Senior Stars All About Team
Nov. 13, 2013
By Mary Ashton Nall Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations
When one became an All-American, the other clinched back-to-back SEC titles.
When one competed in the USA Outdoor Championships, the other became the high point scorer at the SEC Championships.
As if they didn't already do everything in pairs, when Mike Granger tore his ACL to sideline him for his senior season, Ricky Robertson also missed his outdoor season due to groin and sports hernia injuries.
After redshirting in 2012, the fifth-year senior track & field standouts are back for a final season with the Ole Miss Rebels in 2013 after a year of surgeries and rehabilitation.
"Mike jinxed me to redshirt," Robertson said.
"It's meant to be," said Granger. "We came in together and we'll leave together."
Despite their injuries, these roommates are no strangers to the big stage. In their three years of competing for the Rebels, they are already among the most decorated.
A Hickory, Miss., native, Granger is a four-time All-American, three times in the indoor 60-meter dash and once in the outdoor 100 meters. His career is highlighted by a second-place finish at the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships and a 2010 USA Junior Championships title in the 100. Granger has had four top-five finishes in the sprints at the SEC Championships. He has also appeared at the 2010 World Junior Championships (gold medal on the U.S. 4x100-meter relay team), 2011 USA Championships and the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Robertson, from Hernando, Miss., holds six Southeastern Conference titles in the men's high jump. He has also received All-America honors seven times, twice as the runner-up in the high jump at NCAAs. In 2012, he won the Cliff Harper Trophy for highest point scorer at the SEC indoor meet with top finishes in the high jump, long jump and triple jump events. Later that year, Robertson broke his own school record with a jump of 7-7.25 that ranks him among the top 10 high jumpers in NCAA history. The mark was the top jump in the world at the time.
Although neither athlete has yet to claim an individual NCAA title, the Mississippi natives agree that their goals for the upcoming season are team-oriented. They were not able to contribute to the men's school-record eighth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last year, which left them hungry for even more team accomplishments.
"It's important to compete together and win as a team," Granger said. "I want to win a national championship as a team more than I would ever want to have an individual title."
Second-year head coach Brian O'Neal says the talented duo has sacrificed a lot for the team, and he's glad they are back for another shot at representing Ole Miss.
"They are team-oriented guys," O'Neal said. "They do it for the team and for the love of the Red and Blue, and that's what makes them special."
As fifth-year seniors, Granger and Robertson are the oldest members of the men's track & field team. The Rebels signed a large recruiting class last February, and O'Neal says the senior leadership is crucial for the team this year.
"For the upcoming season, our team needs to continue its momentum from last year and it helps to have senior leadership from Mike and Ricky, along with their experience and commitment to excellence on the track," O'Neal explained.
Granger knows the importance of being a role model and the power he holds as a senior.
"As a sprinter, experience is everything. With me being the oldest sprinter on the team, I know the younger teammates are watching me," Granger said. "I need to go hard at practice every day and let them know how to prepare for the tough conference we are in."
Both Granger and Robertson plan to chase a professional track & field career after college, but they say they will forever be grateful for their experience at Ole Miss.
"Coach O'Neal always tells us to be gentlemen and women first, scholars second, and then athletes," Robertson said. "I can use that throughout my life, even when I'm finished competing."
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