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Track and Field travels to Kentucky for SEC Indoor Championships

Photo Courtesy: Wesley Hitt/Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations

 

The Ole Miss track and field team will be heading to Lexington, Ky., for the SEC Championships Friday through Sunday. The Rebels are coming off a great showing at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., in which senior Logan Waites broke her own school record in the 5,000 meters, and the women’s distance medley relay team of Anne Threlkeld, Sofia Hellberg-Jonsen, Tia Leake and Kayleigh Skinner also set a school record. The men’s team enters this weekend ranked No. 22 in the nation, while the women’s team sits at No. 95 in this week’s USTFCCCA poll. 

“We’ve had a really good indoor season so far,” head coach Joe Walker said. “We’ve had a lot of people record personal records, so that’s been good. This is a big, 12-team, shootout-type thing, so you don’t know what to expect until you get there.”

On the men’s side, six SEC foes are ranked in the top 25, including three of the top four teams in the country. The Rebels placed 10th at last year’s SEC Indoor Championships and look to improve on that showing.

“We’ve got a lot of great athletes who are working hard,” Walker said. “So I’m really excited and optimistic about how we’ll do. It’s a tough meet, but I think we’re ready, and I think we’re fit. It’ll be a battle — that’s for sure.”

The Rebels will be competing in many different events on both the men’s and women’s sides, but look for junior All-American jumper Ricky Robertson, the No. 4 high jumper in the nation, and fellow juniors Morris Kersh and Isiah Young to lead the way for the Rebels this weekend. The team knows what it’s up against but is also confident that they have what it takes to stand toe to toe with the rest of the conference.

“We’re more than capable of coming out on top,” Kersh said. “It’s just a matter of bringing your A-game on that day. We’re feeling good about it this year. Usually going into conference championships, we have injuries or something going on, but this year everyone is coming on strong.”

All in the family for Kersh

Trying to live up to a name is hard enough, but for junior jumper Morris Kersh, he has been up to the task. His father George Kersh is currently the record holder for Ole Miss in the 800 meters. However, Kersh didn’t see himself following in his father’s footsteps. 

“In a way I see myself following, but not exactly,” Kersh said. “My main focus wasn’t always track; it just happened to turn out this way.”

Kersh joined the Ole Miss track and field team after a standout career at Pearl High School. He was named the 2007-08 Gatorade Athlete of the Year for Mississippi high school boys’ track and field and also won a state championship in 2008.

After being around track his whole life, and also being the son of two track runners, the sport came naturally to Kersh. However, he has been able to keep a level head throughout his career and realizes his success has come through hard work.

“I work hard at what I do,” Kersh said. “I put in the time, so pretty much that has given me my success.”

Young sprinting his way to the top

Senior Isiah Young stumbled across the sport of track in high school, not knowing that he had the potential to one day be a Division I sprinter.

“I found (track) over the summer my last year of running in high school,” Young said. “Then one of my coaches picked me up, and I was OK at it at first, but now I’m starting to get the hang of it.”

Prior to Ole Miss, Young spent two years at Allen Community College in his hometown of Junction City, Kan. Last season, he was only able to compete in one meet for the Rebels. A year later, he has jumped onto the track scene and gives all the credit to his coach.

“I think Coach Walker has been great in believing in me, and every day I come, practice hard, and hard work pays off.”

His hard work paid off at the Tyson Invitational earlier this month. He won the 60-meter finals with a time of 6.66 after he tied his personal best of 6.62 during the preliminaries. He also placed seventh in the 200 meters with a personal-best time of 21.25, which also ranks fifth in school history in the event.

Even though his career hasn’t been the longest as a Rebel, Young has his sight set on this weekend’s SEC Championships and beyond.

“I want to win SECs,” he said. “Then, try to win national indoors if I can. I would like to win and at least leave a mark before my indoor season is up.”