ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A day after the Don Kirby Elite Invitational, Ole Miss athletes were back on the indoor track for a successful Saturday showing at the Don Kirby Open, hosted by the University of New Mexico.
Four members of Ole Miss' No. 17-ranked men's team claimed victories at the Don Kirby Open, while the Rebel women finished runner-up in three events.
With just two weeks until the SEC Indoor Championships, several Ole Miss athletes were able to improve on their season bests and move up in the national rankings.
Kendricks won his fourth pole vault title in as many tries this season. He demolished the competition by clearing 18-0.5, just shy of his school-record 18-1.75 from earlier this year that ranks him tied for fifth in the NCAA. The Oxford, Miss., native is the only Rebel vaulter to ever clear 18 feet.
Robertson claimed victory in his third-best event, the long jump, with a season-best indoor mark of 24-7.25. It moves him up to 19th in the nation this year. The Hernando, Miss., native already ranks second nationally in the high jump (7-6) and sixth in the triple jump (52-8.25).
A pair of Rebel throwers earned victories on the weekend. Junior Benjamin Lapane captured his first career weight throw triumph with a personal-best mark of 59-9.75 that now ranks him third-best in school history. Freshman Onyi Afoaku earned his first college win with a shot put of 54-11.5 that ranks him third-best in school history.
The women got runner-up finishes from senior Marci Morman in the long and triple jumps and senior Jazmin Miller in the weight throw.
Morman, who hails from Memphis, Tenn., had season bests in the long and triple jumps to capture second place in each. She notched a personal best of 19-7 in the long jump and soared to a season best of 40-3.25 in the triple, just an inch and a half from her all-time best. She now ranks 56th nationally in the long and 59th in the triple.
Miller, a native of Hiram, Ga., placed second in the weight throw with a mark of 63-4.25, just one day after recording a personal best of 64-8.75 that ranks her 27th in the NCAA this year.
Freshman Asia Cooper clocked the fastest 60-meter time in Saturday's prelims (7.50), but chose not to compete in the finals. On Friday, the Jackson, Miss., native sprinted to a personal-best 7.31 (converted from 7.29 for altitude) to finish runner-up at the elite competition. She now ranks eighth in the NCAA this year, first among all freshmen.
The Rebels will now set their sights on a big showing in Fayetteville, Ark, for the Feb. 22-24 SEC Championships. Last year, the men finished sixth and the women placed eighth. Already considered among the best, if not the best, track conference in the nation, the SEC will be even tougher this year with the addition of track superpower Texas A&M and Missouri.
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