Georgia heptathlete Sterling Lester competes in the 100 meter hurdles at the Spec Towns Track Invitational on Friday, April 5, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. Friday is the first of a two-day invitational meet hosted by UGA that welcomes track and field teams from all over the country. (Photo/Gabriella Audi, www.gabbyaudi10.wixsite.com/mysite-1)

Fourteen Georgia track and field athletes arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on March 10 in preparation for the NCAA indoor championships. However, due to the concern for the COVID-19 pandemic, the indoor championships were canceled and the Bulldogs were sent home without competing. 

Heading into March 17, the Georgia women were ranked fourth nationally and the men carried a fifth-place ranking. 

Kayla Smith, Amber Tanner and Darius Carbin were the only three seniors on the team who were set to compete at the NCAA meet. Tanner, along with Kyle Garland and Jasmine Moore had previously earned individual SEC titles in February. 

Here are The Red & Black’s postseason takeaways from Georgia track and field's 2019-20 season. 

School records set at invitationals 

The Orange & Purple Elite indoor meet in Clemson, South Carolina, on Jan. 11 showcased the Bulldogs’ developing talent and potential. The Bulldogs left the meet with nine top collegiate finishes and top-five national finishes. 

At the Bob Pollock Invitational, also in Clemson, the Bulldogs earned six collegiate finishes and had a number of nationally ranked performances. Anna Hall, Micaiah Ransby, Sterling Lester and Tanner finished the women’s 4x400-meter relay with a time of three minutes, 36.07 seconds. This placed them with the third-best time nationally and was the second-fastest in Georgia history. 

The Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas, highlighted Georgia’s talent in the pentathlon and heptathlon events. Three bulldogs ended day two with gold, silver and bronze in the men’s heptathlon. Johannes Erm took gold, Karel Tilga took silver and Garland took bronze. Hall finished second in the pentathlon.

During the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Tanner earned first place in the women’s 800-meter and set a school record that placed her with the best time on the NCAA performance list. Matthew Boling and Haze Farmer also set school records at the meet. 

SEC indoor championships set the tone

Elija Godwin ran a career-best time of 45.96 in the men’s 400-meter to earn third place in the finals. Boling was the runner up in the men’s  200-meter, with a time of 20.71. 

Tanner earned first place in the women’s 800-meter indoor for the first time for Georgia since 1995. She was projected to earn either gold, silver or bronze at nationals.

Moore was the top performer after winning the triple jump and taking runner-up honors in the long jump. Moore was named a finalist on March 20 for the National Women’s Field Athlete of the Year award. 

Olympic hopefuls 

In addition to the athletes’ success at Georgia, there were some Bulldogs who were hoping for a chance to showcase their talents at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. 

While the Olympics are still scheduled to begin July 24, it is uncertain if any changes will occur amid the health concern for COVID-19. However, the International Olympic Committee announced on Tuesday that they proceed as scheduled. 

Erm is set to compete for his native country, Estonia. Tilga, another Estonia native, was working toward earning his spot on the Olympic team. Boling is hopeful for his chance to compete for the United States team. Georgia alum, siblings Kendall and Devon Williams, were continuing to train.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that fourteen Georgia track and field athletes arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on March 17 in preparation for the NCAA indoor championships instead of March 10. The Red & Black regrets this error, and it has been fixed.

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