OXFORD, Miss. - Columbia, Mo., is the site of one of the world's elite track & field meets this year as the 14 teams that make up the talent-rich Southeastern Conference descend upon the University of Missouri campus for the SEC Outdoor Championships this Thursday-Sunday.
Ole Miss, whose men's team is ranked 16th in the country, is one of several league schools that sport a nationally ranked squad. Other ranked men's teams include defending NCAA Champion Florida at No. 1, No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 5 Arkansas, No. 7 Georgia, No. 12 LSU and No. 20 Alabama. Ranked women's teams include No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 3 Florida, No. 4 LSU, No. 6 Arkansas and No. 10 Georgia.
"For us this is the most exciting time of the year," said first-year Ole Miss head coach Brian O'Neal. "It's an accumulation of everything we've learned about ourselves this year and a chance to go in and compete in the toughest league there is in the United States.
"The old SEC was always pressure-packed. Now you bring in two tradition-rich teams in Texas A&M and Missouri and you've just added more fuel to the fire. Points will be at a premium this weekend, but we expect our kids to get in there and compete, and at the end of the day, put our best foot forward."
Leading the way for the Rebels are two of the world's best this year 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 10th in the world in the 100 meters and 11th in the 200. 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. 4 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.
The Ole Miss men placed sixth at last year's SEC outdoor meet in Baton Rouge, La., and Young won the 200 meters.
The Rebel women have broken three school records this year entering the SEC Championships. That includes two records by Kayleigh Skinner in the 5,000 meters (16:39.63) and 10,000 meters (34:59.20) and Haley Cutright in the 3,000 meter steeplechase (10:21.60).
The women placed seventh overall at last year's SEC outdoor meet, headlined by Rachel Jenkins' long jump title.
The Championships are being held at the Audrey J. Walton Stadium and begin at 11:30 a.m. CT Thursday, continuing at 11 a.m. CT Friday, 1 p.m. CT Saturday and 1 p.m. CT Sunday.
All-session tickets are available for $20 for adults and $10 for youth that provide admission to each day of the meet. Single-session tickets also can be purchased for each day of the meet for $10 for adults and $5 for youth. Fans can purchase their tickets for the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships today by logging on to http://www.mutigers.com/sectrack/tickets.html.
Live coverage of the meet will air on ESPN3.com on Saturday and Sunday. That coverage will air from 3:40-6:45 p.m. CT Saturday and from 2:50-6:45 p.m. CT Sunday. Sunday's trophy presentation will air live on ESPN3. Dwight Stones, Larry Rawson and Lewis Johnson will have the call.
The meet action on Thursday and Friday, and outside of the ESPN3 windows on Saturday and Sunday will air live at MUTigers.com.
Following the SEC Championships, athletes will be selected for the NCAA East Preliminary Round, which is the first round of the NCAA Championships. The NCAA will select the East region's top 48 athletes in each event (except decathlon, heptathlon and 10,000 meters) to participate at the regional. The performances at the regional will determine who makes the field for the NCAA Championships. The top 24 decathlon, heptathlon and 10,000 meter qualifiers from across the nation will be sent directly to the NCAA Championships.
If the NCAA East Preliminary was today, Ole Miss would qualify 11 men in 11 different events and 10 different women in seven different events.
The East Preliminary will take place May 24-25 in Greensboro, N.C. The NCAA Championships will be held June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore.
Ole Miss fell 17-10 in overtime to intrastate rival Mississippi State, but the Rebels' one score provided a special moment for two of the team's unsung players. Down 7-0 with 31 seconds left in the first half, Ole Miss called... read more
Ole Miss sent seniors Kellie Goss and Kara Morgan out with a win as the Rebels topped LSU 3-2 on Senior Night. "It was a great win," head coach Joe Getzin said. "We tweaked the lineup, and one of our... read more
One of the core values for the Ole Miss football program is mental toughness. With a rivalry game in a hostile environment, it will carry a greater importance. "You're going into a hostile environment, and that's the biggest thing," offensive... read more
The Egg Bowl returns to Thanksgiving night for the first time since 2003, which is also the last time Ole Miss won in Starkville. Thursday's game is the 110th meeting of one of the nation's most-played rivalries and the 86th... read more
Ole Miss had its four-game winning streak snapped with a 24-10 loss to No. 8 Missouri on Saturday night. The 24th-ranked Rebels now face a quick turnaround as they travel to face intrastate rival Mississippi State on Thursday night in... read more
Head coach Hugh Freeze meets with members of the media following Wednesday's practice.Ole Miss is the only school in the upper half of the SEC statistical rankings in every major offensive and defensive category. This week, the Rebels face one... read more
Photo Gallery Courtney Cunningham is a builder. While playing volleyball for Ole Miss from 2009-11, Cunningham helped build the Rebels into an NCAA Tournament team while also earning her civil engineering degree. From that degree, Cunningham is helping build... read more
There's a different air surrounding this week's primetime showdown with No. 8 Missouri, the Rebels' first top-10 test since a 27-24 win over then-No. 6 LSU back on Oct. 19. "It's a huge week for us," junior quarterback Bo Wallace... read more
Freshman wide receiver Laquon Treadwell caught a short pass from junior quarterback Bo Wallace, made six Troy defenders miss and dove into the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown. It was the start of a historic day for the Ole... read more
Ole Miss won its second ever NCAA Tournament game and set a school record for wins in a season with 16, as seven different Rebels scored in a 9-0 win over Jackson State Friday night. No. 22-ranked Ole Miss (16-5-2)... read more
Tony Dungy, who won a Super Bowl as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, visited campus Wednesday. He spent time with head coach Hugh Freeze, spoke to the team and signed the equipment room Wall of Fame. "He's one of... read more
Ole Miss is bowl eligible for the second straight year under head coach Hugh Freeze after a 34-24 win over Arkansas this past Saturday. The Rebels are also 6-3 for the first time since 2009, when the started 8-3 before... read more
After Ole Miss took a 20-10 lead into halftime, the momentum swung in favor of Arkansas after an interception, a touchdown-scoring drive and a defensive three-and-out to start the third quarter. Now leading 20-17, senior quarterback Barry Brunetti converted a... read more
Junior guard Jarvis Summers scored a career-high 28 points to lift Ole Miss past Troy, 69-54, in Saturday's season opener in the Tad Smith Coliseum. He shot 52.6 percent (10-of-19) from the field, including 5-for-10 from 3-point range. "He was... read more