OXFORD, Miss. - Led by high flyers Sam Kendricks and Ricky Robertson, the Ole Miss track & field teams will travel to Birmingham, Ala., for the Auburn Indoor Invitational this Saturday.
The Rebels' third straight meet at the Birmingham CrossPlex, this time hosted by Auburn, will feature some of the nation's top indoor track & field squads.
In addition to the No. 23 Ole Miss men, other nationally ranked men's teams in the USTFCCCA preseason poll include No. 11 Auburn, No. 16 Florida State and No. 20 Mississippi State. Fellow SEC teams Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina will also be in attendance.
On the women's side, No. 1 Clemson highlights the field, which also includes No. 11 UCF, No. 17 Georgia, No. 24 Auburn and fellow SEC schools Alabama, Mississippi State and South Carolina.
"Each of these meets have gotten more and more competitive," head coach Brian O'Neal said. "It's getting tougher and tougher each time out. This weekend we expect nothing less than competing with pride and passion. When we put on the Ole Miss jersey, we understand what that means."
Competition gets underway with the weight throw at 9 a.m. The last scheduled events are the men's and women's 4x400 meter relays at 8 p.m.
Kendricks, a sophomore from Oxford, Miss., is the reigning SEC Co-Field Athlete of the Week. Last Friday, he shattered his own school record in the pole vault with a mark of 18-1.75 - his career best for indoors or outdoors - to overwhelm the competition at the UAB Blazer Invitational. His vault is tied for the best by an American this indoor season and ranks among the top-10 in the world. He is tied for second among NCAA pole vaulters.
Robertson had an outstanding day at the Blazer Invite as well, clearing 7-2.5 to win the high jump and tie the meet record. The senior from Hernando, Miss., also placed second in the long jump with a mark of 24-1.5. Robertson currently ranks fifth nationally in the high jump and 14th in the long jump.
"I think everybody gravitates to being around winners," O'Neal said. "When you have headliners such as Ricky and Sam, who are complete team players and work hard, it's a great feeling as a coach and a teammate watching them compete like that. It does nothing but energizes our team."
Other Rebels who rank highly on the NCAA indoor lists include Morris Kersh in the triple jump (21st, 48-11.5) and Montez Griffin in the 400 (40th, 48.48).
The Ole Miss women had a strong showing last Friday and were again led by freshman Asia Cooper and senior Jazmin Miller for the second time in as many meets. Both repeated as event champions - Cooper in the 60 meters and Miller in the weight throw.
Cooper, a rookie from Jackson, Miss., ranks top four among SEC freshmen in both the 60 (7.45) and the 200 (24.54). She is 24th in the NCAA in the 60 and 47th in the 200.
Miller ranks 24th in the NCAA and third in the SEC in the weight throw (62-8.75). Other Rebels who rank highly on the NCAA indoor lists include Marci Morman in the triple jump (23rd, 40-0.75), Sofia Hellberg-Jonsen in the 800 (28th, 2:13.33), Fabia McDonald in the long jump (28th, 19-2) and Deonna Walton in the triple jump (34th, 39-5.75).
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