Saunders, Williams Break More Records in Season Opener
Jan. 14, 2017
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The second day of the Ole Miss Rebels’ season-opening track & field meet was much like the first, featuring more NCAA-leading performances and school records.
On Saturday at the Commodore Invitational, Ole Miss throwers put on another powerful display with an NCAA-leading women’s shot put from junior Raven Saunders and a school-record men’s shot put from new Rebel Brian Williams.
On the weekend, Ole Miss athletes recorded two school records, one facility record, two NCAA-leading marks, two event victories, four runners-up and a remarkable 33 indoor personal bests.
“It was a really good first meet,” head coach Connie Price-Smith said. “I was very pleased with the way that most of our athletes competed. Everybody kind of got their feet wet. I think some of the younger ones will be a little less nervous next time out. All they have to do is compete and do what they’ve been doing in the past and in training. Now they know they should be able to compete with anybody out there.”
Saunders, a 2016 Bowerman finalist, picked up where she left off a year ago when she set collegiate records for both indoor and outdoor shot put and placed fifth at the Rio Olympics. The Charleston, South Carolina, native uncorked a throw of 19.10m/62-8 that was a facility record and by far the best in the NCAA this year. It was the second-best indoor throw of her career (behind only her record of 19.23m/63-1.25) and the fifth-best mark in NCAA indoor history. She joins Oklahoma’s Tia Brooks and North Carolina’s Laura Gerraughty as the only women to throw 19 meters on multiple occasions indoors.
“She threw well,” Price-Smith said of Saunders. “It took her a little to find her rhythm, and she found it. It was a good opener for her.”
Saunders’ new teammate, junior college transfer Janeah Stewart, placed fifth in the shot put with a mark of 15.67m/51-5 that ranks her third in school history, one day after her NCAA-leading and school-record weight throw.
Not to be outdone by the ladies, junior college transfer Brian Williams made his mark in his Ole Miss shot put debut, shattering an 11-year-old school record with his personal-best mark of 18.83m/61-9.5 that ranks him among the top five or 10 in the NCAA this year. The previous Rebel record of 17.71m/58-1.25 was set by Derek McGuire in 2006.
“It was really nice to see (Janeah and Brian) come out and perform and compete so well,” Price-Smith said. “They were always really capable of those marks, so it was good to see them come in and take off like that.”
The pole vaulters also had a big opener for the 21st-ranked Rebel women. Freshman Sandra Brown took the win in her collegiate debut with a personal-best 4.09m/13-5, good for No. 3 in school history. She led a 1-2-4-4-6 finish for the Rebels, which included junior Lindsey Murray (3.99m/13-1), freshman Nicole Kallenberger (3.89m/12-9), senior Callie Watson (PR 3.89m/12-9) and sophomore Katy McAuley (3.79m/12-5.25).
Other top performers for the women included a personal-best 800-meter run by sophomore Maddie McHugh (2:10.03) to move up to No. 9 in school history and freshman Jeanette Paul clocking a PR 8.70 in the 60-meter hurdles for No. 8 in school history.
Of the 12 men who competed on Saturday, seven were freshmen, many of whom were competing in the first indoor meet of their life. Top performances included freshman Courtland Barnes running 6.94 in the 60 meters and senior Trevor Gilley clocking 4:06.41 in the mile.
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