FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - There were only two Ole Miss Rebels competing on the first day of the NCAA Indoor Championships Friday, but they made the most of their opportunity.
Sam Kendricks shattered his own school record in the pole vault en route to a third-place finish, and Asia Cooper advanced in the women's 60 meters at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
"We had two opportunities tonight, and it worked out well for us in both cases," said head coach Brian O'Neal.
Kendricks, a sophomore from Oxford, Miss., had the biggest performance of his stellar collegiate career to date. He cleared 18-4.5 to shatter his own school record (18-1.75 from earlier this season) and finished third behind Arkansas' Andrew Irwin and Oral Roberts' Jack Whitt.
"Sam came into the national championships and set two school records and two personal bests for an incredible night," O'Neal said. "We have three scoring opportunities on the men's side and we're looking to make the most of each one of those.
"Last year Sam's mark would have won the national meet, so that lets you know tonight was definitely a strong competition."
Kendricks garnered six points for the Ole Miss men, who entered the national meet ranked 23rd. He achieved the highest national indoor pole vault finish in school history, besting a fourth-place result by Baker Vinci in 1985. Kendricks earned 10th place at last year's NCAA Outdoor Championships, his best national finish before this weekend.
Cooper earned a spot in Saturday's 60 meter final by running a 7.31, claiming the eighth and last spot. The Jackson, Miss., native is one of two freshmen who advanced to the final at this shortest and fastest race of the national indoor meet. She tied her personal-best time, which she previously set at the Don Kirby Elite Invitational in Albuquerque when she actually ran a 7.29 that was converted to 7.31 due to the altitude.
"I'm proud of the way that Asia came in here and competed tonight," O'Neal said. "She was composed. The name of the game was to advance, and she did that. She's back with our trainer, Corbit Franks, getting treatment and getting ready to go tomorrow. We expect her to come out and compete with pride."
Cooper is the second Ole Miss woman ever to advance to the 60 meter final. Teneeshia Jones placed third in 2000 and seventh in 2001.
The women's 60 meter final will take place at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday. Fans can watch the ESPN3 live stream here.
Senior Ricky Robertson will compete in the men's high jump (3:30 p.m.) and triple jump (6 p.m.) on Saturday.
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