A 26-year-old Marine veteran claimed the first win of the Southeastern Conferenece Track and Field Championships, which opened a four-day run Thursday at the University of Kentucky.
Elizabeth Tepe, a Georgia senior, successfully defended the women's hammer throw title she won in 2013 by propelling ball-and-wire a personal-best 210 feet, 7 inches.
"It's a fantastic feeling, and I knew coming back it would be a target on my back," Tepe said. "So I just came out fighting and did what I needed to do."
Her previous best was 207-6. "I feel like my technique's coming together, end-of-the-year type stuff, and I felt really good," Tepe said.
She said she found her added distance "just this year getting a little stronger and then just feeling the adrenaline of the meet, and knowing how to fight and where to put the muscle in."
Top-seeded Denise Hinton of LSU took second place at 207-4, followed by Alabama's Nia Barnes and UK sophomore Beckie Famurewa.
"I had a big PR (personal record)," said Famurewa, whose throw of 193-9 beat her previous best by about 3 feet. "It could have been better, but I'm happy with it.
"It did feel very connected, so that's very good. I didn't know quite it was going to be a PR throw, so it's nice that it did go that far. And hopefully I'll get everything worked out in practice for the next couple of weeks and get it all figured out at (NCAA) regionals."
While the hammer throw was the only final of the day, competition got underway in the men's decathlon and women's heptathlon.
Defending champion Maicel Uibo of Georgia grabbed the decathlon lead, scoring 4,059 points through five of the 10 events.
UK freshman Ibn Short is tied for second with Georgia's Garrett Scantling at 3,872.
"First day is usually my strongest events, like the high jump, the long jump and the 400. So I'm pretty happy," Short said. "I'm competing with two of the world's best decathletes, Maicel Uibo and Garrett Scantling. I'm enjoying myself."
Short won the high jump by clearing 6-93/4, worth 878 points.
"I had a good clearance over 2.08 (meters) equaling my collegiate personal best," Short said. "I PR'd in the 100 meters at :11.15. I'm glad I had a strong first day."
In order, Uibo placed seventh in the 100 (:11.22), first in the long jump (23-11), first in the shot put (46-9½ ), second in the high jump (6-8¾) and eighth in the 400 (50.98).
Georgia freshman Kendell Williams dominated the first day of the heptathlon, racking up 3,656 points. Arkansas sophomore Alex Gochenour was in second through four events with 3,379 points, followed by South Carolina's Sarah Graham at 3,330.
Williams, the American Junior record-holder, opened the day by winning the 100-meter hurdles in 13.32 seconds. She tied Graham for tops in the high jump (5-10), placed fifth in the shot put (40-1½ ) and won the 200 meters (24.32).
■ Live coverage of the meet will air on ESPN3.com on Saturday and Sunday. The coverage will air from 3:40-6:50 p.m. on Saturday and 1:50-5:50 p.m. on Sunday. ESPNU will air the meet as part of a two-hour show on Thursday, beginning at 8 p.m. The broadcast talent includes Dwight Stones (play-by-play), Larry Rawson (analyst) and Lewis Johnson (reporter).
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.