Kendricks' vault title helps Ole Miss to tie with Texas for Day 1 lead at NCAAs
EUGENE, Ore. -- Ole Miss sophomore Sam Kendricks captured a national title in the men's pole vault at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships Wednesday to help the Rebels to a Day 1 tie atop the leaderboard with Texas.
With his winning clearance of 18-8.25, Kendricks became the first person in program history to win an NCAA title in the pole vault. His title is the 13th individual national championship in program history, while he became the eighth Rebel to win at least one NCAA title.
“We had an outstanding day,” Rebel head coach Brian O’Neal said. “But it’s just Day 1 and there’s so much more we’re still fighting for. Sam [Kendricks] came in here and had an outstanding performance to get 10 big points for our team. He’s been one of our stars all year long and I’m just really proud of him.”
Kendricks kept clearing bars with ease at Hayward Field, many of them on the first try, until it was down to him and last year’s outdoor champion Jack Whitt of Oral Roberts. After they both cleared 18-4.5, Kendricks passed on the next height of 18-6.5, while Whitt went over on his first attempt. Kendricks then cleared his first try at 18-8.25, while Whitt missed once and then passed to 18-10.25. Both missed their attempts at that final height, giving Kendricks the victory.
“It was a great competition,” O’Neal said. “Sam battled through some adversity and there was a little bit of gamesmanship, but at the end of it all, when the bar was on the line, Sam was money. I’m really proud of him and proud of the job that Coach Kendricks has done with him. When you believe in yourself and your coach and your training, special things happen, and Sam’s performance was a byproduct of that.”
Before this meet, Kendricks previously placed third at this year’s indoor championships and was 10th at last year’s outdoors as a freshman.
Isiah Young, who entered the meet as one of the favorites in both the 100 and 200 meters, won his semifinal 100 heat with a time of 10.00 to advance to Friday’s final.
“Isiah [Young] did what was expected in qualifying for the 100,” O’Neal said. “Last year he was the fastest non-qualifier ever in at the NCAA championships, so to come back this year and give himself a chance to score some points for the team is huge.”
Young, who came into the NCAAs with a collegiate-leading time of 9.99, a school record, was third-fastest in the semifinals behind TCU’s Charles Silmon (9.92) and Florida State’s Dentarius Locke (9.97).
Young is the second Ole Miss athlete in program history to make the 100 final. Mike Granger placed seventh in the 100 final in 2011.