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Former Rebel Kendricks breaks American pole vault record

Graphic courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics
Graphic courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

It was a record setting weekend for two former Rebels at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships in Iowa.

At Drake Stadium, Olympic bronze medalist Sam Kendricks set a new U.S. record in pole vaulting while three-time Olympian Brittney Reese captured her eighth career outdoor national title in long jump.

Kendricks – an Oxford native and the reigning world champion with an automatic bye to the IAAF World Championships in Qatar later this year – was perfect over his first eight bars, wrapping up the competition and his sixth consecutive U.S. outdoor title with his clearance of 5.86m (19-02.75). He then went on to clear 5.91m (19-04.75) on his first attempt as well before instructing officials to move the bar to an American record height of 6.06m (19-10.50).

Despite missing his first attempt at the record, Kendricks tried again and cleared the bar.

“As I came over the bar I looked to the left and saw that I hit it, but I didn’t hit it as hard as I did the one before, and I said, that’s gonna stay,” Kendricks told reporters after the competition. “And as I was falling I said, they’re about to come tackle me. All of these guys, I know them, we’ve been jumping together for years. I looked and they were lined up on the edge of the runway clapping for me. I’ve never been to a competition where there’s enough guys that want success for you that bad.”

His performance on Saturday puts him No. 2 on the all-time world outdoor list and tied for third on the combined indoor/outdoor list, in addition to toppling Mondo Duplantis’ American record of 6.05m (19-10.25) from 2018. Kendricks’ win is his sixth outdoor title in a row, making him the first American to win that many consecutively.

Reese – the 2012 Olympic gold medalist and 2016 silver medalist – had a superb competition of her own, winning her 12th overall U.S. long jump title and her eighth outdoors with a Drake Stadium record 7.00m (22-11.75) on her second attempt. It was her first wind-legal seven-meter jump of the season, and it was good for a dominant eight-inch victory in her 11th year on the pro circuit since leaving Ole Miss in 2008.

“This was a good one,” Reese said. “I wanted to just go out and try to get the world lead, and I still ended up getting a seven-meter jump. Finally got one to be legal, so I’m really impressed with that. I’m a little bit behind on my training. I know I’ve got eight weeks left to be where I need to be. To me, I’m right on schedule. I’m where I need to be, just got to shore up some things and get some more speed work in and everything will fall into place.”

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