OXFORD, Miss. - The historic Mt. SAC Relays is one of the nation's top track & field meets every year, and the 11th-ranked Ole Miss men's team will be among the impressive field of squads competing this Thursday-Saturday in Walnut, Calif.
The Rebels moved up to No. 11 in this week's USTFCCCA national rankings after an outstanding performance at the Alabama-Mississippi Border Clash last week in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Ole Miss' men claimed seven event titles and posted several marks that rank among the nation's best while helping Team Mississippi to a victory over Team Alabama.
"We're beginning to gel as a team and we're looking forward to this weekend's competition," said head coach Brian O'Neal, whose men's team has been ranked in all but one indoor and outdoor national poll during his two-year tenure. "For us, we just concentrate on the process of getting better week to week, and then at the end of the season we'll concern ourselves with where the rankings lie."
Competition at the 56th annual Mt. SAC Relays at Hilmer Lodge Stadium begins Thursday evening with the 3,000-meter steeplechase and 10,000 meter run. Events on Friday and Saturday will last all day long with top athletes from children's age all the way to Masters level, and even Paralympians. Collegians and pros will go toe to toe in some "elite" divisions, as well.
"Mt. SAC Relays is one of the premier relay events on the west coast," O'Neal said. "For us to continue to put our brand out there, we felt that it was a need for our men to travel out there this weekend and compete and see where we stand at this point in the season. It's a high-level meet similar to the Texas Relays. We'll get a chance to see how we stack up against some of the best teams in the country."
Among the other men's college teams in attendance will be No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Arkansas, No. 6 Wisconsin, No. 7 Alabama, No. 8 Texas Tech, No. 9 Georgia, No. 12 Nebraska, No. 14 USC, No. 15 UCLA, No. 17 Tennessee, No. 19 Arizona, No. 20 BYU, No. 23 Cal and No. 24 Illinois.
Veteran stars Sam Kendricks and Ricky Robertson have paced the Rebels so far during the first half of the outdoor season. Kendricks leads the nation in the pole vault (18-8.25) and even holds the top spot in this year's outdoor world rankings. Robertson leads the nation in the high jump (7-6) and is second in the world rankings.
In fact, Robertson has excelled in his first season on the track since 2012 indoors. He is currently the only athlete that ranks top 20 in the NCAA in the high jump, long jump (14th, 25-0.75) and triple jump (16th, 51-2.25). Only three other athletes even rank top 20 in two of those.
Other Ole Miss men that rank among the nation's top 50 are Jalen Miller in the 100 meters (15th, 10.24) and 200 (34th, 20.85), Mike Granger in the 100 (32nd, 10.34), Sean Tobin in the 800 (10th, 1:47.99), Robert Semien in the 110 hurdles (19th, 13.91), the 4x100 relay (22nd, 40.06), the 4x400 relay (33rd, 3:09.92), Phillip Young in the long jump (27th, 24-9.75) and triple jump (15th, 51-3.75), Malcolm Davis in the long jump (34th, 24-7.75) and Nathan Loe in the hammer throw (23rd, 210-3).
Members of the Ole Miss women's team will compete at the War Eagle Invitational in Auburn, Ala., on Friday and Saturday.
Junior Kierra White is coming off a breakout performance with a big PR of 20-6.25 that won the long jump competition at the Border Clash. She now ranks sixth in school history, 13th in the NCAA and fifth in the SEC this year.
Senior Mary Ashton Nall posted a season-best score of 5,278 at the Bulldog Heptathlon (Athens, Ga.) that ranks her 22nd in the nation and sixth in the SEC this year.
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