EUGENE, Ore. - Ole Miss junior Sam Kendricks won his second straight NCAA outdoor pole vault on Wednesday, but it wasn't easy.
Kendricks had a couple of clutch clearances late in the competition to overcome Akron's Shawn Barber on the first day of the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championships in front of 9,165 enthusiastic fans at historic Hayward Field in Track Town USA.
A native of Oxford, Mississippi, Kendricks becomes the first back-to-back NCAA outdoor champion for the Rebels since Savante' Stringfellow won long jump titles in 2000 and 2001. He's the first back-to-back NCAA outdoor pole vault champ since Oregon's Tommy Skipper in 2006 and 2007.
Barber and Tennessee's Jake Blankeship were the leaders through 18-2.5, which was the last height that Blankenship cleared. Kendricks came through in a big way on his third and final attempt at 18-4.5 when he brushed the bar, but it held steady. Then Barber cleared 18-6.5 and Kendricks missed, setting up a fantastic finale that saw Kendricks jump up to 18-8.25, which Barber couldn't match.
"The reward for me came from all the guys I jumped against today," Kendricks said afterward. "Those guys have worked hard their whole lives, just like I have. And they wanted me to make that bar as much as they wanted to make it themselves. So it was very rewarding to know they worked their hardest and I came out on top among friends. And that's what made it a lot of fun."
It was another great duel between the top American collegian (Kendricks) and the top Canadian collegian (Barber). Barber won the duel at this year's NCAA Indoor Championships when he set a Canadian national record, while Kendricks was second with the same height that he cleared to win on Wednesday.
Ole Miss also competed in the 4x100 meter relay semifinals on Wednesday and placed 20th in 40.05 to end its season. The school-record holding quartet of Mike Granger, Jalen Miller, Creighton Serrette and Kailo Moore were in the top three for most of their race (top two in each heat advanced to the final), but couldn't finish it out among a very fast field of teams.
"What a day," head coach Brian O'Neal said. "Great job by Sam. During our team meeting last night, we talked about the things we needed to do this week to be successful. We reminded the team that what makes the NCAA Championships special is everyone will be at their best. Each competitor has worked hard all season long and it comes down to the athlete that can focus on the task at hand, and Sam did just that.
"I can't say enough about how proud we are of Sam. It's great to see the bond that he shares with Coach Kendricks and the confidence they have in each other. Each week we've asked Sam to go out and provide a spark for this team. Week in and week out that's exactly what he's done. That was 10 big points for us. Now we have to continue to build on this as we move on to day two tomorrow and another opportunity for us to advance."
Ole Miss gets 10 team points for Kendricks' victory, which has them in third place overall after day one of four.
"Knowing that my team's eyes are on me wherever they may be in the country gives me an edge," Kendricks added. "Knowing that there are eight other athletes form Ole Miss here as well, that makes it special."
Next up for the Rebels is junior Robert Semien in the 110-meter hurdle semifinals on Thursday. Junior Phillip Young will compete in the triple jump on Saturday.
4x100 Meter Relay Semifinals 20. Ole Miss (Granger, Miller, Serrette, Moore) - 40.05
Ole Miss' historic win over Alabama last Saturday was not only popular with members of Rebel Nation, it was among the most-watched college football games of the year.The Rebels' thrilling 43-37 victory over the Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium was the... read more
By Steven Oubre, Ole Miss Athletics Media RelationsThe road to the College Football Playoff includes many tests along the way. The Ole Miss Rebels (3-0, 1-0 SEC) just passed their first, proving that they are a legitimate contender after knocking... read more
Offense, defense and special teams. Ole Miss dominated all three aspects of the game as the 15th-ranked Rebels routed UT Martin 76-3 in the season opener. The 60,186 fans, mostly dressed in white, anticipated an exciting start to the 2015... read more
It's finally here...game week! It's been 242 days since the Ole Miss Rebels last took to the gridiron for a clash of the helmets. After a successful 2014 campaign in which Ole Miss knocked off a No. 1-ranked team... read more
Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE ATLANTA - On Saturday, fans can tune in to see the Rebels duo of Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze and former Ole Miss basketball player Sean Tuohy compete in the Chick-fil-A... read more
Only 50 days until The Grove is full, the constant shouts of "Hotty Toddy" are in the air, and football kicks off 100 years in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium! Looking forward to this upcoming college football season, seven Rebels were named to... read more
As we near the 2015 college football season, national organizations have started to release watch lists for their respective awards. Through the first week of watch lists being released, multiple Rebels have been announced as players that fans need to... read more
Along with head coach Hugh Freeze, three Rebels will represent Ole Miss at the annual SEC Football Media Days next week. Junior Evan Engram, just named to the John Mackey Award Watch List for college football's most outstanding tight end,... read more
Five Ole Miss Rebels were chosen as preseason All-SEC selections by some of the people who work closest with the student-athletes, the football media relations directors. The 14 football media relations directors of the Southeastern Conference institutions voted in the... read more
The preseason accolades just don't stop for the Ole Miss football team. Everywhere you look, Rebels can be found on preseason All-America teams. Lindy's Sports recognized seven Rebels for preseason honors, including four All-Americans. Four Ole Miss Football Rebels were... read more
With the season just 74 days away, members of the 2015 Ole Miss football team continue to earn recognition on Preseason All-America lists. Athlon Sports, the latest media outlet to release its 2015 college football preseason All-America team, gave five... read more
Preseason All-America football teams continue to roll in, and Ole Miss has been well represented each time.Today, the Sporting News unveiled its preseason All-America first and second teams, which includes a total of four Rebels.OT Laremy Tunsil and DT Robert... read more
Individual preseason accolades continue to pile up for the Ole Miss football team as college football magazines look toward the 2015 season. Athlon Sports is the latest magazine to release its preseason all-conference teams, June 10; the magazine named nine... read more
The start of summer heat and vacations is also the start of another tradition - preseason college football magazines.One of the first to produce a magazine every year is Phil Steele, whose 2015 version includes about as many Ole Miss... read more