Reese lifts UM track program yet again

Brittney Reese just concluded one of the finest years in Ole Miss sports history. On Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa, she won the NCAA Long Jump National Championship in outdoor track and field to go along with the indoor national title she won in the same event earlier this year in Fayetteville, Ark.

And it's really not been close. She won the outdoor title with a jump that was nearly a foot longer than any of the other competitors. That's world class.

Indeed it is, since the Gulfport junior holds the distinction of having the longest jump in the world in the long jump this year. She jumped 22 feet, 9 inches in a regular meet at LSU this spring. She matched that mark Thursday on the biggest college stage of them all.

For her to accomplish these feats this year, a lot of things have to line up just so. First and foremost, there has to be talent, which Reese obviously has an abundance of.

She needed to stay healthy, which she has done. Many times it's the luck of the draw as far as remaining injury free, after much training and taking care of one's body, that is. Reese has been able to be relatively healthy this year.

And long jump hasn't been her only event. Reese also high jumps and is the anchor on the 4x100 relay team for the Lady Rebs. But long jump is her strongest suit, the one she continues to excel in at a world class pace.

She also has to respond to coaching, as she obviously has done with Joe Walker and staff this year. They've been on the same page trying to help her do exactly what she has done – be a champion basically every time out.

Reese's story is even more unique in that after she initially decided to come to Ole Miss, she had to go the junior college route. At Mississippi Gulf Coast, she didn't even participate in track. She played basketball.

Reese said after junior college her mother encouraged her to keep her commitment to Ole Miss, and it was actually what she wanted to do anyway. That certainly appears to be the right thing to have done.

Two national championships this season, becoming the first Ole Miss female student-athlete to win one, has made this a "banner" year for Reese.

When she returns from the NCAA Championships, she will look ahead to the Olympic trials this summer. All things considered, it looks like she has an excellent shot at making Team USA and heading to China. Certainly her year at Ole Miss would indicate that.

In college at times, track and field can be an overlooked sport, an after thought to many of the other sports on campus. But at Ole Miss, with its still new and outstanding facility and a growing reputation as an improving track program, the Lady Rebels, who finished the year 15th nationally as a team, and Rebels are making more noise – and headlines.

Track and field has more people on its roster than any sport but football. With 50 to 60 names listed on the combined men's and women's roster, the participants are spread campus wide.

Actually track is six sports according to the NCAA. That's men's and women's indoor track and field, men's and women's outdoor track and field, and men's and women's cross country.

Six NCAA sanctioned sports. Out of 18 total at Ole Miss. Under one coaching staff. It's really an impressive and multi-faceted situation.

And it now has another national champion - times two - in Brittney Reese.

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