ATLANTA (May 29) – The Georgia Tech men’s and women’s track teams will send a total of nine athletes in six events to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, May 31-June 3 at Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C., led by quarter-milers Bryan Swarn and Michael Johnson, who will compete in both the 400 meters and 4×400-meter relay.
“This is one of the biggest groups we’ve ever taken to the NCAA’s,” said men’s head coach Grover Hinsdale. “The main thing is getting there. I’m not concerned with where our athletes are ranked because many of these performances occurred several weeks ago, on different surfaces and in different wind and weather conditions. But once you get to the NCAA’s, it’s a level playing field.
“Our athletes have historically performed well at the NCAA meet, and we’re looking forward to that again.”
The Tech athletes have the advantage of having competed on the Wallace Wade Stadium track twice this season, at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships and the Duke Invitational in April.
“This track is very long with tight turns, so I definitely think being familiar with it is an advantage,” said Hinsdale.
Swarn, a sophomore from Englewood, Colo., ranks seventh nationally in the 400 meets with an NCAA automatic qualifying mark of 45.36, which he achieved at the Georgia Tech-Reebok Invitational in the last meet of the season. He also anchors the 4×400 Relay, which enters the NCAA meet with the nation’s fourth-best qualifying mark at 3:04.07.
Johnson, a senior from Littleton, Colo., who leads off the relay, had a qualifying mark of 45.94 in the 400.
“Bryan is running really well right now,” said Hinsdale. “He broke 46 seconds for the first time two weeks ago (at Clemson Orange and Purple meet), and that was a huge mental barrier.
“Michael is finally feeling good after battling some injuries, so I was very happy to see him make the field. It really would have been a shame for him not to have had one last chance.”
Tech’s 4×400-meter relay, which also features sophomore Aaron Sink (Raleigh, N.C.) and freshman Sharif Azim (Marietta, Ga.), has won four NCAA titles since 1992, most recently in 1998, when Johnson ran the second leg.
Also qualifying for the men’s team are freshman Brendon Mahoney (Cumming, Ga.) in the 800 meters with a time of 1:48.42; junior Clayton Porter (Chesapeake, Va.) in the long jump with a leap of 25-8.75, and senior Malcolm Leason (Wilmington, Del.) in the triple jump with a mark of 52-10.75.
Mahoney was named Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year for both indoor and outdoor track after winning the indoor mile and the outdoor 800 meters. Porter earned all-America honors at the NCAA Indoor Championships, while Leason is a first-time NCAA qualifier who won the ACC title and the Penn Relays.
On the women’s side, Tech will have two entries in the 800 meters in senior Becky Megesi (Jonesboro, Ga.), a 1999 all-America in the 1500 meters who had a qualifying mark of 2:06.21, and junior Sara Pardue (Aurora, Colo.), an indoor all-America in the 800 meters who posted a qualifying mark of 2:06.61, which she achieved on the Wallace Wade Stadium track at the Duke Invitational.
“Both are coming around at the end of the season, which is what you want,” said women’s head coach Alan Drosky. “Both have national experience, which is definitely a plus.
“Becky seems to be regaining her form of last season. She ran 2:04 in the 800 last spring, and if she can duplicate that, I think she should make the final.
“Sara has had a great year, beginning with cross country and then the indoor season. Early in the outdoor season, she showed some signs of fatigue, but now she is looking better.”
The Tech men, who finished 51st at last year’s NCAA meet and eighth in 1998, achieved their highest finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships with a fourth-place showing in 1994. The Jackets also earned third place at the 1997 NCAA Indoor Championships. The program boasts 16 NCAA individual champions (indoor and outdoor), most recently the 1998 4×400 relay team.
The best showing by the women’s program is 29th at the Outdoor Championships (1998 and 1994) and 13th at the Indoor Championships (1999). Tech’s only female individual NCAA champion is Natasha Alleyne, who won the indoor high jump in 1992, although hurdler Andria King was a four-time NCAA runner-up the last two years.
TECH IN THE NCAA OUTDOOR TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS
May 31-June 3 * Durham, N.C.
Bryan Swarn (400) (Semifinals) Thurs. 6:55 p.m.; (Finals) Sat., 6:45 p.m.Michael Johnson (400) (Semifinals) Thurs. 6:55 p.m.; (Finals) Sat., 6:45 p.m.Clayton Porter (LJ) (Trials & Finals) Wed., 6:30 p.m.Malcolm Leason (TJ) (Trials & Finals) Fri., 5 p.m.Brendon Mahoney (800) (Semifinals) Wed., 7:25 p.m.; (Finals) Fri., 7:05 p.m.Becky Megesi (800) (Semifinals) Wed., 7:50 p.m.; (Finals) Fri., 7:15 p.m.Sara Pardue (800) (Semifinals) Wed., 7:50 p.m.; (Finals) Fri., 7:15 p.m.M 4x400 (Johnson, Sink, Azim, Swarn) (Semifinals) Thurs., 8:25 p.m.; (Finals) Sat., 9:15 p.m.