April 18, 2013
VIDEO: Coach O'Neal previews the Mississippi Open
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OXFORD, Miss. - After some big performances at the Ole Miss Track & Field Complex last weekend, the Rebels will host their second straight home meet with this Saturday's Mississippi Open.
The Mississippi Open will feature a handful of teams, including the No. 11 nationally ranked Ole Miss men and No. 14 Mississippi State men. The women's squads from both in-state SEC teams will also compete, as well as teams from Missouri State, Murray State and others.
Competition gets underway with throwing events at 9 a.m. Running events will begin at 10:30 a.m., and the meet will continue through about 3:30 p.m.
Admission is free.
"We're glad to be at home once again this week," Rebel head coach Brian O'Neal said. "We had a few really good performances last week and some that were not as good. This is a new week with renewed focus. We're looking to be better than we were last time out and compete with passion and pride."
Sophomore Sam Kendricks and senior Isiah Young are leading the way for the Rebel men with some world-class marks.
Kendricks currently owns the top pole vault clearance in the world with a school-record 19-0.75 at the Texas Relays in March. The Oxford native has won eight straight regular-season pole vault competitions, including last week when he set a facility record of 18-1.
Young, who hails from Junction City, Kan., is ranked No. 2 in the world this year in the 200 meters with an American-best 20.50 that he ran in Oxford last week. The London Olympian also won the 100 last week with a season-best time of 10.14 that ranks him tied for third in the world.
The following Rebel men rank among the NCAA's best this year: Kendricks in the pole vault (1st, 19-0.75), Young in the 200m (2nd, 20.50), Young in the 100m (3rd, 10.14), the 4x400m relay squad (26th, 3:09.27), Benjamin Lapane in the javelin (42nd, 216-5), Onyi Afoaku in the discus (46th, 179-3) and Morris Kersh in the triple jump (47th, 50-0.75).
On the women's side, the Rebels' distance runners have been on a tear this outdoor season. Between junior Kayleigh Skinner and sophomore Haley Cutright, they have already smashed three school records.
Skinner was the star last week with a school-record 16:39.63 to win the 5,000 meters, while Cutright wasn't far behind her in 16:44.70. Skinner broke a 16-year-old record in the 10,000 earlier this year with a 35:44.06, while Cutright beat her own teammate Katie Breathitt's record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a 10:21.60.
Fellow distance runners Anne Threlkeld, Kelsey Breathitt and Amy McCrory have also produced some of the best times in school history.
"Coach (Erin) Dawson is doing an absolutely fabulous job with those young ladies," O'Neal said. "In all of athletics, and particularly within our track and field program, you have to have three key ingredients for success: believe in yourself, believe in your coach and believe in your training. Each one of those ladies is possessing that right now, and the byproduct is what you're seeing on the track. They're having a phenomenal year so far. But I think each one of them would tell you we're not where we want to be yet."
Last weekend also saw juniors Fabia McDonald and Mary Ashton Nall move into the top 25 nationally in the heptathlon.
The following Ole Miss women rank among the NCAA's best this year: McDonald in the heptathlon (18th, 5,241), Marci Morman in the triple jump (20th, 41-8.5), Cutright in the 3000m steeplechase (21st, 10:21.60), Nall in the heptathlon (22nd, 5,205), Allegra Wells in the long jump (28th, 20-2.5), the 4x100m relay team (32nd, 45.27), Taryn Hartfield in the 100m hurdles (36th, 13.53), Shari Russell in the long jump (39th, 19-11.75) and Sofia Hellberg-Jonsen in the 400m hurdles (43rd, 59.76).