Georgia track and field head coach Petros Kyprianou would be the first to tell you he’s not fully satisfied with his team’s historic week at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The Georgia women finished runner-up for the first time in program history, coming within one final event and 1.8 points from the title. The Georgia men finished sixth and tied their program-best as well.
The Bulldog women even broke the record for most team points tallied in field events at an NCAA meet, and were the first team to ever have champions in the high jump, triple jump and long jump, all in a few days’ work.
Still, Kyprianou argues more was left on the table.
“Any time you finish top six in the country, don’t get me wrong, you’ve gotta be happy and proud for the team,” Kyprianou said. “Personally, my own opinion as the coach is I was disappointed because some of our best people went down due to injury.”
For the men, that list of likely point-scorers plagued by injury included decathlete Karl Saluri, who pulled out with a knee injury, sprinter Kendal Williams, who lost the 100 meters and pulled out of the 200 meters with a hamstring injury, and high jumper Darius Carbin, who did not compete.
Despite woes for both teams, the sky is still the limit for Georgia’s head coach. Of the 84.7 combined points Georgia athletes scored at nationals, 54.7 of those are returning next year.
“It’s a scary nice feeling [about the future]. I can’t wait to see how the dynamics will be,” Kyprianou said.
Kyprianou isn’t concerned either with the naysayers towards his field events powerhouse that includes four individual titlists and eight medalists to show from NCAAs. After all, Oregon posted all 64 of their points in track events.
“A lot of coaches came and told me, ‘Hey, don’t worry about this sprints thing, because you almost won a national title with just field events,’” Kyprianou said.
That strategy, however, has been changing since Kyprianou added former Florida State sprints assistant Ken Harnden to his staff and will continue to change next year. Georgia added the nation’s top high school hurdler in Tara Davis and another top runner, 400 meters specialist Lynna Irby.
“I do see Tara Davis as [Kendell Williams]’ successor, a lot of similarities,” Kyprianou said. “My goal is to get the best athletes that can score the most points at NCAAs … now, if it’s gonna be a bunch of runners like Lynna Irby down the road, let it be.”
The brother-sister captain duo Kendell and Devon Williams will be sorely missed for both their point contributions and leadership. Nevertheless, 2016 Olympian Keturah Orji and men’s team captain Kendal Williams are ready to fill their shoes.
“This is going to be a very powerful team and we’re gonna be the team to beat, because now we’re not just the new kid on the block. We’re the new kid on the block that’s challenging the head of the gang,” Kyprianou said.