BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -Sam Kendricks set another meet record and freshman Jalen Miller showed off his impressive sprinting chops to lead the Ole Miss track & field team at the highly competitive Auburn Invitational on Saturday.
With the 16th-ranked Ole Miss men squaring off against five other ranked teams in addition to other SEC and ACC schools and a few professional athletes, Kendricks once again stole the show in the pole vault. The junior from Oxford, Miss., set his third meet record in as many tries this season, this time clearing 18-0.5 to defeat the next closest vaulter by nearly a foot and a half. He cleared every bar on the first attempt up to 18-0.5, then had two unsuccessful tries at 18-5.25 to break his own school and facility record before retiring for the day.
Miller was equally impressive in his efforts at 60 and 200 meters on Saturday. Running in just the third indoor meet of his career, he set personal bests of 6.67 in the 60 and 21.45 in the 200, which will both rank highly in the NCAA after all the weekend performances are recorded. He finished first among collegians in the 60 and second in the 200. The Tunica, Miss., native now ranks fifth in school history in the 60 and eighth in the 200.
"I thought this weekend we continued some of the momentum from last weekend," Rebel head coach Brian O'Neal said. "We had some new stars step up for us. I am really proud of Jalen. Pretty much everyone in front of him in our school record books was an NCAA champion or NCAA runner-up.
"I definitely like the progression our team is taking. I think each week our young men and young women are toeing the line and giving their all. As coaches, we're looking for them to continue that development into next weekend when we compete at Vanderbilt."
In total, Ole Miss athletes produced one event title, two runners-up, one meet record and numerous personal bests on Saturday.
Senior Phillip Young, a three-time All-American in the triple jump at Florida State before transferring to Oxford, recorded an indoor personal best of 52-2.5 to place second at the meet. That mark also ranks him top five in the NCAA this year and fifth-best in school history.
Sophomore Onyi Afoaku produced indoor personal bests in both the weight throw (62-10.75) and shot put (55-5.5) on Saturday. He ranks third in school history in both events and among the NCAA leaders in the weight throw.
Freshman Robert Domanic made his indoor collegiate debut with a strong mile time of 4:07.20 that immediately ranks him fifth-best in school history and among the NCAA leaders this year.
Senior Ricky Robertson, who only has outdoor eligibility left, competed unattached on Saturday and won the men's high jump with a fantastic season debut of 7-4.25, tying his own meet record that he set in 2012.
For the Rebel women, senior Jhorden Hunter posted a solid 7.52, just .02 off her season best in the 60 meters, to place first among collegians on Saturday. She also led the Rebels in the 200 with a time of 24.65 to finish eighth overall.
On Thursday, All-American multi-eventers Fabia McDonald and Mary Ashton Nall competed in their first pentathlon of the season at the Birmingham CrossPlex. McDonald's runner-up score of 3.989 ranks her No. 2 in the NCAA this year, while Nall's 3,503 places her among the nation's top 20, as well.
Ole Miss track & field alum Isiah Young, who still trains in Oxford, was also at the meet in Birmingham, gearing up for his world-class professional indoor season. The Nike-sponsored sprinter ran the 60 meters in a time of 6.68 in one of his first tune-ups of the year.
The Rebels return to action on Friday and Saturday at the Vanderbilt Indoor Invitational in Nashville, Tenn. It will be the first time this indoor season that O'Neal's team will travel somewhere other than Birmingham.
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