BIRMINGHAM, Ala - Ole Miss athletes claimed eight victories, set one meet record and posted some of the top marks in school history with a stellar indoor track & field season debut at the BSC Panther Indoor Icebreaker on Friday.
"This was a good meet for us," said head coach Brian O'Neal. "What we want to do is get better every meet. I'm definitely proud of the way the kids stepped up and competed today. They fought hard in every event. We're ahead of where we were at this time last year."
In his first college meet, freshman Jalen Miller showed that he could be a force for the Rebels this year. He won the 200 meters with a time of 21.48 that makes him the eighth-fastest indoor 200-meter runner in school history. The Tunica, Miss., native also ran a 6.70 to finish runner-up in the 60 meter finals. That time makes him the fifth-fastest in school history over 60 meters.
Senior Mike Granger crossed the line just behind Miller at 6.72 for third place overall in the 60. Granger, a four-time All-American including an NCAA runner-up finish in the 60, was back on the track after missing all of last year with an ACL injury and earning a medical redshirt.
Junior Robert Semien turned in a personal-best performance to win the 60-meter hurdles. His time of 7.91 improved his standing as the fourth-best in school history in that event.
Ole Miss dominated the men's weight throw as Rebels finished 1-2-3 in the first event of the day. Sophomore Onyi Afoaku won the event with a personal-best 62-6.75 that ranks him third-best in school history. Illinois transfer Nathan Loe came in second place with a mark of 59-11.25 that immediately ranks him fourth-best in school history in his first meet as a Rebel. Freshman Marcus Franklin's mark of 57-5.5 lands him at No. 7 in the school record books after his first meet.
Afoaku added a victory in the shot put later in the day with a winning throw of 52-6.5.
Junior Sam Kendricks, the reigning NCAA outdoor pole vault champion, easily won the pole vault competition in Birmingham with a mark of 17-5, a foot-and-a-half better than the runner-up.
Junior Malcolm Davis posted a double victory in the long jump and high jump. His best long jump measured 23-4.5, while he tied for the best high jump with a mark of 6-6.75.
Senior Fabia McDonald led the way for the Ole Miss women with a spectacular performance in the long jump. She set a meet record with a huge personal best of 20-3.5 that moves her up to No. 6 in the school record books. The Rebels finished 1-2-3-4 in the event, including newcomer Kierra White, a junior college transfer, placing second with a mark of 19-7.5 that puts her in the top 10 in school history, as well.
Sophomore Asia Cooper and freshman Kennadi Bouyer turned in strong season-opening performances in the 60 meters. Cooper placed runner-up in 7.53 and Bouyer finished fourth overall in 7.58.
Making her college debut, freshman Breanna Tate finished fourth in the 200 meters with a time of 24.93 to lead the Rebels in that event.
Junior Taryn Hartfield and McDonald placed third and fourth, respectively, in the 60-meter hurdles with times of 8.51 and 8.60. McDonald's prelim time of 8.58 was a personal best and moves her up to fourth-best in school history.
Ole Miss will be off during the winter break before returning to action back at the Birmingham CrossPlex on Jan. 10-11 for the UAB Blazer Invitational.
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