May 14, 2018
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – After a full weekend of going up against some of the deepest and talented teams in the NCAA, the No. 23 Ole Miss women’s track and field team proved they belong in the upper echelon of the Southeastern Conference with a historic fifth-place finish at the 2018 SEC Outdoor Championships on Sunday.
Ole Miss ended with 74 points overall following a spectacular weekend of competition, going into the 4x400-meter relays within title contention, trailing the eventual champion, No. 9 Florida, by just nine points at 83-74. The Rebels finished in fifth by meet’s end, which registers as the highest in the history of the Ole Miss women’s program.
“I am really proud of our women,” said Ole Miss head coach Connie Price-Smith. “They came out and did a great job. They were going after wins and points, and I’m just extremely proud of how they got out there and competed.”
Three Rebel women earned bronze medals on Day Three, including the third medal of the weekend from senior All-American Janeah Stewart – who came away with her third-straight Commissioner’s Trophy, which is awarded to the meet’s top scorer.
“She is one of the quiet leaders,” Price-Smith said. “She doesn’t always say a lot, but she leads by example. She gets in there and she takes care of business. Despite her hand injury and some bad luck, she refused to lose, and that’s just the kind of attitude that you have to have. She’s been like that since she’s been here. I’m really proud of what she has done here, and the way that she has done it.”
It was the discus where Stewart shined on Sunday, taking a bronze medal with a third-place finish at a six-inch season-best 54.91m (180-02). Stewart caught yet another spate of bad luck, just barely dragging her heel across the front of the ring on what was sure to be the winning throw around the 57-meter mark to go along with losing out on the hammer title by two inches on Day One.
Still, Stewart’s performance was an impressive one nonetheless. She ended the weekend with 24 total points to win the Commissioner’s Trophy, the most by an SEC woman since Florida’s Genevieve LaCaze tallied 30 in 2012. She leaves Ole Miss with 80 total SEC points in just two seasons, going 10-for-10 and earning a medal in each event she has competed in.
Freshman Shey Taiwo followed her lead, scoring for the Rebels in eighth place at an eight-foot PR of 48.72m (159-10) to improve on her place in fifth all-time at Ole Miss.
The most impressive performance of the weekend, though, came from senior Lindsey Murray in the women’s pole vault. Murray completed her redemption tour after missing the entire 2017 outdoor season due to injury, smashing her own school record in the event today among some of the best pole vaulters in the history of the NCAA.
Murray was clean over every bar she hit, eventually finding herself with just one miss at what would be a new school-record 4.35m (14-03.25). Murray cleared for the record on her second attempt, finishing third for her first-career SEC medal behind Arkansas stars Lexi Jacobus (winner, 4.65m/15-03.00) and Tori Hoggard (runner-up, 4.50m/14-09.00).
The jump today was a long time coming for Murray, who has battled back over a long road to recovery since her season-ending injury last season. She now sits at No. 6 on the East Region list and No. 9 overall in the NCAA.
Junior Maddie McHugh completed the trifecta of Rebel women’s bronze medals on Day Three, finding her way to the podium in the 800-meter for the second-straight conference meet. After snagging the bronze medal in dramatic fashion indoors, McHugh put forth a drama-less performance today instead, finishing third at a season-best 2:05.54 (No. 17 East, No. 30 NCAA). McHugh showed some impressive closing speed, clipping off a 61 on her final lap to stick with the winners, Texas A&M national title caliber 800-meter runners Sammy Watson (2:03.37) and Jasmine Fray (2:03.55).
Also scoring for the Rebel women on Day Three were Shelby Brown (sixth, 16:43.51) and Clio Ozanne-Jaques (seventh, 16:45.67) in the 5K.
The Rebel men were no slouches either, winning two gold medals on Day Three to finish ninth overall at 43 points.
Senior Robert Domanic, the top 1500-meter runner in the United States this season, kept the Ole Miss streak alive in the 1500, winning his first-career outdoor title at 3:45.84 to make it three straight Rebel men wins in the event (joining Craig Engels’ wins in 2016 and 2017).
Domanic won with ease, taking control with a stunning kick over his final lap that clocked in at 53.53. His win was even more impressive considering that there were 20 runners in the final due to a massive collision during the second heat of the prelims on Day Two.
Also scoring for the Rebel men in the 1500 was freshman Everett Smulders, who looks to be the future of the event going forward for Ole Miss after running 3:48.71 for sixth place.
Senior All-American Brian Williams was the lone defending SEC champion for Ole Miss this championship meet, and he successfully defended his title in the discus with a smooth performance on Sunday.
Williams won in dominant fashion by 16 feet at 59.87m (196-05), in the process becoming the first SEC thrower to successfully defend in the discus since Kentucky’s Colin Boevers did so in 2010 and 2011.
Like his fellow Iowa Central transfer Janeah Stewart, Williams leaves Ole Miss with an impressive SEC meet resume. In just two years as a Rebel, Williams has scored 38 total conference points and won multiple gold medals outdoors – something only five other Rebel men have ever done.
The future looked bright for the Ole Miss men following several impressive scoring performances out of the lowerclassmen.
Freshman Peyton Weissmann had an incredible day in the men’s pole vault, clearing a half-foot PR to finish fifth overall. Weissmann became just the fourth member of the Ole Miss 17-foot club, clearing 5.20m (17-00.75) on his first attempt. Weissmann also assuredly punched his ticket to the East Regional, as he currently sits tied for 25th on the descending list.
