BATON ROUGE, La. – Ole Miss senior Rachel Jenkins overcame the odds to win the long jump title and highlight a big day for the Rebel women on the third day of the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships.
Jenkins is the first Rebel to capture an SEC long jump title since former great Brittney Reese in 2008. Jenkins' SEC-winning jump of 20-9.75 came on her very first attempt of the day and gave her team 10 points. She now ranks fourth in school history and 18th in the nation this year.
“Coming in, I knew I had to get my first jump on the board, and that’s what I did,” Jenkins said. “I just went balls to the wall and gave it all I had. It’s been an extremely long road. Last year when I really felt I was at my peak, I tore my ACL in the first meet. I didn’t even plan at first on coming back (to compete as a fifth-year senior). I did a lot of praying. God really helped me a lot. I didn’t think anything like this would be able to happen, but he gave me the desire and the drive to know that I can do this. I have to give him all the glory.”
“It’s neat for Rachel to win the championship as a fifth-year senior,” Rebel head coach Joe Walker said. “We’ve had several kids in our history do that. It’s always exciting when that happens. We’re really proud of her and proud of our women as a group. They stepped up better than we even expected today.”
Junior Marci Morman finished eighth in the long jump to provide another point for the Rebels. Her mark of 20-3.75 was a personal best and ranks her sixth in school history.
Entering Sunday’s final day of competition, the Rebel women are in fifth place with 32.5 team points. The men have not scored yet, but are expected to have some big results from their top athletes on Sunday.
“We had a very good day today, particularly for the women,” Walker said. “Most of our points for the men are points we were expecting to get tomorrow anyway. We lost a couple of points in the men’s long jump, but we advanced the people we needed to advance. Everything’s looking good for tomorrow. It’s just a matter of us showing up.”
Junior Neal Tisher scored points in two different events on Saturday. She tied for third in the pole vault with a clearance of 13-4.25, scoring 5.5 points for the Rebels. She also finished third in that event last year. She scored four points with her fifth-place finish in the javelin. That is tied for best SEC javelin finish by a woman in school history. She threw a mark of 140-3, which was just shy of her personal best of 140-6.
Junior Katie Breathitt shattered her own school record in the 3,000 meter steeplechase with a 10:26.64 en route to a fifth-place finish and four team points. That time ranks her 60th in the NCAA this year. She also finished fifth in the steeplechase at last year’s SEC outdoor meet.
A pair of Ole Miss “Youngs” qualified for Sunday’s finals in their events with strong performances in Saturday’s prelims.
A day after junior Isiah Young was the top qualifier in the 200 meters, he ran the second-fastest 100 meter time of the day (10.14) to move on in that race, as well. He ranks top four in the NCAA in both events.
Junior Riley Young advanced to the finals of the men’s 1,500 meters with his time of 3:53.50 on Saturday.
Sunday’s final day of competition will be feature many of the best Ole Miss athletes, highlighted by world-leading high jumper Ricky Robertson, who has captured five straight SEC titles in his signature event.
Rebel women competing for SEC titles on Sunday include Aria Gaines and Morman in the triple jump, the 4x100 meter relay team, Sofia Hellberg-Jonsen in the 400-meter hurdles, Logan Waites in the 5,000 meters and the 4x400 meter relay team.
The first event of the day will be the men’s javelin (1 p.m.), while the final events will be the crowd-favorite 4x400 meter relays at 6:25 p.m. and 6:35 p.m. There will be a live video stream on ESPN3.com from 3-7 p.m.
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