Isiah Young (photo by Joshua McCoy)
April 12, 2012
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OXFORD, Miss. - The Ole Miss Track and Field Complex will be the site of this weekend’s Mississippi Open, the Rebels’ final home meet of the 2012 outdoor season that will feature a number of world-class athletes among the current and former Rebels who are scheduled to compete.
It will be the final home meet for Ole Miss head coach Joe Walker, who is leaving at the end of the season after 30 years at the helm of the Rebel program. The seniors on this year’s squad will also be honored on Saturday.
“We are expecting another great meet,” Walker said. “The total level of competition won't be as strong as we faced at Florida but we always compete well with family and friends watching. I suppose it will be emotional for me, but I am so focused on this meet and the rest of our season that I won't let it hit me until July, I imagine. I'm a one day at a time kind of guy.”
Admission is free to the meet, with events scheduled to run Saturday beginning with the men’s hammer throw and women’s javelin at 9:00 a.m., and concluding with the men’s 4x400 meter relay at 7:00 p.m. The women’s heptathlon competition will have four events on Saturday and the final three on Sunday morning.
Among the 14 NCAA Division I men’s teams competing will be No. 24 Wisconsin, regional foes Arkansas State, Memphis and Southern Miss, as well as fellow SEC member Vanderbilt.
Among the 13 NCAA Division I women’s teams competing will be regional foes Arkansas State, Memphis and Southern Miss, as well as fellow SEC member Vanderbilt.
The Rebel men enter Saturday’s meet ranked No. 12 in this week’s USTFCCCA poll behind Ricky Robertson’s world-leading and school-record high jump, along with Isiah Young’s school-record 200 meter dash. The No. 12 ranking is the highest national ranking for the Rebel men since they finished No. 11 at the end of the 2011 indoor season.
On Tuesday, Robertson was named the SEC Men’s Field Athlete of the Week and is coming off his best performance of the season last weekend at the Florida Relays when he jumped a world-leading and school-record 7-7.25. The Hernando, Miss., native currently leads the nation in the high jump and ranks fifth in the triple jump (53-1.75), while teammates Kentrell Sanders (52-2.5) and Morris Kersh (51-0) also rank in the nation’s top 20 in the triple jump.
Last year at the Mississippi Open, the junior All-American, Robertson, captured both the high jump and long jump titles. Saturday he will only be competing in the triple jump and long jump.
For the second straight week, Young broke the Ole Miss 200 meter dash record clocking a time of 20.35 at the Florida Relays. The former Allen Community College standout currently ranks second nationally in the 200 meters (20.35) and sixth in the 100 meters (10.16). He currently ranks fifth in the world in both events. (The NCAA list includes times with wind readings up to +4.0, while the international rankings only include wind readings up to +2.0.)
Oxford native Sam Kendricks is the reigning SEC Men’s Freshman of the Week after he captured the pole vault title at the Florida Relays with a personal-best 17-8.5 that ranks him second in school history, eight in the NCAA this year and 14th in the world this season. He has now won the pole vault competition at four of his last five meets.
Other Rebel men who will be expected to contribute Saturday and rank among the nation’s best in their events include All-American Mike Granger in the 100 meters (8th, 10.19 – also 8th in the world) and Carson Blanks in the 400-meter hurdles (10th, 50.79). The 4x100 meter relay squad consisting of Granger, Young, Creighton Serrette and Bradley Shields ranks 16th among NCAA schools (39.90), while the 4x400 relay team of Dante Oliver, Montez Griffin, Blanks and Brian Word is 19th (3:08.18).
On the women’s side, several Rebels rank highly in the NCAA this week.
Senior Kristin Bridges ranks 13th in the 400 meters (53.20), while junior Neal Tisher ranks 18th in the pole vault (13-7).
The 4x400 meter relay squad of Lauren Hollingsworth, Sofia Hellberg-Jonsen, Monica Williams and Bridges ranks 15th among NCAA schools (3:36.69).
Jasmine Williams currently ranks in the top 50 in two events. She ranks 40th in the 100 meters (11.61) and 48th in the 200 (23.85).
After jumping a season-best 19-10.25 last weekend in Gainesville, Deonna Walton ranks 43rd nationally in the long jump.
Marci Morman ranks in the top 50 nationally in the triple jump (44th, 40-10.25).
Former Rebel All-American and NCAA champion Brittney Reese will be back competing on her home track this weekend as she begins preparation for a march to the 2012 London Olympics. Reese, who trains in Oxford, is the four-time defending women’s world long jump champion and the favorite to take gold in London this summer. Last month, she broke Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s American record in the indoor long jump.
Also competing on Saturday are former Ole Miss men’s All-Americans Jonathan Juin, Shantel Glass and Chris Lawson.
During last year’s Mississippi Open, the Rebels posted 10 victories and set one school record in what was one of Ole Miss’ most impressive performances of the season.