Georgia Tech sports notebook

The Yellow Jackets, after all, kicked off the spring season this week in Hawaii, which is very pleasant place to start, and they're preparing for later trips to Puerto Rico and Las Vegas.

But there were times in the not so distant past when those on the inside might have looked to get out.

The Jackets finished sixth among 22 teams in this week's Mauna Lani Invitation in Kohala Coast and would have liked to have fared better, but John-Tyler Griffin still has a good feeling about the season. He senses improvement from last fall.

“Our chemistry is much better,” said Griffin, one of three Tech players to finish in the Invitational's top 10. “I think everybody gets along, especially the squad that came this week.”

There are nine players on the golf team and five traveled to Hawaii. There will be intra-squad competition for travel spots for every tournament this season. That’s not always fun.

“I think most of us off the course get along even though we play for each other’s spots," Griffin said. "That kind can be kind of bitter at times.”

Track and field

There’s a little bit of “like father, like son” going on with the track team. Junior Antonio McKay Jr., the son of former Tech star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Antonio McKay, was named the ACC's male indoor track performer of the week after posting a career-best time of 46.63 seconds to win the 400-meter dash last week at the Rod McCravy Memorial Invitational at the University of Kentucky. McKay’s time was good enough to earn him a provisional spot in the NCAA championships.

Baseball

With practice under way, the weather has not always cooperated with coach Danny Hall’s squad, which is ranked No. 6 nationally. Rain and cold have not checked intensity, however. Check out this excerpt from a blog by senior outfielder Jay Dantzler on ramblinreck.com: "Usually these two [drills] take us a total of twenty minutes, but Saturday it took well over an hour. It was a tough day to focus and concentrate, given that it was raining and cold. ... Bunts were not getting down, the balls were slick, throws started getting wild and Coach Hall's tolerance was tested. We found out fast that he will not accept mental mistakes. He decided to help us focus by having us run a few 50-yard gassers, a couple laps around the field and giving us some strong words of encouragement. I felt that after that practice we all realized the intensity and dedication to the little things it is going to take for us to win a national championship."

Men's tennis

After beating Penn State last Saturday only to be shut out Sunday at Florida, the Jacket will try to rebound Sunday at Georgia. The health of No. 1 singles player Guillermo Gomez, who retired because of a sprained ankle against Florida, is sketchy.

Women's tennis

Sophomore Irina Falconi was named ACC women's player of the week after leading the Jackets to a pair of wins last week. The nation’s No. 1-ranked player beat No. 58 Kelcy McKenna of Arizona State, 6-1, 6-4, and Kentucky’s Megan Broderick, 6-2, 6-2. Falconi also won two doubles matches with Sasha Krupina. She and her teammates will play Kentucky again today at noon at the Bill Moore Tennis Center. Tech is 4-0, Falconi has yet to lose a set and the Yellow Jackets are tuning up for the National Team Indoor Championships Feb. 12-15 at the University of Wisconsin.

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