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Kendricks pulls upset with first Diamond League win

A local standout topped a world record holder and a former world champion for his latest professional pole vault title.

Sam Kendricks of the U.S. withstood some of the world’s toughest competition to claim the championship at the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Diamond League meeting in Shanghai on Saturday. Kendricks, an Oxford High graduate who competed collegiately at Ole Miss, cleared the bar at 5.88 meters on his third attempt to pull the upset over Renaud Lavillenie of France and Canada’s Shawn Barber.

Lavillenie, the world record holder in the event and six-time Diamond Race winner, didn’t get any higher than 5.83 while Barber, who won the world championship last year in Beijing, came in third. It was the first Diamond League victory for Kendricks, who will try for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team at the Olympic trials this summer.

Kendricks

Kendricks

With the win, Kendricks moved to second on this year’s world list.

Getting an early start on his professional career by foregoing his senior year at Ole Miss, Kendricks won the USA indoor championship earlier this year while placing second in the World Indoors.

Kendricks starred for the Rebels from 2012-14, finishing his collegiate career as a U.S. champion, Word University Games champion, two-time NCAA champion, two-time Southeastern Conference champion and a five-time All-American while setting school records in both indoor (18 feet, 8.25 inches) and outdoor (19-0.75).

During his time at Oxford, Kendricks was named the Mississippi Gatorade Athlete of the Year in boys track and field for the 2010-11 season.