BIRMINGHAM, England (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) - Four Rebels participated in the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships this past weekend, with Ole Miss greats Sam Kendricks (pole vault) and Brittney Reese (long jump) coming away with medals for Team USA.
Kendricks, an Oxford native and the defending Outdoor World champion in the pole vault, took his second-career indoor silver after a tight duel with world record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France. Kendricks, who entered as the world leader this indoor season at a career-best 5.93m (19-05.50), was one of three over 5.80m (19-00.25) alongside Lavillenie and Poland’s Piotr Lisek. Lavillenie was the only one to clear and did so on his first attempt at that height for the win, with Kendricks taking silver based on total misses against Lesek.
The medal is the fifth in his career with golds at the 2017 IAAF World Outdoor Championships and the 2013 World University Games, silvers at the 2016 and now 2018 World Indoor Championships and a bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Kendricks was a two-time NCAA Outdoor champion in the pole vault as a Rebel in 2013 and 2014.
Defending World Indoor champion Brittney Reese earned her 10th career world medal in the long jump, taking silver today after being bested in the fourth round by a world-leading jump of 6.96m (22-10.00) from the gold medal winner, Ivana Spanovic of Serbia. Reese claimed second at a season-best 6.89m (22-07.25), which ends the season ranked No. 3 in the world.
Reese – a Gulfport, Mississippi, native and two-time NCAA long jump champion in 2008 – has cemented herself as one of, if not the best, long jumpers in world history with her 10th medal today. Her silver from this morning now joins two from the Olympic Games (gold in 2012, silver in 2016), four golds at the World Outdoor Championships (2009, 2011, 2013, 2017) and three golds from the World Indoor Championships (2010, 2012, 2016).
Craig Engels, recent Rebel graduate and part of the Ole Miss national champion distance medley relay team from 2017, advanced to his first career world final, taking seventh place in the 1500-meter run. After using an impressive kick over his last 200-meters to snare an auto-qualifier spot in the prelims at 3:47.55 yesterday, Engels ran 3:58.92 in the final today in what turned out to be a very slow and tactical race, not far off winner Samuel Tefera of Ethiopia at 3:58.19, which was the slowest winning time in meet history.
On Friday, Ole Miss volunteer throws coach Jeneva Stevens advanced to her second career World Indoor final in the shot put. Stevens took eighth place at 18.18m (59-07.75).
Stevens was a two-time NCAA Champion under Rebel head coach Connie Price-Smith and throws coach John Smith at Southern Illinois, and she owns two medals in world competition: a 2013 gold medal in the hammer throw at the World University Games (the first-ever gold medal by an American in the event in world competition) and a 2015 silver medal in the shot put at the NACAC Championships.
The current Ole Miss track & field teams will head back to Texas A&M later this week for the NCAA Indoor Championships. Qualified are Lindsey Murray (pole vault), Janeah Stewart (shot put, weight throw), Sean Tobin (mile) and the men’s distance medley relay team.