March 21, 2013
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OXFORD, Miss. - Ole Miss will move from the 200-meter indoor track to the 400-meter outdoor track with the start of outdoor season this weekend. The Rebels will open the season at the Conference Challenge in Starkville, Miss.
The Conference Challenge, hosted by Mississippi State, will feature teams from the SEC, Big Ten and other conferences. Points will be awarded for finishing in the top six positions of each event to determine a conference winner on both the men's and women's sides.
Action at the Bulldogs' Carl Maddox Track Facility begins Saturday at 11 a.m. with the women's javelin. All running events will begin at noon on Saturday, starting with the women's 3000-meter steeplechase.
"We're excited to get started this weekend," head coach Brian O'Neal said. "We're excited for a lot of different reasons. Outdoor is particularly our time of the year. The warmer the weather gets, hopefully the warmer we get."
The Ole Miss men are coming off a 23rd-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships earlier this month and will add 2012 Olympian Isiah Young to the mix for outdoor season. O'Neal's Rebel men are ranked No. 11 in the USTFCCCA preseason outdoor rankings.
Young, a senior from Junction City, Kan., was the SEC 200 meter champion last year and ran the 200 for Team USA at the London Olympics. He broke the Ole Miss records in the 100 and 200 last year. This will be his first action of 2013 because his indoor eligibility was exhausted in 2012.
"I think any time you have a star on your team and someone that's as likeable as Isiah - all the athletes around him see the amount of work that he puts into his craft and wanting to be the best there is not just on this campus or in this conference or the national meet, but to be one of the world's elite - anytime you have one of those type of guys on your side, you feel a lot more confident going into meets," O'Neal said.
The Rebels also boast 2013 Indoor All-Americans Ricky Robertson (high jump, triple jump) and Sam Kendricks (pole vault). Robertson was last year's USTFCCCA South Region Field Athlete of the Year, while Kendricks has broken the school's pole vault records on numerous occasions as just a sophomore.
The Ole Miss men placed sixth at last year's SEC Outdoor Championships in Baton Rouge and 38th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
Headlining the Rebel women is freshman Asia Cooper, who earned first team Indoor All-America honors in the 60 meters earlier this month.
Other top athletes for the women include last year's SEC heptathlon runner-up and Outdoor All-American Fabia McDonald, triple jumper Marci Morman (third in SEC last year), pole vaulter Neal Tisher (third in SEC last year) and distance runner Katie Breathitt (fifth in SEC 3000m steeplechase last year).
The Ole Miss women placed seventh at last year's SEC Outdoor Championships in Baton Rouge.