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Rebels To Compete Against Nation's Best

Eight women's teams and seven men's teams are ranked in the top 25 entering the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships this weekend in College Station, Texas. Five women's teams are ranked in the top seven in the nation, paced by Florida, which is ranked No. 2. On the men's side, Arkansas, Florida and Texas A&M, in that order, are the top three teams in the nation.

Ole Miss is among the seven SEC teams on the men's side, entering the SEC Indoor Championships as the No. 20-ranked team in the nation.

"If you ask any of the coaches in this league, they would tell you that this is by far the best conference in the United States," head coach Brian O'Neal said. "Our young men and women are just looking forward to competing against the best."

The Ole Miss men have eight athletes ranked, highlighted by junior Sam Kendricks, who jumped 18-8.25 this past weekend at the Albuquerque Convention Center, which ranks him No. 1 in the NCAA, No. 1 among Americans and No. 13 in the world this year. The Ole Miss women have three athletes ranked, led by senior Fabia McDonald who is ranked No. 14 and No. 22 in the pentathlon and long jump, respectively.

The three-day SEC Indoor Championships from Thursday to Saturday in College Station, Texas will be the Rebels' last meet before the NCAA Indoor Championships (March 14-15) and then the start of the outdoor season.

"We're young in a lot of position areas," O'Neal said. "Our young men and women are excited to come in here and compete and see where we stack up against the best and get our feet wet as we compete against the best. The SEC Championship is the pinnacle for us, in terms of the regular season. We're trying to go out there, line up, represent the Red and Blue and compete to the best of our abilities."

SEC In The National Rankings:

MEN

1. Arkansas

2. Florida

3. Texas A&M

12. Alabama

15. LSU

20. Ole Miss

24. Georgia

WOMEN

2. Florida

3. Texas A&M

4. Arkansas

6. Kentucky

7. Georgia

14. LSU

23. Mississippi State

25. Missouri

Track Hands Out Awards At Team Banquet

Photo Gallery Kendricks_banquet13.jpg

Ole Miss Track & Field had an outstanding season in 2012-13, highlighted by the men's No. 8 national outdoor finish (best in school history), the men's No. 23 national indoor finish and the women's No. 4 SEC cross country finish (best in school history).

The team held its annual banquet last week to honor the accolades of last year's team and kick off the new 2013-14 season.

In addition to All-America honors, NCAA Championship participants and SEC Championship awards, here are some of the team awards that were presented by head coach Brian O'Neal at the banquet:

Men's Student-Athlete of the Year: Jonathan Redding
Women's Student-Athlete of the Year: Sofia Hellberg-Jonsen
Men's Outdoor Athlete of the Year: Sam Kendricks
Women's Outdoor Athlete of the Year: Mary Ashton Nall
Men's Indoor Athlete of the Year: Ricky Robertson
Women's Indoor Athlete of the Year: Asia Cooper


Kendricks_060513c_JM.JPG
You've seen the photo. Now here's the story behind the picture from the man himself.



The photo above, courtesy of Josh McCoy, came on his winning pole vault at a height of 18-8.25 feet.

"The funny thing about that moment -- that picture -- is that I went through about five different emotions as I came dwon," Kendricks said. "Josh McCoy snapped that one picture where I was like this, but I was only like that for an instant. And so I was celebrating, and then I was relieved, and then I hit the mat, and it was over."

"With all my friends there and all the coaches, I really still don't know how to feel. I'm excited. I feel proud to be a Rebel. I feel accomplished that I have done this. But at the same time, who can be fully satisfied with something like this. I went there and did what I knew I could do. I just happened to come out victorious in the competition. And right now, I'm looking toward the future."

Kendricks said he never envisioned when he first started vaulting that all this was even a possibility, even to come to Ole Miss, even to jump higher than 14 feet. His grandfather, also Sam, has a flag pole in his front yard, and he moved it up from height to height while Sam jumped in high school, eventually to his highest jump, 17 feet.  Sam said the flag pole didn't go any higher, and his grandfather didn't want to buy a new one. When he arrived home yesterday, he said he saw something that reminded him of the flag pole.

