OXFORD, Miss. - Ole Miss travels to the Drake Relays this week for the 104th edition of the prestigious track meet in Des Moines, Iowa.
The 16th-ranked Rebel men and the Rebel women will be competing Wednesday-Saturday in their final tune-up before the SEC Outdoor Championships (May 9-12 in Columbia, Mo.).
Competition for the Rebels gets underway at noon Wednesday with Fabia McDonald and Mary Ashton Nall in the women's heptathlon (Wednesday-Thursday). A few distance races will run on Thursday afternoon and evening, while the majority of events take place all day Friday and Saturday.
"The Drake Relays is one of the oldest relays there is in the NCAA," Rebel head coach Brian O'Neal said. "Our mindset is preparing ourselves for the national championships. The weather this weekend in Des Moines is going to be very similar to what it's going to be like in Eugene (Oregon), so it gives us a little bit of a trial run in preparing ourselves mentally and physically for what's ahead."
The men are led by Isiah Young and Sam Kendricks, who are the current SEC Runner and Field Athlete of the Week, respectively.
A senior from Junction City, Kan., Young was dominant in his final home track meet as a Rebel, clocking two of the world's fastest wind-legal times this year at the Mississippi Open. The London Olympian ran four races and claimed four victories. He blew away the competition in the 100 (10.09) and 200 (20.39), while anchoring the 4x100 relay squad to victory (39.90) and running the first leg of the winning 4x400 relay (3:10.57).
Young's 20.39 in the 200 ranks him third in the world and second in the NCAA this year, while his 10.09 in the 100 is tied for fifth-best in the world this year and is third among collegians. He finished just .01 second from his school record of 10.08 when he won the Drake Relays last year. The 4x100 relay team clocked a season-best 39.90, which is tied for fourth-best in school history and ranks Ole Miss 14th in the NCAA this year.
Kendricks continued his impressive pole vaulting with another record on his home turf. For the second week in a row, he set an Ole Miss facility record, this time clearing 18-1.25 to claim victory. The Oxford, Miss., native won his ninth straight regular-season pole vault competition and the 15th of his Rebel career, combining indoor and outdoor. He is currently the world leader with a mark of 19-0.75 at the Texas Relays.
The top 48-ranked athletes (and top 24 relays) in the east region in each event will qualify for the NCAA East Preliminary Round (May 24-25 in Greensboro, N.C.).
Rebel men who would qualify as of today include Kendricks in the pole vault (1st, 19-0.75), Young in the 200m (2nd, 20.39), Young in the 100m (3rd, 10.09), 4x100m relay (8th, 39.90), Morris Kersh in the triple jump (10th, 51-1.5), 4x400m relay (15th, 3:09.27), Benjamin Lapane in the javelin (23rd, 218-0), Onyi Afoaku in the discus (24th, 179-3), Afoaku in the shot put (34th, 56-10.75), Robert Semien in the 110m hurdles (34th, 14.10), Malcolm Davis in the long jump (38th, 23-11.5), Anthony Branch in the 200m (41st, 21.09) and Hunter Harrison in the discus (46th, 170-0).
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