Saunders' Shot Put Title Headlines Another Big Day for Ole Miss at SEC Outdoors
Raven Saunders pumps her first after setting a meet record and winning her second SEC shot put title in 2016. (photo by Petre Thomas)
May 13, 2016

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Another SEC shot put title for Raven Saunders paced the No. 25 Ole Miss women and No. 28 Rebel men’s contingent on a strong day two of the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Friday.

Through two of three days at the nation’s premier conference meet, Ole Miss sits in seventh in the men’s team standings (19 points) and ninth in the women’s standings (21 points) with a load of scoring opportunities during Saturday’s championship finals. The Rebels have had four scorers and two medalists on the men’s side and three scorers and two medalists on the women’s side. A total of eight Rebels qualified through preliminary races and into Saturday’s running finals, while there are several scoring opportunities in field events on Saturday as well.

With 21 team points, the women have already matched their total from last year’s SEC outdoor meet.

Saunders, a sophomore from Charleston, South Carolina, captured the SEC outdoor shot put crown after winning the indoor shot put back in February. Improving her marks in each round of the finals, she broke the SEC meet record three times leading up to her last attempt of 18.58m/60-11.5. It was just off her outdoor personal best of 18.75m/61-6.25, but she did become the first SEC woman to eclipse 60 feet at the league meet (doing so three times).

The first SEC outdoor shot put champ in school history – male or female – Saunders placed sixth in the hammer throw on Thursday (personal-best 57.97m/190-2) and will compete in the discus on Saturday. She comes into the championship ranked third among SEC discus throwers.

Ole Miss also had a big scorer on the men’s side Friday, as sophomore MJ Erb captured third place in the men’s 3000-meter steeplechase for six team points. He kicked well on the final lap to clock a lifetime best of 8:43.06 that moves him up to No. 3 in school history and top 20 in the NCAA this year. He’s the best Ole Miss finisher in the SEC men’s steeple since Martin Kirui and Barnabas Kirui went 1-2 in 2010.

Saunders’ powerful throwing and Erb’s strong finish were the only things that could have stolen the Rebels’ lead story of the night from the men’s 1500-meter preliminaries.

Ole Miss sent six runners into the three heats of the 1500-meter preliminaries, and all six advanced to Saturday’s 12-man final. The championship final will have a distinctly red and blue flavor with these six: sophomore Craig Engels (3:46.72), junior Trevor Gilley (3:46.73), junior Sean Tobin (3:48.00), junior Robert Domanic (3:48.04), sophomore Derek Gutierrez (3:48.06) and sophomore Ryan Manahan (3:48.12). Engels and Tobin won their heats outright, while five of the six qualified automatically and Manahan made it through on time.

The Rebels will seek big points in the 1500-meter final, which takes place at 3:30 p.m. CT. In the SEC indoor mile back in February, Ole Miss went 1-2-3 with Domanic, Tobin and Manahan.

Ole Miss also had a female qualifier in the 1500 meters for the first time in school history. Senior Bo Ummels raced to a time of 4:23.68, fifth-best in the prelims, to advance to the 12-woman final that will be at 3:20 p.m. CT Saturday. Her twin sister Britt Ummels just missed the final by finishing 14th in 4:25.73.

Additional personal bests achieved on Friday included Jolie Carbo in the women’s 400 meters (54.68, No. 7 in school history) and Mercedes Mattix in the women’s 400 meters (55.27).

In addition to the men’s and women’s 1500-meter finals on Saturday, Ole Miss will send Dameon Morgan into the men’s 800-meter final (4:50 p.m.), as well as Rebels in the women’s 4x100-meter relay, men’s and women’s 5000 meters, women’s 4x400-meter relay, men’s and women’s discus, women’s triple jump, men’s and women’s pole vault and men’s high jump.

Student-Athlete Quotes – SEC Shot Put Champion Raven Saunders

On winning the SEC shot put:
“Mission accomplished in the shot. I still have one more event to go (discus), so I’m not done yet.”

On throwing farther each attempt of the finals:
“Basically it was about going for it and trying to get as much as I possibly could each throw. Going after one technical thing after another to see what I could squeeze out.”

On winning indoor and outdoor SEC shot put titles this year:
“It feels great. I’m on a roll so I look forward to continuing that in the future, as long as I keep working and stay healthy.”

On going for more team points in the discus:
“I mean basically go out and get as many points as possible. The team looks to me to go out there and give my best, and I look to lead everyone toward the best possible place that we can get outdoors.”

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


1. Georgia – 46
2. Arkansas – 45
3. Texas A&M – 34
4. Alabama – 30
5. Kentucky – 27
6. Missouri – 23
7. Ole Miss – 19
8. Florida – 18
9. South Carolina – 10
10. Tennessee – 7
11. Mississippi State – 6
12. Auburn – 5
13. LSU – 3

1. Arkansas – 44
2. Texas A&M – 28
3. Alabama – 27
4. Tennessee – 26
5. Kentucky – 24
6. Georgia – 23
7. Florida – 22
7. Mississippi State – 22
9. Ole Miss – 21
10. Auburn – 17
11. Missouri – 8
12. LSU – 7
13. South Carolina – 4



100 Meter Prelims
25. Darryl Brown – 10.79

1500 Meter Prelims
3. Craig Engels – 3:46.72Q
4. Trevor Gilley – 3:46.73Q
9. Sean Tobin – 3:48.00Q
10. Robert Domanic – 3:48.04Q
11. Derek Gutierrez – 3:48.06Q
12. Ryan Manahan – 3:48.12q

3000-Meter Steeplechase
3. MJ Erb – 8:43.06 (PR) (6 points)

13. Peyton Moss – 5,953 points


100 Meter Prelims
15. Khadijah Suleman – 11.64
22. Shannon Ray – 11.77
23. Breanna Tate – 11.77
27. Nicole Henderson – 11.90

400 Meter Prelims
21. Jolie Carbo – 54.68 (PR)
27. Kiannah Alexander – 55.27
28. Mercedes Mattix – 55.27 (PR)
31. Aisha Newsome – 56.02
32. Deanna Tate – 56.30

1500 Meter Prelims
5. Bo Ummels – 4:23.68Q
14. Britt Ummels – 4:25.73
25. Anna Braswell – 4:35.76

3000-Meter Steeplechase
13. McKenna Coughlin – 10:52.55

Long Jump
27. Lanae Newsome – 5.13m/16-10

Shot Put
1. Raven Saunders – 18.58m/60-11.5 (MR) (10 points)






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