April 11, 2013
VIDEO: Coach O'Neal meet preview
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OXFORD, Miss. - Olympic gold medalist Brittney Reese, Olympian Isiah Young and current pole vault world leader Sam Kendricks highlight an exciting field for this weekend's Ole Miss Invitational, the Rebels' first of two straight home track & field meets.
Competition gets underway Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Ole Miss Track & Field Complex. Events are slated to run through 8:10 p.m. and will include an exciting primetime lineup around 6-8 p.m. of top events like the women's long jump (Reese), men's 200 meters (Young) and men's pole vault (Kendricks). Saturday will be capped by the always-entertaining 4x400 meter relays.
The men's decathlon and women's heptathlon will begin Saturday and run through Sunday. Multi-events on Sunday are scheduled to start at 10 a.m. There will also be a high school invitational on Friday, beginning at 10:30 a.m.
More than 30 colleges and universities will descend upon Oxford for Saturday's meet, including SEC foe Missouri and other Division I teams from around the region such as Memphis, Southern Miss, UAB, Arkansas State, Jackson State and Southern Illinois.
"It's exciting to be at home," said first-year Ole Miss head coach Brian O'Neal. "We've been on the road traveling since the first of December. To have a chance to compete in front of our family and friends, our kids are excited about it. I think we're going to see some great performances this weekend."
Reese, the reigning Olympic long jump champion, returns to the track where she earned 2008 Women's National Field Athlete of the Year honors as an SEC and NCAA Champion. She went pro early after that 2008 season but continued to take classes in Oxford and graduated from the University in 2011.
"It's exciting to have Brittney back," O'Neal said. "She's been doing her community service by reaching out to kids, which is near and dear to her. She's excited to start her season jumping here with us. I encourage everyone to come out and get a good seat, because it's very rare you get an opportunity to watch someone that holds an American record and is an Olympic gold medalist and is from Mississippi and an Ole Miss alum."
Young, a current senior at Ole Miss, joined Reese at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He ran the 200 meters there after claiming the 200 meter SEC title and getting All-America honors in the 100 and 200 a year ago.
In only his sophomore year, Kendricks has burst onto the international scene with the world's best pole vault mark this year of 19-0.75. The Oxford native also earned All-America accolades last year and looks to keep raising the bar to new heights.
The Ole Miss men are ranked No. 11 in this week's USTFCCCA poll and look to post some of their top marks of the season on their home surface.
In addition to Kendricks, Rebel men who rank highly in the nation this season include Young in the 100 (10th, 10.28), Young in the 200 (14th, 20.81), Benjamin Lapane in the javelin (39th, 216-5), Onyi Afoaku in the discus (42nd, 179-3) and Morris Kersh in the triple jump (58th, 49-3).
On the women's side, it's been distance runner Haley Cutright and jumpers Marci Morman and Allegra Wells leading the way for the Rebels.
Cutright ranks second in the SEC and 19th nationally in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a school-record time of 10:21.60.
Morman had a season-best triple jump of 41-8.5 at the Pepsi Florida Relays last weekend, which moved her up to fifth in the SEC and 17th in the NCAA this year. Wells ranks third in the SEC and 21st in the country with a long jump of 20-2.5.
Other Rebel women who rank among the NCAA's best this year include Fabia McDonald in the heptathlon (22nd, 5,117), the 4x100 meter relay squad of Shari Russell, Jasmine Williams, Destiny Lundy and Asia Cooper (28th, 45.27), Russell in the long jump (29th, 19-11.75), Taryn Hartfield in the 100-meter hurdles (32nd, 13.53), Sofia Hellberg-Jonsen in the 400-meter hurdles (35th, 59.76), Cooper in the 100 meters (47th, 11.62) and Deonna Walton in the long jump (48th, 19-9.5).
The Rebels will be right back at the Ole Miss Track & Field Complex next Saturday, April 20, for the Mississippi Open.