Georgia Bulldogs in running for another NCAA championship

The University of Georgia's 4x400-meter relay team, from left, Elija Godwin, Matthew Boling, Bryce McCray and Caleb Cavanaugh, is ready for the big stage in Eugene, Ore.

Credit: Walt Beazley

Combined ShapeCaption
The University of Georgia's 4x400-meter relay team, from left, Elija Godwin, Matthew Boling, Bryce McCray and Caleb Cavanaugh, is ready for the big stage in Eugene, Ore.

Credit: Walt Beazley

ATHENS — The Georgia Bulldogs are on their marks and ready to go in the NCAA Track and Field Championships.

The outdoor season finale gets underway Wednesday in Eugene, Ore., and the spotlight will be on UGA’s top-ranked men’s team when the first gun sounds at Oregon’s historic Hayward Field. The men’s title is expected to be a two-team battle between the Bulldogs and No. 2 Texas.

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The women’s championship featuring the No. 22-ranked Lady Bulldogs starts Thursday, and the meet will alternate between the male and female competitions through Saturday’s finals.

Both Georgia teams are coached by Caryl Smith Gilbert. She has been to the mountaintop in this event before leaving Southern Cal last year to take over the Bulldogs’ program.

“We’re excited,” Smith Gilbert said. “The key for us is reining in that excitement and transforming it into our best performances of the year. We are beyond fired up for the days to come.”

All eyes will be on the sprints and Georgia’s Matthew Boling on Wednesday. A junior from Houston, Boling is being counted on to pull a lot of points for the Bulldogs as he has qualified for three events: the 100-meter dash, the 200 and the 4x400 relay.

Boling finally ran down the first SEC championship of his career in the 200 meters last month. He edged defending NCAA champion Joseph Fahnbulleh of Florida in that race with a time of 20.01 seconds. As luck would have it, the two will be matched again in the third heat of Wednesday’s qualifying.

Boling also will look to score in the 100 after twice posting sub-10-second times this season, with a low of 9.97. He will look for redemption after finishing fourth at the SEC Championships, well behind winner Favour Ashe of Tennessee (10.04). Oregon’s Micah Williams, with a 9.86-second qualifying time, is the prohibitive favorite.

But Georgia’s strength is in its overall depth. The Bulldogs have 11 entries spread across nine events in Eugene, seven of whom are ranked among the top-five seasonal performers. The Bulldogs have two national leaders in collegiate record decathlete Kyle Garland and high jumper Darius Carbin, plus Elija Godwin in the 400 meters and 2019 NCAA champion Johannes Erm in the decathlon.

Georgia won its first men’s and women’s national championships in track and field in 2018 under former coach Petros Kyprianou. The men won the outdoor title that year, while the women won the indoor championship.

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