JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A total of seven Ole Miss athletes qualified for the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, highlighted by six Rebels advancing on Saturday, the final day of the NCAA East Preliminary.
"I'm really proud of our athletes and proud of their effort," said head coach Brian O'Neal. "We gave ourselves a chance with some scoring opportunities in the next round of the NCAA Championships."
The Rebels' seven men are the most to make the NCAA Outdoor Championships since also taking seven in 2011.
"I thought it was a good day for us," O'Neal added. "Everyone competed hard. We left it all out on the track. From Sam in the pole vault to the 4x4, I was proud of our effort we gave today."
Junior Sam Kendricks, the defending NCAA outdoor champion in the pole vault, again qualified for the national meet, which will take place June 11-14 in Eugene, Oregon. The Oxford, Mississippi, native was the top qualifier among the 12 vaulters that cleared 17-5.5 on Saturday.
Kendricks, who helped Ole Miss to a program-best eighth-place team finish last year, will be making his third straight appearance at the NCAA outdoor meet.
The 4x100-meter relay quartet of senior Mike Granger, freshman Jalen Miller, senior Creighton Serrette and freshman Kailo Moore shattered the school record with their time of 39.34 to win their heat and also advance to Eugene. The previous record of 39.56 was set in 2002, which was the last time that the Ole Miss men had a 4x100 squad compete at the NCAA Championships. Only four schools ran faster than Ole Miss in Jacksonville.
Granger will make his second career appearance at the NCAA outdoor meet, while Miller, Serrette and Moore all make it for the first time.
Junior Robert Semien is advancing to the NCAA outdoor meet for the first time in his career after he placed 11th in the 110-meter hurdles Saturday with a personal-best time of 13.80. The Houston, Texas, native moves up to fourth in school history with his career-best effort. He is Ole Miss' first 110-meter hurdler to make the NCAA outdoor meet since John Yarbrough in 2007.
Senior Ricky Robertson, the 2014 SEC Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year, tried to compete through injury all weekend, but he did not qualify in any of his three events (long jump, triple jump, high jump). The Hernando, Mississippi, native's incredible college career comes to an end. He ranked No. 2 in the NCAA this year in both the high jump and the triple jump and finished as a seven-time All-American, seven-time SEC Champion and two-time SEC Athlete of the Year during his five seasons.
"My heart goes out to Ricky," O'Neal said. "He's had such a great year. He's really worked his tail off all year for a chance to lead us into the NCAA Championships, and I'm disappointed for him that he won't get that opportunity."
Other close calls on Saturday came from freshman Robert Domanic (15th place, 3:46.45) and freshman Sean Tobin (19th place, 3:47.87) in the 1,500 meter quarterfinals.
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