OXFORD, Miss. - The No. 21 Ole Miss men will send seven athletes to Eugene, Oregon, this Wednesday-Saturday for the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
The seven Rebels will compete in four different events in Eugene, which is known as "Track Town USA" for its obsession with the sport. The NCAA finals are being hosted by the University of Oregon at historic Hayward Field for the 12th time (since 1962).
The meet will be broadcast on ESPN3 and ESPNU. Late after¬¬noon and evening sessions on Friday and Saturday will air on ESPNU, while the evening sessions on Wednesday and Thursday will be on ESPN3.
"We're excited to be competing in the national championships," said second-year head coach Brian O'Neal. "This is what we've trained for all season, to have a chance to represent Ole Miss at the highest level and compete against the best of the best. Our young men are prepared to leave it all on the track for the next four days."
Defending NCAA outdoor pole vault champion Sam Kendricks headlines the Ole Miss contingent, which is the team's largest group of men to make the NCAA finals since 2011. The Oxford, Mississippi, native was the top qualifier at the NCAA East Preliminary and ranks first in the NCAA and fifth in the world this season with a best of 18-8.25/5.70m at the Texas Relays (March 26). He will try to become the first back-to-back outdoor pole vault champion since Oregon's Tommy Skipper in 2006-07 and the Rebels' first back-to-back NCAA outdoor champion since Savante' Stringfellow in the long jump in 2000 and 2001.
This is Kendricks' third appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and fifth overall NCAA finals berth. He was the indoor national runner-up earlier this year and claimed both the indoor and outdoor SEC titles in 2014.
Junior Phillip Young will compete in the triple jump in Eugene. He is the 11th seed in the field of 24 after jumping 52-0.75/15.87m at the East Preliminary. The Key West, Florida, native ranks seventh in the country this year with a season-best 52-10.25/16.11m at the LSU Invitational (May 3) and placed third at the SEC Outdoor Championships in Lexington, Kentucky.
Young is making his first NCAA appearance as a Rebel and fifth overall (four as a member of Florida State's team). His best NCAA finish in the triple jump was a sixth-place result at the 2012 indoor meet.
The 4x100-meter relay quartet of senior Mike Granger, freshman Jalen Miller, senior Creighton Serrette and freshman Kailo Moore are the Rebels' first 4x100 relay squad to make the NCAA finals since 2002. They shattered the school record with their time of 39.34 at the East Preliminary, which makes them the ninth seed in Eugene.
Granger is making his second career appearance at the NCAA outdoor meet, while Miller, Serrette and Moore all make it for the first time. Miller was a first team All-American earlier this year at the NCAA indoor meet, while Granger has also competed at three prior NCAA indoor meets.
Junior Robert Semien is making his NCAA finals debut, competing in the 110-meter hurdles. The Houston, Texas, native clocked a personal-best 13.80 at the East Preliminary to advance to Eugene. He is Ole Miss' first 110-meter hurdler to make the NCAA outdoor meet since the late John Yarbrough in 2007.
Ole Miss will try to build off last year's all-time best eighth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The Rebel men were 24th at this year's NCAA Indoor Championships and have finished top 25 in all three NCAA finals under O'Neal.
"The city of Eugene and the University of Oregon are great hosts for this event. They really love having the NCAA Championships there, and everyone you meet around town is a track fan. The facilities are first class, and the atmosphere is great for competition. It's a great experience for our young men to be there."
Below is a schedule of events with Ole Miss athletes and the start times for those events.
Wednesday - 4x100 Relay (semifinal), 2 pm CT (ESPN3) Wednesday - Sam Kendricks (pole vault final), 6 pm CT (ESPN3) Thursday - Robert Semien (110m hurdle semifinal), 3:05 pm CT (ESPN3) Saturday - Phillip Young (triple jump final), 10:30 am CT (ESPNU) Saturday - 4x100 Relay (final - if they advance), 1:03 pm CT (ESPNU) Saturday - Robert Semien (110m hurdle final - if he advances), 1:12 pm CT (ESPNU)
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