BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Ole Miss athletes broke one school record and set two meet records during the Auburn Indoor Invitational at the Birmingham CrossPlex on Saturday.
"It's important for us to remember that we're still in the month of January and still in a training phase," Ole Miss head coach Brian O'Neal said. "We're five weeks away from the SEC Championships, so what I'm looking for is to challenge ourselves to compete at a high level and to represent the Rebel Nation well. We had some pockets of success today. Our distance runners competed in their first track meet of the year, and it was good to have our complete team there with the sprints, jumps, hurdles and throws."
For the No. 23-ranked Rebel men, competing against the likes of No. 11 Auburn, No. 16 Florida State and No. 20 Mississippi State, it was again senior Ricky Robertson and sophomore Sam Kendricks putting on a record-breaking show for the fans.
Robertson did not compete in his signature event, the high jump, but all he did instead was win the triple jump with a meet-record leap of 52-8.25 that is the best jump in the NCAA so far this year. A personal best for the six-time All-American from Hernando, Miss., the mark ranks him third in school history in the event.
"Ricky was Ricky today," O'Neal said. "On his first attempt he becomes the NCAA leader and No. 3 all-time at Ole Miss. He continues to show that he's a well-rounded, high-level athlete that is capable of producing points for this team in all three jumps."
Kendricks broke the meet record in the pole vault, clearing 17-8.5 before missing on three attempts at what would have been a school-record 18-4.5. The Oxford, Miss., native broke his own school record last weekend with a vault of 18-1.75, tied for the best by an American this indoor season.
"Again it's indicative of the way our jumps group at Ole Miss is performing at an extremely high level," O'Neal said. "Sam pushed his record to 3-0. Instead of just going for a meet record or school record, he's beginning to think of himself as a contender for the national championship. He was competing at the bar that would have established him as the national leader and came up just a little short."
Montez Griffin, a junior from Batesville, Miss., also had a quality outing for the Rebel men. Griffin placed seventh in the 400 meters (48.20) and led the 4x400 meter relay team to a fourth-place result (3:15.71).
The Rebel distance runners competed in their first indoor meet of the season, and the women showed up in a huge way against nationally ranked teams in No. 1 Clemson, No. 11 UCF, No. 17 Georgia and No. 24 Auburn.
Sophomore Haley Cutright was victorious in the 1-mile run with a school-record time of 4:50.47. The previous school record of 4:50.71 had been held by Rachel Ellison since the 2004 SEC Championships. Cutright, who hails from Roanoke, Va., also placed eighth in the 3,000 meters with a personal-best time of 9:53.06 that ranks her fourth-best in school history.
Senior Anne Threlkeld, a native of Oxford, Miss., was sixth in the 1-mile with a time of 4:58.02 that ranks her fourth-best in school history and finished seventh in the 3,000 meters with a time of 9:52.98 that ranks her third-best in the school record books.
"I was really impressed with Haley Cutright," O'Neal said. "For her to produce a school record the first time she touched the track, she arrived today as one of our new stars. I was excited to see that for her. Anne had a nice opener, as well, with two PRs. And I was proud of our women's DMR. To challenge the school record with all those young ladies running their second races of the day I thought was a gutsy performance."
In the sprints, it was freshman Asia Cooper continuing her assault on the Rebel record books for the third meet in a row. The Jackson, Miss., product crossed the finish line fifth in the 60-meter finals with a season-best time of 7.44 that ranks her tied for fifth in school history. It also ranks her 22nd nationally this season.
"That was Asia's first time being in this facility with the nation's elite in the short sprints, and she showed she was one of the ones to beat. She didn't have the start that she and I were anticipating, but I've been really proud of her consistency all season. She has a big future wearing the Red and Blue."
Long jump was a solid event for the Rebels, with Marci Morman placing fourth at 19-2 and volleyball player Allegra Wells getting fifth at 19-1.25 in her first meet of the season.
Senior Sofia Hellberg-Jonsen, who entered the meet ranked top 30 in the nation in the 800 meters, raced to a fourth-place finish on Saturday in 2:11.28, a season best.
After winning the weight throw competition at her first two meets of the year, senior Jazmin Miller placed third on Saturday and surpassed 60 feet again with a mark of 60-8.5. Her season-best throw of 62-8.75 ranks her 28th nationally.
Ole Miss will return to action this upcoming Friday at the A-State Invitational in Jonesboro, Ark.
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