Three League Titles Fuel Strong Ole Miss Finish at SEC Outdoors
Branden Greene celebrates a big high jump clearance that led to his SEC title. (photo by Petre Thomas)
May 14, 2016

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Ole Miss athletes claimed three individual conference titles, and the Rebel men tied for their second-best SEC outdoor finish in program history at the 2016 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

The three SEC outdoor individual titles were the most for the Rebels since winning three in 2008.

With a fifth-place team showing (66.5 points), the Rebel men matched the 2014 team with the program's second-best SEC outdoor result. Only the 1984 squad's runner-up finish has been higher.

The men captured two individual titles on Saturday's final day of competition, as sophomore Craig Engels took the 1500-meter crown and senior Branden Greene won the high jump.

In the 1500, Engels and junior Robert Domanic stormed through the final 300 meters of the race to out-kick the field for a 1-2 Ole Miss finish in 3:50.71 and 3:50.92, respectively. Junior Sean Tobin placed fifth (3:51.81) and sophomore Derek Gutierrez eighth (3:52.31) to give Ole Miss 23 points in that event alone.

Engels, a Pfafftown, North Carolina, native who ranks third in the event nationally, is Ole Miss' first champion in the SEC 1500 meters. The result comes after the Rebels dominated the SEC indoor mile with a 1-2-3 finish by Domanic, Tobin and Ryan Manahan back in February.

Greene came through with a career day in the high jump, clearing a lifetime-best 2.19m/7-2.25 and winning his first SEC title. He moves up to No. 3 in school history and 16th in the NCAA this year. The San Diego, California, native is the first Rebel to win the SEC outdoor high jump since Ricky Robertson won three times in 2010, 2011 and 2014.

Ole Miss had more strong results in the final distance race of the weekend, as senior Ryan Walling came in runner-up in the 5000 meters (13:56.21), followed by sophomore MJ Erb in third (personal-best 14:05.23). Walling had also scored with a fourth-place finish in the 10,000 meters on Thursday, while Erb was a bronze medalist in the 3000-meter steeplechase on Friday.

Walling's finish was the best by a Rebel in the outdoor 5000 meters since Barnabas Kirui was also runner-up in 2010. Walling, a graduate transfer from North Carolina, caps an outstanding one-year SEC career that also included SEC indoor titles at 3000 and 5000 meters.

A surprise finish came from junior Barclay Angle in the pole vault. He came into the meet with a personal best of 4.86m/15-11.25 and the opening height for the SEC meet was 4.91m/16-1.25. Undeterred, he cleared that bar and then another at 5.06m/16-7.25 to tie for eighth and gain a half point for the Rebels. His clearance moves him up to sixth-best in school history.

The No. 25-ranked women improved over the last few years with an 11th-place finish (32.75 points), thanks in large part to the throwing of sophomore Raven Saunders, who won the 2016 SEC Commissioner's Trophy as the highest scoring individual female at the meet.

Saunders earned a whopping 21 points with her victory in the shot put Friday, a runner-up finish in the discus Saturday and a sixth-place showing in the hammer throw Thursday. The Charleston, South Carolina, native won silver in the discus with a throw of 56.24m/184-6 for eight points. She produced the highest finish in school history in the shot and discus and was second-best in school history in the hammer.

Saunders became the latest in a long line of Ole Miss winners of the SEC Commissioner's Trophy. Past outdoor recipients include Ricky Robertson (men, 2014), Isiah Young (men, 2013), Barnabas Kirui (men, 2010 and 2007) and Brittney Reese (women, 2008). Past indoor recipients include Walling (men, 2016), Robertson (men, 2012), Reese (women, 2008) and Tony Dees (men, 1984).

The 4x100-meter relay squad placed sixth for the second straight year, as sophomore Nicole Henderson, sophomore Shannon Ray, junior Breanna Tate and senior Khadijah Suleman ran 44.33. Last year, the squad qualified for the NCAA Championships and became the first national finalist in the event in school history.

In the pole vault, sophomore Lindsey Murray cleared 4.00m/13-1.5 to tie for seventh place and garner 0.75 point.

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

Ole Miss Head Coach Connie Price-Smith Quotes

On the men's fifth-place finish:
"It was really exciting to see our men come out and compete. We got points where we weren't sure we would. Some were a little bit of a surprise, but everybody came out and fought hard for the team."

On the women's improvement:
"The women scored 32.75 points and only had 21 from the year before. It was really exciting. They came out and competed really strong. I was really proud of the way all of them got out there and got after it."