"I see a big banner that says, 'Congratulations, Sam,' and I see all my family standing in the front yard, but I also see something along the column next to the front door, and it's a tape measure," Kendricks said.

"And it goes up and up and up and up, over the balcony, over the second story, and onto our roof, and I realized my mom had climbed on the outside of the balcony and taped it at 18-8.25 feet, way above the second story of our roof."

The immediate future Kendricks talked about is the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which will be held June 20-23 in Des Moines, Iowa, where the top qualifiers will advance to the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Russia, Aug. 10-18. There's also the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which Kendricks said he also thinks about. He is currently ranked second among Americans and seventh in the world this year with a mark of of 19-0.75 feet. 

"I've never done anything on that scale before," he said of representing his country. "Coming to college has been new experience after new experience. And just the possibility that I might be able to put USA on my chest is fulfilling."

"I think every guy need to allow himself those dreams," he said of Rio 2016. "And I hope that in the future I can still be a competitive vaulter, be healthy and be able to represent my country the best I can. The Olympic dream is always out there for a lot of guys, and for me, and I would be really happy if that came to fruition."








Ole Miss NCAA Champions - Track & Field

The NCAA Outdoor Championships are just one day away, and two Ole Miss athletes are among the favorites to claim national titles in their events.

Isiah Young arrives in Eugene, Ore., as the top seed in the men's 100 meters and No. 2 seed in the 200. He is the back-to-back SEC 200 meter champ and is the only collegian to run sub-10 in the 100 this season (9.99 at the NCAA East prelims in Greensboro, N.C.).

Sam Kendricks is the top seed in the men's pole vault at 19-0.75. He is the only collegian to clear 19 feet this year and is fifth-best in NCAA history with that clearance.

With such good title hopes, I wanted to trek down memory lane and look at the Rebels' past NCAA champs, most recently in 2008 when Brittney Reese won the women's indoor and outdoor long jumps en route to being named USTFCCCA National Women's Field Athlete of the Year. She has since enjoyed a pretty decent pro career.

Here's the full list of Ole Miss' all-time NCAA champions:

Men:
1983 - Ralph Spry, outdoor long jump
1991 - George Kersh, indoor 800 meters
1991 - George Kersh, outdoor 800 meters
1994 - Greg Saddler, indoor 55 meters
2000 - Savante' Stringfellow, outdoor long jump
2001 - Savante' Stringfellow, indoor long jump
2001 - Savante' Stringfellow, outdoor long jump
2004 - Antwon Hicks, indoor 60-meter hurdles
2005 - Antwon Hicks, indoor 60-meter hurdles
2007 - Barnabas Kirui, outdoor 3000-meter steeplechase

Women:
2008 - Brittney Reese, indoor long jump
2008 - Brittney Reese, outdoor long jump

Ole Miss Track Among World Elite

Track & Field News published today a comprehensive listing of the best marks in the world and U.S. this year, combining indoors and outdoors (full lists here).

Several current and former Ole Miss athletes found themselves on the lists, as shown below.

Notables include Isiah Young ranked No. 3 in the world and first among Americans in the 200 meters, Sam Kendricks No. 7 in the world and second among Americans in the pole vault and former Rebel Brittney Reese tops in the world in the women's long jump.

Current Rebel men:

Isiah Young - 100m (10.09)
- #9 U.S.

Isiah Young - 200m (20.20)
- #3 World
- #1 U.S.

Ole Miss - 4x100m relay (39.69)
- #26 U.S.

Ricky Robertson - High Jump (7-6)
- #4 U.S.

Sam Kendricks - Pole Vault (19-0.75)
- #7 World
- #2 U.S.

Ricky Robertson - Triple Jump (52-8.25)
- #19 U.S.

Morris Kersh - Triple Jump (51-11.75)
- #36 U.S.

Former Rebel men:

Antwon Hicks - 110m Hurdles (13.25)
- #4 World
- #3 U.S.

Current Rebel women:

Mary Ashton Nall - Heptathlon (5397)
- #29 U.S.

Former Rebel women:

Brittney Reese - Long Jump (23-9.5)
- #1 World
- #1 U.S.
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