OXFORD, Miss. - Two facility records and a school record highlighted the Rebels' strong outdoor season debut at the Ole Miss Open on Saturday.
"It's always good to compete at home," head coach Brian O'Neal said. "Our kids look forward to wearing the Red and Blue and competing in front of their family and friends."
On the day, Ole Miss athletes claimed 12 event titles while competing against a field of 13 teams that included Division I regional foes Memphis, Arkansas State, Arkansas-Little Rock and Austin Peay. Additionally, three current Rebels won event titles as unattached athletes on Saturday.
Veteran All-Americans Sam Kendricks and Ricky Robertson were up to their usual tricks for the highly regarded Ole Miss men's team on an overcast, but pleasant day at the Ole Miss Track & Field Complex.
Kendricks, a junior from Oxford, cleared 18-2 in the pole vault to break his own facility record that he broke twice last season. The reigning NCAA outdoor champion and NCAA indoor runner-up has now cleared 18 feet in eight of his last nine competitions (indoor and outdoor combined).
Robertson, a fifth-year senior from Hernando, returned from a redshirt season and showed no signs of rust. He equaled his own facility record of 7-5 in the high jump and nearly had a clearance at 7-7.25 that would have tied his school record set at the 2012 Florida Relays.
Sophomore Nathan Loe, a transfer from Illinois, made his Rebel outdoor debut a memorable one by setting a school record in the hammer throw with a mark of 202-1. He bested the previous record of 201-7 by Stacy Andrews in 2003.
Freshman sprinter Jalen Miller had an outstanding outdoor collegiate debut, winning the 100 and 200 meters and anchoring the victorious 4x100-meter relay team.
After recently earning first team All-America distinction in the indoor 60 meters, Miller showed he will be a force to reckon with in the 100, as well. He beat a star-studded field by clocking a personal-best 10.29 that ranks him No. 6 on the school's all-time outdoor list. Among those he defeated were Olympian Isiah Young, All-American Mike Granger and fellow freshman Kailo Moore. The Tunica, Miss., native won the 200 in 21.25 and led the 4x100 relay team (Granger, Moore, Anthony Branch, Miller) to a solid season-opening time of 40.22.
Junior Robert Semien posted a strong season opening time of 14.15 to win the 110-meter hurdles, just off his personal best of 14.10 that placed him fourth at last year's SEC Championships.
Other Ole Miss event winners on the men's side were Dameon Morgan in the 800 (1:52.41) and Phillip Young in the long jump (24-9.75).
On the women's side, junior Taryn Hartfield led the way with her win the 100-meter hurdles in 13.88.
Junior McKenna Coughlin won the 3,000-meter steeplechase in a personal-best 11:05.15, which ranks her fifth in school history.
Among the Rebels competing unattached, freshman Dempsey McGuigan won the men's hammer throw with a very strong mark of 217-9.75 that would have easily broken the school record. For the women, junior Jhorden Hunter won the 100 meters in 11.73, and junior Khadijah Suleman won the 200 meters in 24.22.
Ole Miss travels to the Texas Relays next week for its second outdoor meet of the year.
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