Top Competition Awaits Nationally Ranked Rebels In Gainesville
April 5, 2012
OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss athletes have posted some of the top marks not only in the NCAA but in the world this year, and they will line up against some stiff competition this weekend in Gainesville, Fla., at the 68th Pepsi Florida Relays hosted by the University of Florida.
“This meet gives us a slight step up in competition and we’ll see teams that we don’t often see in the regular season, so it should be a good test for us,” Rebel coach Joe Walker said. “The weather is usually good and that helps performances.”
One of the most prestigious track and field meets in the country, the Florida Relays attract more than 3,000 athletes from the high school, collegiate and international ranks.
Nationally ranked men’s teams in attendance will be No. 1 Florida, No. 3 Florida State, No. 11 Indiana, No. 14 Ole Miss, No. 17 Virginia Tech and No. 18 Georgia, as well as fellow SEC members Kentucky and South Carolina.
Nationally ranked women’s teams set to compete are No. 3 Clemson, No. 8 Texas, No. 11 Florida, No. 12 Georgia, No. 13 UCF and No. 22 Florida State, as well as fellow SEC members Kentucky and South Carolina.
Following an outstanding Ole Miss Invitational, the Rebel men jumped seven spots to No. 14 in the latest USTFCCCA poll, while a total of seven schools from the Southeastern Conference rank in this week’s men’s top 25.
Junior All-American Ricky Robertson remains the national leader in the high jump after jumping a season-best 7-5 last weekend, which also ranks him second in the world this outdoor season behind Frenchman Mickael Hanany (7-7). Robertson ranks second nationally in the triple jump with a season-best jump of 53-1.75 at the Ole Miss Invitational.
The junior All-American duo of Mike Granger and Isiah Young both rank in the top 10 nationally in the 100 meters. Young is fifth after clocking a 10.16 at the SEC/Big Ten Challenge, while Granger sits at seventh after winning the event with a time of 10.19 at last weekend’s Ole Miss Invitational. Excluding wind-assisted times with a meter reading above 2.0, Young ranks second in the world this year and Granger is fifth.
Young has also been very impressive in the 200 meters, where he ranks second nationally and fifth in the world after running a career-best 20.49 at the Ole Miss Invitational. His time of 20.49 broke the 28-year old school record held by Tony Dees and also topped three-time world champion Tyson Gay’s former Ole Miss facility record.
Along with Robertson, two other Rebel athletes currently rank among the nation’s top 15 in the triple jump. Sophomore Kentrell Sanders ranks fourth (52-2.5) and Pearl, Miss., native junior All-American Morris Kersh ranks 15th (51-0).
In the men’s pole vault, freshman Sam Kendricks ranks 12th nationally (second-best among SEC athletes) and is currently tied for second-best in school history in the event following a season-best jump of 17-4.5 last weekend.
The men’s 4x400 meter relay team of Dante Oliver, Montez Griffin, Carson Blanks and Brian Word rank 15th among schools in the nation (3:08.18), while Granger, Young, Creighton Serrette and Bradley Shields rank 13th among NCAA schools in the 4x100 meter relay (39.90).
Following a season-best 400 meter time of 47.27, last weekend, Oliver ranks 32nd nationally in the event (third-best among SEC athletes).
On the women’s side, senior Kristin Bridges ranks third nationally in the 400 meters coming off a personal-best time of 53.20 at the Ole Miss Invitational. She ranks fourth in school history in that event.
Neal Tisher ranks 17th nationally in the pole vault (fifth-best among SEC athletes) with a season-best height of 13-7 at the Alabama Relays.
After clocking a season-best 4x400 meter relay time of 3:37.23, the Rebel women’s team of Lauren Hollingsworth, Sofia Hellberg-Jonsen, Monica Williams and Bridges currently ranks No. 11 among NCAA schools (fourth-best in the SEC).
After breaking the school record in the 5,000 meters last weekend with a time of 16:48.64, senior Logan Waites ranks 30th nationally in the event (second-best among SEC athletes). Teammate Katie Breathitt ranks 36th nationally in the event and third-best among SEC athletes with a time of 16:55.49.
Jasmine Williams ranks 33rd nationally in the 200 meters (second-best among SEC athletes) after her Ole Miss Invitational time of 23.85.
Freshman Taryn Hartfield ranks 41st nationally in the 100-meter hurdles after moving into the school’s top-five record books last weekend.
Last year at the Relays, the Rebels received strong performances by Tisher who captured the pole vault title, Robertson who finished runner-up in the high jump and Brittany Bozeman who placed second in the long jump.
Events Friday will begin at 11 a.m. CT with the men’s hammer throw and conclude after the men’s 5,000 meters at 8:30 p.m. CT. Saturday’s events are scheduled to start at 10 a.m. CT with the men’s discus and will wrap up following the men’s 4x400 meter relay at 6:05 p.m. CT.
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