By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Sam Kendricks thought Saturday’s windy conditions would hamper his attempt for a state record pole vault in the 41st annual Daily Journal Relays.
Boy, he was wrong.
Kendricks, a senior from Oxford High School, battled a strong crosswind and vaulted 16-feet, 1/2 inch on his second attempt to win the competition and break the unofficial state record of 16-feet held by Clinton’s Steven Greer.
“I’m very happy to now hold that record,” an elated Kendricks said.
The are no official state records kept in track and field, a spokesman for the Mississippi High School Activities Association said. The MHSAA only recognizes records set in the annual state meet in Pearl.
Kendricks later failed on three attempts at 16-3.
“We never have wind like this at our place,” said Kendricks, who has a career-best 16-9 practice vault this season. “My goal today was 16-0, then 16-6, but I’m not going to blame the conditions.”
Oxford coach Scott Kendricks, Sam’s father, believes his son could have vaulted higher Saturday in better conditions.
“That crosswind killed us,” he said. “It’s a lot better to have a tailwind. The crosswind throws your run off.
“You’d love to have better conditions to jump that kind of height, but you take what you can get on meet day.”
Tupelo pole vaulter A.J. Stewart, who finished second to Kendricks with a vault of 12-6, said his opponent is “on another level” in the event.
“The guy’s a great vaulter,” Stewart said. “I love his attitude and work ethic. That’s why he’s a top-level vaulter.”
Kendricks’ teammate, high jumper Justin Fondren, won his event with a 6-foot, 10-inch jump.
Fondren’s 7-1 earlier this season is one of the nation’s best jumps.
Their wins helped lead the Chargers to the boys Division 1 team championship with 202 points.
Pontotoc’s girls won the Division 1 title with 173 points. The Division 2 winners were Corinth girls with 156 points and Kossuth boys with 135 points.
Having a Ball
Pontotoc’s Rhandi Ball was breathing hard after winning the girls Division 1 100 meters in 12.27 seconds. That’s because moments earlier, she had won the 100-meter hurdles in 15.20 seconds.
“It’s tough to run them back-to-back, but this is my third year to do it,” she said. “My sophomore year, at a meet in Oxford, the clock messed up on the huddles and we had to run them again.”
Actually, Ball participated in back-to-back-to-back events Saturday. She had just finished high jumping prior to the start of the hurdles. She finished third.
Later in the meet, Ball won the 200 meters in 25.96.
Ball, a Daily Journal All-Area basketball selection, signed a national letter of intent earlier the week to play basketball for Delta State.
“They’ve talked about me playing guard and forward,” she said. “I’m excited about it. They’ve got a good basketball program.”
Ebony Brinker, a Mississippi State signee, was a double winner for the Warriors with wins in the triple jump and long jump.
Ripley’s Page Rowland was a triple winner in the Division 2 girls distance runs, capturing the 800 meters in 2:45.60, the 1,600 meters in 5:54 and the 3,200 meters in 12:36.22.
Tupelo sprinters David Calmes, Arlanders Elliott, Garrett Rogers and Mark Sansone won the 4 x 400 relay in 3:30.60.
Golden Wave freshman Andrew White won the 3,200 meters in 10:20.94.
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593
Read more and see photos from the event in today’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.