Kate Hall of Casco heads into the NCAA track and field outdoor championships ranked fifth in the long jump. But the two-time NCAA champion is clear about her goal – another national title – as she prepares to compete Thursday at the University of Oregon.

“That’s always the goal,” said the University of Georgia junior. “I’ve been working for it all year.”

Hall will join nine teammates as the Georgia women attempt to complete an indoor-outdoor sweep of the NCAA team titles.

The Bulldogs enter the meet as the top-ranked team after winning their first NCAA title indoors, where Hall won the long jump.

Hall also won the long jump at last year’s outdoor championships with a school-record leap of 22 feet, 1 inch.

However, she started this season with inconsistent marks, jumping between 20-6 and 21-9. Her steps down the runway were off, putting her behind the board or causing her to foul.

Georgia Coach Petros Kyprianou said they’ve worked hard on getting Hall’s approach correct.

“Out of the blue, she started doing something that wasn’t familiar to her and messed up her last couple of strides,” Kyprianou said. “It affected the way she was hitting the board. We have done a lot of drills to improve her positioning before the takeoff. And I am optimistic we have fixed it.

“She is the defending NCAA champion and her team needs her to be Kate and not worry about anything else. … She is a very special athlete, very intelligent and focused.”

Hall qualified for the NCAA championships with a jump of 20-61/4 at the East preliminary two weeks ago, far behind her winning distance last year and her national high school record of 22-5.

“I had a rough start this season,” Hall said. “But we changed my mark and I’ve been more consistent since the second home meet, when I jumped 21-9 (on May 5). Before that, I was fouling or taking off behind the board. I would have huge jumps of 22-6 or 22-7, but I wasn’t on the board.

“I’m excited now. (Georgia long jumper and training partner) Keturah (Orji) is having the season of her life. I’m excited to compete against her. She’s jumping in the 22s all the time. And she’s pretty consistent.”

Kyprianou said if all 10 Georgia women finish in the top three in their respective events, the Bulldogs should claim the national title. That goal allows for little margin of error, but Kyprianou said it’s possible.

Also competing at the NCAA meet is Penn State junior Isaiah Harris of Lewiston, who is seeded fourth in the 800 with a time of 1 minute, 46.80 seconds. Harris finished second last year with a time of 1:45.4, then went on to finish second at the U.S. championships (1:44.53).

On Wednesday, Harris advanced to Friday’s finals with a semifinal time of 1:46.99. In the finals, he will go up against the top-ranked runner in the world: Michael Saruni of Kenya, who has run 1:43.25 for the University of Texas-El Paso.

Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or:

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