COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Three members of the No. 20 Ole Miss men's team turned in top preliminary efforts Friday to advance to the finals at the nation's premier track & field league meet, the SEC Indoor Championships at Texas A&M.
"I thought our kids were courageous and stood in there and fought," said Ole Miss head coach Brian O'Neal. "There were a lot of personal bests today. We're going to line up and compete with pride tomorrow. We have some good scoring opportunities, and we plan to take advantage of each one of them."
Sophomore Onyi Afoaku scored the first point of the weekend for the 20th-ranked Rebels with his eighth-place finish in the weight throw. The Bloomington, Ind., native tossed a personal-best throw of 63-2 that moved him into a tie for second-best in school history.
The Rebels' biggest performances of the day came from some talented newcomers in the preliminary rounds of the mile and 60 meters.
Freshman Sean Tobin raced to the best time in the mile prelims with a 4:06.70 that makes him one of the favorites for Saturday's 1:40 p.m. championship final. Junior Daniel Bulmer ran 4:09.75 to place 10th and earn the last spot in the final. The newcomers from Ireland and Australia ranked second and third in the SEC, respectively, entering the league meet. Freshman Trevor Gilley finished 11th in 4:10.99 and just missed advancing to the final.
In the 60 meters, Jalen Miller showed once again what makes him one of the country's top freshmen in the shortest indoor sprint. The Tunica, Miss., native won his heat and clocked the third-fastest time of the day in 6.63 to advance to Saturday's 1:20 p.m. final. Unfortunately, fifth-year senior Mike Granger, a three-time scorer in the event, did not advance after running a 6.74 for 11th overall.
Several Rebels ran personal bests in the men's 800 meters, led by freshman Will Spiers with a time of 1:51.04 that placed him 13th overall and moved him up to No. 5 in school history. Another newcomer, JUCO transfer Holland Sherrer, moved up to No. 9 in school history with a 1:52.32.
In the 200 meters, freshman Kailo Moore ran a 21.38 that would have ranked him sixth-best in school history, but he was disqualified due to a lane violation.
The top women's performer on Friday was junior Taryn Hartfield in the 60-meter hurdles. Despite twisting her ankle earlier in the week and then again in warm-ups, Hartfield gutted out a personal-best 8.42 to place ninth overall and one spot out of a championship final berth.
Saturday looks to be a big day for the Rebel men. In addition to Tobin, Bulmer and Miller, Ole Miss will have quality scoring chances in the pole vault (Sam Kendricks), shot put (Afoaku), distance medley relay and 4x400-meter relay.
Action begins at 1 p.m. and culminates with the always exciting 4x400-meter relays at 4:50 (men) and 5:05 (women).
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