OXFORD, Miss. - "Championship season," as Ole Miss head coach Brian O'Neal calls it, is just around the corner. And several Rebels are ranked among the nation's best track & field athletes heading into the stretch run.
The 15th-ranked Ole Miss men and the Rebel women will compete at the talent-rich Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships May 9-12 in Columbia, Mo.
Want an idea of the elite level of competition the Rebels will face at the SEC meet?
Nationally ranked men's teams from the SEC include No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 4 Arkansas, No. 6 Georgia, No. 12 LSU, No. 15 Ole Miss, No. 17 Alabama. That's four of the top six and seven in the top 25.
The women are not much different, with ranked league teams including No. 1 Texas A&M, No. 3 Florida, No. 4 LSU, No. 6 Arkansas, No. 8 Georgia and No. 25 South Carolina.
Leading the way for Ole Miss are a pair of the world's best in sophomore pole vaulter Sam Kendricks and senior sprinter Isiah Young.
Kendricks has been the world leader in the pole vault since he established a school-record mark of 19-0.75 to win the event at the Texas Relays on March 29. He has consistently cleared 18 feet at almost every meet this season. The Oxford, Miss., native was the only collegian in a nine-man field of professionals at the recent Drake Relays and tied for the third-best clearance of 18-0.5.
Young has been scorching the track in recent weeks and currently ranks fourth in the world in the 200 meters and seventh in the 100. The 2012 Olympian who hails from Junction City, Kan., recently defended his 100-meter title and was voted Most Outstanding Performer at the Drake Relays. He broke his own school record with his winning time of 10.07 and is now No. 2 in the NCAA this year in the 100 and No. 3 in the 200. He also anchors the Rebels' 4x100 meter relay squad, whose time of 39.69 is second-best in school history and top 15 in the NCAA this year.
Following the SEC Championships will be the NCAA East Preliminary Round (May 24-25 in Greensboro, N.C.) and the NCAA Outdoor Championships (June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore.).
The top 48-ranked male and female athletes (and top 24 male and female relays) in the East region in each event will qualify for the East Preliminary. As of today, the Rebels would send nine male individuals, nine female individuals and three total relays to Greensboro. Also, junior Mary Ashton Nall is among the top-24 ranked women's heptathletes that would earn an automatic spot into the NCAA Championships.
Below is a list of Ole Miss athletes ranked highly in the NCAA and SEC:
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