Rebels In The Air Kendricks And Tisher Reach Record Heights
Sam Kendricks (photo by Joshua McCoy)
May 10, 2012
By Mike Swartz
Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations student assistant
In the sport of track and field, pole vaulting is a different animal.
The athlete runs with a pole over twice his or her height and vaults over a 15-foot-long bar situated about two stories high in the air. The loss of total aerial control and a relatively large margin for accidents has given the sport of pole vaulting a daredevil attitude for high-flying adrenaline junkies, or just peak-performing athletes.
Currently competing at Ole Miss are the men's school record holder, freshman Sam Kendricks, and the women's school record holder, junior Neal Tisher.
Kendricks set the indoor school record (17-4.25) and the outdoor record (17-11) in less than a year of collegiate competition. The hometown Oxford native broke Baker Vinci's record marks that had held since 1985. He currently ranks third in the SEC and eighth in the NCAA.
Tisher broke the indoor school record with a mark of 13-11 this year, while she set the outdoor record as a sophomore (13-9.75). She currently ranks top five in the SEC and top 30 nationally.
Tisher, who began pole vaulting in seventh grade, says the transition from gymnastics to pole vaulting made it much easier to learn. However, she says that it is difficult to stay comfortable in the sport.
"There's a lot of changing going on in pole vaulting" says Tisher, "For example, I tried a longer pole about a week ago and was thrown back on the ground."
Freshman Sam Kendricks also began pole vaulting in middle school after growing up around the track. His father, Scott Kendricks, is the head track coach at Oxford High School. The younger Kendricks began mastering the pole vault at a young age, while competing in anything else to make him jump higher.
"I ran the hurdles and the 4x400 meter relay," Kendricks said, "basically anything to make me better at pole vaulting."
Ole Miss Associate Head Coach Doug Blackwell, who mentors the Rebel pole vaulters, says pole vaulting takes a bit of a "daredevil" attitude.
"The best way to explain it is to compare it to diving," says Blackwell. "People say you have to have fortitude to dive and land properly. Vaulting is very similar in that you need faith that the pole won't break and that you'll land safely in the pit."
Off the track, Tisher keeps active off the coast of her hometown, Mobile, Ala.
"I love to wakeboard and white water kayak," said Tisher. "But I'll wakeboard all summer long."
Kendricks keeps busy off of the track with Army ROTC here at Ole Miss. "It keeps me pretty busy between track and classes," he says.
With both Tisher and Kendricks becoming prominent in the pole vault, both could imagine continuing the sport after their senior seasons.
"I would love to continue competitively in the pole vault," Tisher says. "But if not, I will at least keep jumping on my own after college."
Kendricks, on the other hand, has a different situation. "I have a contract with the Army, so I could be put into active duty, but if I could pole vault professionally, that would be a dream."
He looks to further his progress already made as a freshman.
"I came in with a goal to eventually break the school record," Kendricks said. "Now I'm looking to break the 18-feet mark."
The high-flying duo is determined to both literally and figuratively raise the bar as they push on to the end of the track season.
"It's nice to finally be recognized as a pole vaulting school," Tisher said.
"It's always a great feeling to have two outstanding athletes improving from year to year," said Blackwell.
Keep up with Tisher, Kendricks and the rest of the Ole Miss track team as they compete in the SEC Championships Thursday-Sunday in Baton Rouge, La.
It was exciting news this week as Rebel favorite Tom Luke returned to the Ole Miss football program as Assistant A.D. for Player Development. A second-generation Rebel and the brother of fellow Ole Miss standout and staffer Matt Luke, Tom... read more
A little more than a year into his first term as Ole Miss Athletics Director, Ross Bjork made his first trip to Starkville this week but did so for a good cause. Bjork and Bulldog AD Scott Stricklin joined forces... read more
Despite losing the All-American twin duo of Marcel and Chris Thiemann and playing in the toughest conference in America, Ole Miss finished the 2013 regular season with a ranking of No. 7 in the nation.The regular season was highlighted by... read more
Injuries have riddled the Ole Miss football team this spring, and after evaluating the situation this week, the coaching staff determined a full scale scrimmage would not be an option for this year's BancorpSouth Grove Bowl. As a result, the... read more
Former Ole Miss All-Americans and collegiate top-10 doubles duo Kristi Boxx and Abby Guthrie have reunited to compete in the $25,000 USTA St. Dominic Pro Circuit women's event in Jackson. The event, which began Sunday, will run through April 7... read more
Panama Trip Photo GalleryTwo weeks ago, I wrote about a group of six Ole Miss football players who went on a mission trip to Panama over spring break. They have since returned to Oxford and been knee-deep in schoolwork and... read more
Ole Miss' run to the SEC Tournament title and the Big Dance received national coverage for the team and university during the March Madness. Below is just a sampling of mountain of press the Rebels have gotten including a tweet from King... read more
Michaela Quinn, a member of the 2013 Ole Miss track & field signing class, turned in a great performance at the World Junior Cross Country Championships over the weekend.Competing as a member of Team Australia, Quinn placed 25th in the... read more
Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Colton Walls, a sophomore linebacker who started his career at Clemson, is among the non-scholarship players to join the Ole Miss football team this spring. Rebel fans will be quite... read more
A long list of ex-Rebels are planning to work out for the NFL scouts at Ole Miss Pro Day on Thursday. Of the 21 former players putting their talents on display, 16 concluded their Rebel careers in the fall, while... read more
It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating a bowl win in Birmingham. Now that that and an historic signing day are in the rear view mirror, it's time to gear up for spring drills. The Rebels take to the... read more
Ryan Smith, a sophomore distance runner on the Ole Miss track & field team, will be a sports trivia contestant on an upcoming segment of ESPNU's late-night entertainment show, UNITE.The episode of UNITE airs late Wednesday night at 1 a.m.... read more
The much anticipated list of walk out songs is here. Click on the song to hear it. Viewer discretion advised. Songs played in venue will be edited. My personal favorite has to be Mistone's with the Latin flavor. #1 Preston... read more
Olympic gold medalist and former Ole Miss star Brittney Reese will be among the headliner athletes at this weekend's Millrose Games indoor meet in New York City.Reese, who won gold in the long jump at the 2012 London Olympics, is... read more