Sam Kendricks wins fifth-straight USA Outdoor pole vault title

Kendricks is the first to win five straight outdoors since 1940-44.

Posted: Jun 23, 2018 8:44 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa (Ole Miss Athletics/WTVA) - Olympian and Rebel great Sam Kendricks continued to etch his legacy into the fabric of track & field in the United States after winning his fifth-straight USA Outdoor title on Saturday.

Kendricks, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in the pole vault, cruised to victory today, clearing his first seven bars without a miss. Kendricks and 2018 NCAA champion Chris Nilsen of South Dakota were the final two in competition, with Kendricks prevailing on a Drake Stadium record clearance of 5.85m (19-02.25). Nilsen opted to pass to the next height at 5.90m (19-04.25), but he missed his two attempts to secure the gold medal for Kendricks.

This marks the eighth total U.S. title Kendricks has claimed, including the last five outdoors and eight of the last nine overall across both the indoor and outdoor seasons (Kendricks lost his first career U.S. competition indoors this season). Kendricks is now the first American man to win five straight pole vault titles outdoors since Cornelius Warmerdam did from 1940-44.

Today’s win also marks the 17th U.S. outdoor title won by a Rebel and the 26th overall when combining the indoor and outdoor seasons. Of those 26, a total of 19 belong to Kendricks and Olympic long jumper Brittney Reese, who has won 11 (seven outdoors, four indoors) throughout her esteemed career.

Rebel NCAA champion Janeah Stewart joined a handful of her volunteer coaches in the ring for what turned out to be a historic U.S. women’s hammer final on Saturday. Just two weeks after exploding for a 15-foot PR to win the NCAA hammer title, Stewart took fourth overall in the national final at her fourth-round throw of 70.56m (231-06).

Volunteer coach and defending U.S. hammer champ Gwen Berry took silver at 72.99m (239-05), as the great back-and-forth of the American women’s hammer record continued. DeAnna Price – her former training partner at SIU (and former pupil of Ole Miss head coach Connie Price-Smith and throws coach John Smith) – took Berry’s U.S. record on her winning toss of 78.12m (256-03).

The American women’s hammer record has changed hands between Berry and Price three times now in the last three weeks. Berry entered the 2018 season as the record holder at 76.77m (251-10), set in Oxford last May. Price toppled that on June 2 at 77.65m (254-09), but not even a week later in Poland on June 8, Berry responded, beating defending Olympic gold medalist Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland with a new record of 77.78m (255-02).

Other Rebel volunteer coaches in the women’s hammer final included Jessica Ramsey in fifth at a new career-best 70.41m (231-00) – the sixth-best throw in the U.S. this year – and Jeneva Stevens in sixth at 68.85m (225-10).

The final event on the day included the last race by senior All-American Robert Domanic in an Ole Miss uniform in the men’s 1500-meter final, where he put together an impressive performance among some of the best middle-distance runners in the world. Domanic finished as the top collegian in fifth place in his first-career U.S. final, running 3:43.95. He used a strong kick on his final 200 meters, tracking down four people on his final lap of 53.76.

Defending Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz – the first American to win Olympic gold in the 1500 since 1908 – won at 3:43.37. Domanic went toe-to-toe with Centrowitz in the prelim round, falling just three hundredths of a second short of beating him in Heat One of the prelims on Thursday.

Former Rebel All-American 1500-meter runner Craig Engels also ran in the final, finishing 10th overall at 3:44.22.

One day of competition remains at the 2018 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, and it’s sure to be a busy one for former Rebel standouts on Sunday. Olympic high jumper Ricky Robertson starts the day in the men’s high jump at 1:45 p.m. CT. Defending U.S. women’s shot put champion and Olympian Raven Saunders hits the ring alongside Jeneva Stevens, Jessica Ramsey and Janeah Stewart at 2:10 p.m. CT. All-American discus thrower Brian Williams looks to improve on his fourth-place finish from last season at 2:20 p.m. CT. And the final event of the day for Ole Miss will see Rebel All-American MJ Erb run in the men’s 3000-meter steeplechase final at 3:55 p.m. CT.

BROADCAST SCHEDULE (All Times CT)

Sunday, June 24
11:30 AM | NBC Sports Gold (Live)
3:00 - 5:00 PM | NBC (Live)

REMAINING COMPETITION SCHEDULE (All Times CT)

Day Four (Sun., June 24)
1:45 PM – Men’s High Jump – Ricky Robertson
2:10 PM – Women’s Shot Put – Raven Saunders, Jeneva Stevens, Jessica Ramsey, Janeah Stewart
2:20 PM – Men’s Discus – Brian Williams
3:55 PM – Men’s 3000-Meter Steeplechase, Finals – MJ Erb

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