Rebels In The Air

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Sam Kendricks (photo by Joshua McCoy)
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Sam Kendricks (photo by Joshua McCoy)
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

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.

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    Blog
    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Aug. 25-31)

      Monday, September 1, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewAug. 25-31, 2014Football- No. 18 Ole Miss opened the 2014 season with a 35-13 win over Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Atlanta's Georgia Dome.- The Rebels led 7-6 entering the fourth quarter... read more

    • ESPN's Chucky Mullins Documentary to Debut Thursday

      Monday, September 1, 2014 - Football

      The SEC Storied documentary "It's Time," centered on the the inspirational friendship between former Vanderbilt football player Brad Gaines and former Ole Miss football player Chucky Mullins, will premiere on Tuesday on the Vanderbilt campus and will debut on... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House - Aug. 31

      Sunday, August 31, 2014 - Athletics

      This is a new concept we've created for the Ole Miss Sports Blog that we're calling Observations from the Best Seat in the House. The idea of this weekly feature will be to bring you all some of our observations... read more

    • What They're Saying: Ole Miss-Boise State

      Friday, August 29, 2014 - Football

      The No. 18 Ole Miss football team won the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game defeating Boise State 35-13. The Rebels move into Southeastern Conference next week with a road test at Vanderbilt from Nashville's LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans. The... read more

    • 'The New Normal' on Defense

      Friday, August 29, 2014 - Football

      ATLANTA -- Boise State had been the highest scoring team in the nation, averaging 40.2 points per game dating back to the 2000 season.  Highlighted by four interceptions, eight tackles for loss and big hits by several different players, the... read more

    • Second-Half Surge for Rebel Offense

      Friday, August 29, 2014 - Football

      ATLANTA -- After an up-and-down first half, which included a touchdown and three interceptions, senior quarterback Bo Wallace and the Ole Miss offense found their stride in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter. Leading 7-6 early in the... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss-Boise State Motivational

      Thursday, August 28, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss vs Boise State Official Team Motivational '14 from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Three and Out: Keys to Ole Miss-Boise State

      Thursday, August 28, 2014 - Football

      Three areas to watch as Ole Miss opens its 2014 season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against Boise State from Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Contrast in Experience Boise State has one of the youngest teams in the country with 67 freshmen... read more

    • Volleyball Opens Steven McRoberts Era

      Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - Volleyball

      Here are three pieces to keep in mind as we look ahead to the Ole Miss volleyball team's season-opening weekend in Buffalo, New York, starting with Canisius on Friday morning, the first of four matches over three days at the... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 1

      Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - Football

      The Season: Ole Miss Football - Episode 1 (2014) from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Dome, Sweet Dome for Atlanta Area Rebels

      Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - Football

      For high school football players in Georgia, all roads lead to the Georgia Dome and the state championships.  For a handful of Rebels, those roads lead home, as Ole Miss opens the 2014 season against Boise State in the Chick-fil-A... read more

    • VIDEO: Forward Together Construction Update

      Monday, August 25, 2014 - Athletics

      read more

    • Relentless is the Word on Defense

      Sunday, August 24, 2014 - Football

      ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy asked each of the 65 coaches from the Power Five conferences to describe their team in one word.  Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze's word? Relentless. The same can be said of the Ole Miss defense.  And... read more

    • McCormick, Defense Shine in Win

      Sunday, August 24, 2014 - Soccer

      After playing 110 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Georgia on Friday night, Ole Miss responded with a gutsy 1-0 win over Iowa State on Sunday afternoon. The defense, led by senior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick was the story of the... read more

    • Rebels Battle to Draw on Historic Night

      Friday, August 22, 2014 -

      Big time crowd for @SECNetwork live sports event debut. Record attendance of 1,823 for @OleMissSoccer Let's finish strong.-- Ross Bjork (@RossBjorkAD) August 23, 2014 Ole Miss kicked off the 2014 season in thrilling fashion, rallying to a 1-1 draw with... read more