On Raven Saunders' performance in three throwing events:
"Raven came out and did her job. She did what she was supposed to do. She competed well in the shot, got sixth in the hammer throw and then came back in the discus and ended up second there. That's what she was supposed to do, so it was nice that she came in and did it."

On preparing for the NCAA East Preliminaries and NCAA Championships:
"Right now we've got a large group of people going to the first round at regionals to try to get out to the final round at nationals. We've got about 30 people on our list, so it's going to be a few hard weeks of training and getting ready for Jacksonville and seeing what we can do there."

1500 Meter SEC Champion Craig Engels

"We had a plan going in. I don't know that we executed it right, but it was fun out there and I'm glad Robert (Domanic) got second."

1500 Meter SEC Runner-up Robert Domanic

On coming from behind over the last 300 meters of the race:
"With the last 300 meters we knew we could at least out-kick the other guys in the race, aside from (Sean) Tobin. We know that when it comes down to the end we're going to have to dig deeper and we have that speed we need to beat everybody else. We're glad we came in 1-2. We were trying to replicate the performance we had indoors.

On what their performance means for Ole Miss:
"It's huge for the program. We're still making steps to be one of the elites. That's what our goal is. We're trying to get recognized by all the powerhouses that we want to become one of those. So winning the SEC 1500 for the first time is a big step for the program. Hopefully with that we'll attract more talent and people will know that we're here to win. We're not going to blow over."

High Jump SEC Champion Branden Greene

"All day I had been going through great and clearing it on first attempts. So it was just there for me. I was feeling it today. This is my last SEC outdoors as a Rebel, so I had to do it big somehow."

On what he's focusing on now:
"Consistency and just making it to NCAAs."

FINAL TEAM STANDINGS

MEN
1. Arkansas - 121
2. Texas A&M - 101
3. Alabama - 88
4. LSU - 86
5. Ole Miss - 66.5
6. Florida - 64
7. Georgia - 58
8. Missouri - 55
9. Tennessee - 53.5
10. Kentucky - 48.5
11. South Carolina - 33.5
12. Mississippi State - 29
13. Auburn - 15

WOMEN
1. Arkansas - 126.75
2. Texas A&M - 82
3. Kentucky - 80
4. Tennessee - 76
5. LSU - 75
6. Alabama - 67.25
7. Florida - 61
8. Georgia - 59
9. Mississippi State - 49.5
10. Auburn - 37
11. Ole Miss - 32.75
12. Missouri - 29.75
13. South Carolina - 26
14. Vanderbilt - 16

SATURDAY AGATE

MEN

800 Meter Final
9. Dameon Morgan - 1:49.42

1500 Meter Final
1. Craig Engels - 3:50.71 (10 points)
2. Robert Domanic - 3:50.92 (8 points)
5. Sean Tobin - 3:51.81 (4 points)
8. Derek Gutierrez - 3:52.31 (1 point)
9. Trevor Gilley - 3:53.19
11. Ryan Manahan - 3:56.93

5000 Meters
2. Ryan Walling - 13:56.21 (8 points)
3. MJ Erb - 14:05.23 (PR) (6 points)
11. Sean Tobin - 14:27.95
14. Robert Domanic - 14:30.39
16. Craig Engels - 14:36.57
24. Trevor Gilley - 14:48.70

High Jump
1. Branden Greene - 2.19m/7-2.25 (PR) (10 points)

Pole Vault
T8. Barclay Angle - 5.06m/16-7.25 (PR) (0.5 point)

Discus
11. Kevin Conway - 51.55m/169-1

WOMEN

1500 Meter Final
9. Bo Ummels - 4:31.56

5000 Meters
15. Bo Ummels - 16:53.63
16. Britt Ummels - 16:55.02 (PR)
21. Haley Ward - 17:06.59 (PR)
23. Anna Braswell - 17:15.65
26. Elisabeth Gaillet - 17:19.35
29. Tavyn Lovitt - 17:30.32

4x100 Meter Relay
6. Ole Miss (Henderson, Ray, B. Tate, Suleman) - 44.33 (3 points)

4x400 Meter Relay
10. Ole Miss (Alexander, Carbo, A. Newsome, D. Tate) - 3:36.44

Pole Vault
7. Lindsey Murray - 4.00m/13-1.5 (0.75 point)
Callie Watson - NH
Katy McAuley - NH

Triple Jump
16. Lanae Newsome - 12.34m/40-6

Discus
2. Raven Saunders - 56.24m/184-6 (8 points)


 

 

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