BATON ROUGE, La. –Isiah Young and Rachel Jenkins earned SEC individual titles to highlight a strong Ole Miss performance at the 2012 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Bernie Moore Stadium.
Young’s performance helped the Rebel men score 60 points to capture sixth place for the third straight year. Jenkins helped the women place seventh overall with 38.5 points, their best showing since getting sixth in 2008. Arkansas won the overall men’s title, while host LSU captured the women’s championship.
“Overall, we really had a phenomenal meet,” said head coach Joe Walker, who coached at his last SEC Championships after 30 years at Ole Miss and three more at Florida. “We had a lot of kids that weren’t expected to score but rose to the occasion and rallied our team. We had some great performances out of our stars and a couple situations where we thought we’d get some more points from some people. You can see from the team scores that just a point or two here or there make a huge difference. But I thought the competitiveness and effort was there. It was an exciting weekend for the Ole Miss Rebels.”
On the weekend, Ole Miss captured two SEC titles, three runner-up finishes and three school records in Baton Rouge.
On Saturday, Jenkins became 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. The fifth-year senior from Vicksburg, Miss., now ranks fourth in school history and 18th in the nation this year.
Young highlighted a big day for the Rebel men on Sunday when he crossed the finish line in a school-record 20.32 to win the 200 meters. It’s the first SEC 200 meter title ever for a Rebel man, and it came exactly one hour after he finished third in the 100 meters (10.24), as he scored 16 points by himself in the two short sprints.
“I just came off the turn hard and tried to finish strong,” Young said after the race. “It should bump up (our team score) a little bit. I’m just running trying to help the team out. I lost the 100, so I was kind of upset and tried to bounce back in the 200.”
Young entered the SEC meet ranked top four in the nation in both events.
Senior Carson Blanks looked like he had earned a third SEC title for the Rebels in the 400-meter hurdles, but he was declared second in a photo finish with Arkansas’ Caleb Cross by .001 second. His third straight top-three finish at the SEC Outdoors was in a season-best time of 50.30, which moves him up to seventh-best in the NCAA this year.
Freshman sensation Sam Kendricks continued his assault on the record books, breaking his own school record and becoming the first Rebel ever to clear 18 feet in the pole vault. He cleared 18-0.5 to capture second place on Sunday, earning eight points for his team. That mark ranks him in a tie for fourth-best in the NCAA this year.
Ole Miss was outstanding as usual in the men’s triple jump, scoring 11 total team points. Sophomore Kentrell Sanders took third place with a mark of 51-10, which was his highest finish at an SEC meet in his career. Junior Ricky Robertson placed fourth with a jump of 51-4.5. He also placed fourth earlier this year in the SEC indoor triple jump.
Junior Marci Morman scored six points for the Rebel women with a third-place showing in the triple jump. She jumped 41-11.5, just a couple inches shy of her personal best of 42-2.
Robertson failed to capture his sixth straight SEC high jump title, as he walked gingerly around the infield following each long jump, triple jump and finally high jump attempt. He managed to clear 7-2.25 to place fourth in the event. He owns the world-leading mark this year of 7-7.25, a school record.
Other men’s scorers on Sunday were Benjamin Lapane (sixth place in the javelin, 216-10 PR), Riley Young (sixth place in the 1,500 meters, 3:53.96), the men’s 4x400 meter relay (fifth place, 3:07.79) and the men‘s 4x100 meter relay (seventh place, 40.56).
Fabia McDonald and Neal Tisher posted strong results for the Rebel women in their competitions on Friday and Saturday. McDonald captured second place in the heptathlon with a personal-best score of 5,563. Tisher tied for third in the pole vault (13-4.25) and placed fifth in the javelin (140-3). Katie Breathitt broke her own school record and placed fifth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (10:26.64).
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