the men’s and women’s brackets whittle their number down to 1 before the singles and doubles competitors shoot for solo titles. The men get perennial powerhouse and fourth-ranked Southern Cal on Thursday at 4 p.m. The ladies get started with Pepperdine Friday, also at 4 p.m. The Waves will be looking for a bit of revenge after falling to Jeff Wallace’s women at the ITA National Indoors Quarterfinals back in February.
Despite the victories, the news wasn’t all good from the courts this weekend though. Former players and current assistant coaches, Bo Hodge with the men and Drake Bernstein for the women, are currently suspended indefinitely. Their status for the NCAA Championships starting this week is unknown, but neither were with their respective teams over the weekend.
And as always, GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DAWGS!!!