Rebels Wrap Up 2016 Indoor Season at NCAA Championships
Raven Saunders (photo by Joshua McCoy)
March 12, 2016

Results | Photo Gallery

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The 2016 indoor track & field season resulted in 10 Ole Miss program records, five Southeastern Conference titles, five first team All-Americans, an all-time collegiate record and the best SEC men’s indoor finish in school history.

Although the final day of the season was not the finish the Rebels wanted Saturday at the NCAA Indoor Championships at the Birmingham CrossPlex, it has been a campaign to remember for first-year head coach Connie Price-Smith and her squad.

Sophomore Raven Saunders, who earlier this season set the all-time collegiate women’s shot put record (19.23m/63-1.25) and went on to win her first SEC title, finished 11th in the event on Saturday. Her first attempt traveled 16.59m/54-5.25 before a pair of fouls kept her out of advancing to the final. It was the first national championship at which she has not finished first in her young career (indoor and outdoor champion last year as a freshman at Southern Illinois).

Fellow sophomore Lindsey Murray, who came into nationals ranked 15th in the women’s pole vault, did not clear the opening height of 4.10m/13-5.25.

“Today obviously wasn’t a good day,” Price-Smith said. “For as good as yesterday was, today was just as bad, but it’s a learning experience. Both (Saunders and Murray) have been to nationals before, so it’s not new to them. But hopefully they take away what happened here, and head into outdoors and figure out what went wrong and get better.”

On Saunders’ performance, Price-Smith said, “Every good athlete once in their career is going to fall. It’s how you bounce back from that that’s going to make you a good athlete or a great athlete. I think she’s going to come back and be strong outdoors because she doesn’t like that feeling. Nobody likes that feeling.”

It was still a strong weekend for the Rebels based on Friday night’s results that included the best national finish in school history for the men’s distance medley relay. The quartet of Robert Domanic, Derek Gutierrez, Craig Engels and Sean Tobin placed third with the second-best time in school history, 9:31.82.

Senior Ryan Walling finished seventh in the 5000 meters in his NCAA meet debut, running 13:53.52.

With eight team points, Ole Miss was tied for 27th in the final men’s team standings. They were one point shy of a top-25 national finish.

“The men were absolutely awesome,” Price-Smith added. “It was exciting because we had a lot of Ole Miss fans in the crowd, and they were just as excited as the athletes running. I was just extremely happy for them and for coach (Ryan) Vanhoy because he’s put a lot of work into them. They’re a great group, and they’re gelling together. They have the same goal and they’re striving to be successful.”

The University of Oregon won NCAA team titles on both the men’s and women’s sides. Arkansas was the runner-up on both sides.

Ole Miss will immediately jump into the 2016 outdoor season next weekend at the Alabama Relays, held Thursday-Saturday in Tuscaloosa.

For more information on Ole Miss Track & Field, follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissTrack, as well as Facebook and Instagram.

COMPLETE AGATE

MEN

5000 Meters
7. Ryan Walling – 13:53.52 (2 points)

Distance Medley Relay
3. Ole Miss (Domanic, Gutierrez, Engels, Tobin) – 9:31.82 (6 points)

WOMEN

Pole Vault
Lindsey Murray – NH

Shot Put
11. Raven Saunders – 16.59m/54-5.25


 

 

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