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Rio 2016: Sam Kendricks qualifies for pole vault finals

Sam Kendricks is one step closer to reaching the Olympic podium.

The Oxford native and former Charger and Ole Miss Rebel finished first in the men’s pole vault qualifying round Saturday night inside the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The qualifying mark to advance to Monday’s finals was set at 5.75 meters (18 feet, 10 inches), but Kendricks nor anyone else needed to attempt it.

Kendricks went a perfect 4-for-4 on his first attempts at heights of 5.30, 5.45, 5.60 and 5.70. He was the only vaulter to have a clean sheet, not missing on first attempts, to earn the top spot. It puts Kendricks in the driver’s seat as he will be the last to jump in the finals and will know exactly what he needs to do to make the podium, or possibly bring home a gold medal.

Eight other vaulters also cleared the 5.70 mark. Greece’s Konstadinos Filippidis, host country Brazil’s Thiago Braz Da Silva, France’s Renaud Lavillenie and China’s Xue Changrui round out the top five.

Monday’s finals will air around 6:15 p.m. CT on nbcolympics.com and on NBC starting at 7 p.m.