EUGENE, Ore. - With stellar performances from Sam Kendricks and Isiah Young, the Ole Miss men's track & field team placed eighth at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships for its best finish in school history.
Kendricks, a sophomore from Oxford, Miss., opened the meet at historic Hayward Field in Track Town USA by winning the Rebels' first ever national title in the pole vault on Wednesday. Young, a senior from Junction City, Kan., capped the championships on Saturday by finishing runner-up in the 200 meters.
All total, Ole Miss racked up 24 points to finish eighth in the team standings, the highest in school history for an indoor or outdoor NCAA meet. The previous program record was ninth place at the 1991 indoor meet. The previous best outdoor finish was 12th in 2007.
"It's a proud day for our track and field program," said first-year head coach Brian O'Neal. "I'm proud of every one of our athletes. I thought every one of them stepped to the line and competed with everything they had. We had some successes and some failures, but at the end of the day what we wanted to do was compete. I thought that's what our team did this weekend, and we came away with our best place in school history."
Ole Miss was one of six Southeastern Conference men's teams to place in the top 11. Florida and Texas A&M shared the men's NCAA team title. Arkansas was third, LSU seventh and Alabama 11th.
On Wednesday, Kendricks won his NCAA pole vault title with a clearance of 18-8.25. His title is the 13th individual national championship in program history, while he became the eighth Rebel to win at least one NCAA title. He scored 10 team points with the victory.
Friday saw Young claim the first of his two top-three finishes in the short sprints. He placed third in the 100 meters with a blazing time of 9.96, which lowered his own school record of 9.99 set at the NCAA East Preliminary two weeks ago. His third-place NCAA result is the best in school history in the 100 meters, and he earned six points for the Rebels.
Young was at it again on Saturday, nearly pulling off the Rebels' second national title of the meet, but settling for runner-up in the 200 meters with another fast time of 20.17. His second-place result was again the best in school history at that distance, beating his own previous best of fourth at last year's championships. He added eight more team points to bring the team total to 24, the most by Ole Miss ever at any NCAA Championships.
"Isiah's leadership and maturity level has been incredible," O'Neal said. "He runs a 9.96 and then backs it up with 20.17 in the 200. Those are great numbers, and typically in any other year those are good enough to win. This time that wasn't the case, but it wasn't for lack of effort. He's a star and has been a great ambassador for Ole Miss and our track and field program for the last couple of years. We'll miss him."
Morris Kersh also competed for the Rebel men, placing 24th in the triple jump with a mark of 49-9. The senior from Pearl, Miss., caps his career as a two-time NCAA Championships participant.
On the women's side, Mary Ashton Nall finished the heptathlon with a huge personal best of 5,562 points and placed 14th. The junior from Auburn, Ala., remains third in school history with that score, which is just one point shy of her teammate Fabia McDonald's 5,563 for second-best in the Ole Miss record books.
That concludes the 2012-13 season for Ole Miss, but several Rebels will compete at the upcoming U.S. Championships in hopes of qualifying for this summer's World Championships in Moscow, Russia. Keep up with these athletes' progress at OleMissSports.com and on Facebook and Twitter.
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