OXFORD, Miss. - The calendar year has turned the page to 2013, which means a new year for the Ole Miss men's and women's track & field teams to compete in the controlled conditions of an indoor track facility.
The Rebels' first meet of 2013 is the Blazer Invite this Thursday and Friday, hosted by UAB at the Birmingham CrossPlex. The men's and women's 5,000 meters will be run at 7 p.m. on Thursday, while all other events will take place Friday, beginning at 8 a.m. and running through about 5 p.m.
The Ole Miss men are ranked No. 23 in the preseason indoor projections released this week by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association after finishing the 2012 indoor season ranked 56th.
"Anytime you have a ranking, it propels some excitement into your program and it shows how hard these young men have worked," said first-year head coach Brian O'Neal. "But it's the beginning of the season, and we don't want to look at press clippings or rankings, we just want to get better week to week."
There have actually already been a handful of early meets this season, including the Rebels' appearance at the Panther Indoor Icebreaker on Dec. 1, also held at the Birmingham CrossPlex.
Highlighting the top performances by the Rebels last time in Birmingham was sophomore Sam Kendricks breaking his own school record in the pole vault. The Oxford, Miss., native cleared 17-6.5 to win the competition and set a new meet record. That mark currently ranks No. 2 in the nation.
Senior Ricky Robertson is expected to provide more elite performances in his final season as a Rebel. The Hernando, Miss., native is a six-time All-American and five-time SEC champion in the high jump, while he is a two-time honorable mention All-American in the triple jump and one of the Rebels' top long jumpers, as well.
Elite short sprinter Mike Granger remains out after offseason knee surgery, and Olympian sprinter Isiah Young has exhausted indoor eligibility and will return for his senior season when outdoor begins in March.
The Ole Miss women were led in their first meet by freshman sprinter Asia Cooper, who hails from Jackson, Miss. Cooper set a meet record by winning the 60 meters in 7.45 and placed fourth in the 200 with a time of 24.80. She currently ranks 12th in the nation in the 100 and 19th in the 200.
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