Track and field teams win first NCCA titles

The UGA women’s track and field team won its first indoor national championship in March, and the UGA men’s track and field team captured its first outdoor national championship on June 8. Photos courtesy of Kirk Meche and Kirby Lee, USA Today Sports

UGA’s women and men’s track and field teams each won a national championship this season.

The men’s team captured its first national team track and field title June 8 at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Oregon.

The team title for the men comes three months after the women’s team captured its first team title at the 2018 NCAA indoor championships. The women’s team fell one point shy of sweeping indoor and outdoor nationals to take second June 9 at the NCAA track and field championships, which also were held in Eugene, Oregon.

Following the conclusion of the track and field season, head coach Petros Kyprianou and three UGA student-athletes received individual, national honors.

Freshman Lynna Irby and senior Keturah Orji have been named two of the 10 semifinalists for the Bowerman, which is given annually to the nation’s most elite collegiate male and female.
Irby, a native of Indianapolis, Indiana, swept the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) South Region Indoor/Outdoor Women’s Runner of the Year honors in her first year with the Lady Bulldogs.

A native of Mount Olive, New Jersey, Orji was named the National Women’s Field Athlete of the Year for the fourth time by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The honor made her the first four-time semifinalist (2015-2018) in USTFCCCA history. She was also one of three finalists for the Bowerman in 2016 and 2017. With a total of eight NCAA titles indoors and outdoors, Orji is the most decorated Division I women’s field event athlete in history.

In the classroom, Orji is an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient after graduating in May with a 3.97 in financial planning. She will start her master’s degree program in sport management in the fall and is one of four nominees for Honda Sport Award for track and field.

Orji, junior Denzel Comenentia and Kyprianou earned national outdoor awards from the USTFCCCA.

Orji, along with Arizona State’s Maggie Ewen, was named the National Co-Women’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year, Comenentia was named the National Men’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year, and Kyprianou was honored as the National Men’s Outdoor Coach of the Year.
Comenentia, a native of Amsterdam, Netherlands, is the National Men’s Field Athlete of the Year for the first time after sweeping the USTFCCCA South Region honors indoors and outdoors.

In his third year as the Bulldogs’ head coach, Kyprianou also was named the 2017-2018 National Women’s Indoor Coach of the Year as well as the 2014 and 2015 National Women’s Indoor Assistant Coach of the Year during his days as an assistant at UGA.

“I am proud to say our program is officially the best in the country as far as the numbers go since we finished first, first, second and third at the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets and scored a combined 104 points at this year’s outdoor meet,” said Kyprianou, who is in his 10th year with the UGA program. “Now it’s time to rejuvenate and get back to business.”