If one thing was certain as the ’18 outdoor season unfolded, it was that Florida couldn’t lose the NCAA men’s team title. If there was a second certainty it was that Georgia couldn’t win. Or even come close to the top. We wuz wrong!
Our formcharts—like everybody else’s—aren’t 100% reliable, but in 6 iterations in April and May it was a constant that the Gators were large favorites and the Bulldogs would be just also-rans. But that’s why they play the game, as they say. Florida had been projected, in order, for 67, 68, 67, 61, 58 & 63 points, always as No. 1. Georgia, meanwhile, had been tabbed to finish 6th, 6th, =6th, =5th, 4th & 4th, with scores of 34, 35, 36, 35, 36, 36.
But as reality unfolded Georgia scored big points early, getting shot & hammer wins from Denzel Comenentia on Wednesday and having 2 deca scorers (Karl Saluri & Johannes Erm) on Thursday. “We set the tone with Denzel getting those 20 points and then getting out to a lead with 34 points put us with a positive confidence level,” said Georgia head Petros Kyprianou
As Friday began the rest would be playing catchup, with Florida back at 13. In an ominous sign, the long jump, projected as a 16-point gold mine for the Gators, had produced only 2, although that 14-point drop was somewhat mitigated when Mike Holloway’s troops unexpectedly had 3 score in the hammer for a 6-point gain.
But things continued to fade for the favorites (like only 7 points in the TJ, where 13 had been expected) and to soar for their SEC rivals (like 10 in the high jump, where only 3 had been predicted). When the climactic 4×4 rolled around, it wasn’t to be part of the team chase, which was over.
“Today was an outstanding day and the boys showed up with a vengeance,” said Kyprianou. “This was a great team effort. Having the high jumpers step it up was awesome, I am really proud of the way those two guys competed. This was a tremendous effort by everyone involved, all support staff, everyone. The entire crew did an amazing job and it’s a great day to be a Georgia Bulldog!”
2018 NCAA MEN’S TEAM SCORES
(8 places scored 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1)
1. Georgia 52; 2. Florida 42; 3. Houston 35; 4. USC 34; 5. tie, Alabama & Texas Tech 33; 7. Texas A&M 29; 8. tie, LSU & Stanford 28; 10. Mississippi State 26;
11. Florida State 25; 12. tie, Arkansas & Ohio State 19; 14. Auburn 18; 15. Virginia Tech 17; 16. tie, Akron & Kentucky 16; 18. tie, Penn State & Utah State 15;
20. tie, Illinois, Memphis, Michigan & Northern Arizona 14; 24. Syracuse 13; 25. Texas 12; 26. Mississippi 11; 27. tie, Kansas State, Minnesota, South Dakota & Wisconsin 10;
31. tie, Iowa, TCU & UTEP 9; 34. Kansas 8½; 35. tie, Eastern Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon & South Carolina 8; 40. tie, BYU, Nebraska & Southern Mississippi 7;
43. tie, Arizona, Colorado State & New Mexico 6; 46. tie, Louisville, Michigan State & Rutgers 5; 49. tie, Campbell, North Carolina A&T, Rice, South Carolina State & Washington 4;
54. Samford 3½; 55. tie, Baylor, Northeastern, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Purdue, Tennessee & Virginia 3;
62. tie, Iowa State, Liberty, Northwestern Louisiana & Sac State 2; 66. tie, Portland, UCLA, Wake Forest & Wichita State 1. □