Georgia men counting on sprinters in Friday night’s NCAA track finals

The Georgia Bulldogs are counting on junior Matthew Boling to pull points in the 100- and 200-meter finals tonight at the NCAA track championships in Eugene, Ore. (Photo from UGA Athletics)

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The Georgia Bulldogs are counting on junior Matthew Boling to pull points in the 100- and 200-meter finals tonight at the NCAA track championships in Eugene, Ore. (Photo from UGA Athletics)

ATHENS – Georgia men’s track is going to need strong finishes from its sprinters Friday night if it’s going contend for the NCAA championship.

The Bulldogs pulled six points from decathlete Kyle Garland on Thursday to bump their total to seven over the first two days of competition at Oregon’s Hayward Field in Eugene. That remains well behind Tennessee, the current leader with 21 points, and second-place Texas (20).

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But Georgia quickly can get back in the race. Matthew Boling is in both the 100- and 200-meter finals, and Elija Godwin runs in the 400 finals. The Bulldogs need them to finish in the front of the pack to get into contention for a plaque. First place is worth 10 points, eight for second and six for third, then five through one for the last five places.

There is reason to believe the Bulldogs can do it. Boling is one of the favorites in the 200. His personal best of 19.92 seconds is just behind Florida’s Joseph Fahnbulleh (19.91), whom he bested to win SEC gold last month.

Meanwhile, Boling is looking for redemption in the 100. He finished fourth at the conference championships in 10.13, well behind the winning time of Tennessee’s Favour Ashe (10.04). Oregon’s Micah Williams (9.86) is the favorite Friday night, but Boling twice ran sub-10s this year (9.98 and 9.97).

Georgia’s other chance to pull points comes from Godwin in the 400. The personal best time for the Bulldogs’ senior is 44.61, which stands fourth among the nine finalists.

Georgia hoped it would pull more points from Garland in the decathlon. He did, after all, establish the collegiate record in the event with 8,720 points at the USATF Combined Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., in early May. But despite logging personal bests in the 100-meter dash, 400 and 1500, Garland totaled only 8,333 points in Eugene and had to settle for third. That was 124 points behind Arkansas’ Ayden Owens-Delerme (8,457) and only 29 behind Leo Neugebauer of Texas (8,362).

Nevertheless, that marked Garland’s third career top-three finish in national multi-events. The Bulldogs have now had a scorer in the decathlon in every season since 2013, with four national championships.

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