Some of the best college and pro track athletes will be on display as they compete in the annual Ole Miss Invitational on Saturday. The meet begins at the Ole Miss Track and Field Complex at 10 a.m. with two field events, the hammer throw and javelin, while the first running event begins at 11 a.m.
Ole Miss is one of 48 college teams that will take part in the meet while former OM All-Americans, Antwon Hicks and Brittany Reese, will also compete.
Head track coach Joe Walker said there is a lot of reasons to come to Saturday’s meet, which is also free and open to the public, including one of the few opportunities to see the team run at home.
“We’ve got seven or eight kids on both the men’s and women’s side who are ranked at the top level. We have a large group ranked in the top 25,” Walker said. “We travel all of indoor (season) and we travel most of outdoor and we come here and we’re in front of our friends, students and family. We like it because you sleep at home, you’re not on the road.
“We traveled this year to the Tyson meet in Arkansas and got stranded and it took us 15 hours to get there. It’s good to get off the road and not having to wait for a plane or catch a bus. You can do your routine and do your thing. We’ve got a phenomenal facility here. It’s a good place to run. It’s not like we’re taking a backstep in that regard.”
Both teams have some talented athletes who have performed well in both the indoor and some of the early outdoor meets, Walker said. Last week Ole Miss performed well in the 67th Pepsi Florida Relays and each week Walker has seen progress since a subpar showing in the SEC Indoor meet.
“I feel really good about our teams. We’re coming off a really fine indoor season. We had a rough SEC indoor meet and that was due to a lot of reasons, but then we bounced back and were 11th in NCAA (meet) and 23rd in the women. I think it’s significant any time a team finishes 11th in the country, you’ve got to be happy and to have both teams ranked in the top 25 is exciting,” Walker said. “Each meet takes on more importance period. The longer you go the more important that meet is. The meet you’re at that time is important and then it’s a building block to the next meet. You have to be ready at the right time. We don’t have a regular season record. Our sport is not built like that.
“It’s about individual development and it’s about getting to be as fit as you can be and it’s a gradual process. You’re trying to come away with something each meet that propels you into that next meet. You’re not always going to get better each week, but that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Some of the outstanding performances this year have been turned in by Juliana Smith in the hammer throw, Logan Waites in the 5,000 meter run, Sofie Persson in the 400 hurdles, Neal Tisher in the pole vault, who has the ability to jump 14 feet, Brittany Bozeman in the long jump and Betty Williams in the discus.
On the men’s side, Ricky Robertson has continued to shine in the high jump, 400 hurdlers Carson Blanks and Lee Moore have performed well and both finished second and third in the Florida Relays, Martin Kirui in long distance events, while several of the relay teams have done well.
Three former Oxford High standouts, Chris Bush, Anne Threlkeld and Carl Smith, will also be competing in Saturday’s meet, although Smith, who is redshirting this year, is unattached. (April 8, 2011)