Waleed Suliman, the fastest freshman nationally in the 800-meter, took sixth in the event at 1:49.29. Suliman was part of a very fast first lap at 51.65, but he fell off the winning pace down the stretch. Fellow freshman Cade Bethmann was eighth at 1:50.91.
Ole Miss also snagged a point in the men’s 4x400-meter relay from the underclassmen quartet of sophomore Alvin Westbrook, sophomore Andrew Raspo, freshman John Rivera Jr.and Bethmann, which ran 3:14.51 for eighth place.
All told, the Rebel men’s and women’s freshmen scored 30 total points.
“I was really proud of our young kids,” Price-Smith said. “When you come into a championship like this and to be able to go out and step up and compete like they did, it just shows a lot for the future of our team. I think the seniors that were they helped them along, so it was a good blend this year. The freshmen learned a lot, and when they come back next year, hopefully they’ll pull the other ones along.”
With conference now in the rearview mirror, the Rebels now look toward what is usually the toughest meet of the season: the NCAA Regional. In order to qualify, student-athletes needed to finish the season ranked top-48 on the region descending list in an individual event, or top-24 in a relay. The top-12 from each region in the heptathlon and decathlon automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Ole Miss is set to send quite a large group to the regional meet, but the qualifiers will be officially confirmed in the coming days. This year, the NCAA East Regional will take place in Tampa from May 24-26.
“We’ve got 10 days to prepare,” Price-Smith said. “There are some things we need to fix in some areas, and even in some areas where we did well in this weekend. I’m excited that we’ll have such a large group going, and I have no doubt that our staff will go back in the next couple days and get our team prepared.”
Final Women’s Team Scores:
1. #9 Florida – 91
2. #1 LSU – 88.5
3. #8 Texas A&M – 79.5
4. #15 Tennessee – 78
5. #23 Ole Miss – 74
6. #4 Arkansas – 70
6. #5 Kentucky – 70
8. #6 Georgia – 61
9. #17 Alabama – 53.5
10. #18 Missouri – 53
11. Auburn – 38.5
12. Mississippi State – 30
13. South Carolina – 20
14. Vanderbilt – 10
Final Men’s Team Scores:
1. #1 Florida – 111
2. #5 Texas A&M – 100
3. #8 Arkansas – 99
4. #3 Alabama – 97.66
5. #6 Georgia – 71
6. Tennessee – 66.5
7. #13 Kentucky – 54.33
8. #12 LSU – 48
9. Ole Miss – 43
10. Auburn – 41
11. #20 Mississippi State – 39
12. South Carolina – 31.5
13. Missouri - 13
Women’s Commissioner’s Trophy (most points scored):
Janeah Stewart – 24 points
Day Three Medalists:
Robert Domanic – Men’s 1500-Meter, Gold Medal
Brian Williams – Men’s Discus, Gold Medal
Maddie McHugh – Women’s 800-Meter, Bronze Medal
Lindsey Murray – Women’s Pole Vault, Bronze Medal
Janeah Stewart – Women’s Discus, Bronze Medal
Other Day Three Scorers:
Peyton Weissmann – Men’s Pole Vault, 5th Place
Shelby Brown – Women’s 5K, 6th Place
Everett Smulders – Men’s 1500-Meter, 6th Place
Waleed Suliman – Men’s 800-Meter, 6th Place
Clio Ozanne-Jaques – Women’s 5K, 7th Place
Cade Bethmann – Men’s 800-Meter, 8th Place
Cade Bethmann – Men’s 4x400-Meter Relay, 8th Place
Andrew Raspo – Men’s 4x400-Meter Relay, 8th Place
John Rivera Jr. – Men’s 4x400-Meter Relay, 8th Place
Shey Taiwo – Women’s Discus, 8th Place
Alvin Westbrook – Men’s 4x400-Meter Relay, 8th Place
Day Two Medalists:
Shelby Brown – Women’s 3000-Meter Steeplechase, Gold Medal
Janeah Stewart – Women’s Shot Put, Gold Medal
Lisa Vogelgesang – Women’s 3000-Meter Steeplechase, Silver Medal
Other Day Two Scorers:
Parker Scott – Men’s 3000-Meter Steeplechase, 4th Place
Kieshonna Brooks – Women’s Heptathlon, 5th Place
Hannah Christen – Women’s 3000-Meter Steeplechase, 6th Place
Allen Gordon – Men’s Long Jump, 7th Place
Sean Tobin – Men’s 3000-Meter Steeplechase, 7th Place
Brian Williams – Men’s Shot Put, 7th Place
Day One Medalists:
Janeah Stewart – Women’s Hammer, Silver Medal
Other Day One Scorers:
Nicole Rice – Women’s 10K, 6th Place
Kendall Chavarria – Women’s Hammer, 7th Place
Emily Bean – Women’s 10K, 8th Place
Annika Larsson – Women’s Hammer, 8th Place
OTHER REBELS IN DAY THREE COMPETITION:
Women’s 1500-Meter Finals:
9. Kat MacNeal – 4:30.73
10. Ylva Traxler – 4:33.33
12. Hannah Christen – 16:58.90
13. Emily Bean – 16:59.91
18. Nicole Rice – 17:10.15
25. Maddie King – 17:36.25
29. Victoria Simmons – 17:42.68
43. Anna Elkin – 18:17.29
10. Michael Coccia – 14:26.21
19. Brandon Harvey – 14:44.62
20. Robinson Snider – 14:54.16
29. Mark Robertson – 15:24.26
Women’s 4x100-Meter Relay:
10. Nicole Henderson, Jolie Carbo, Jeanette Paul, Shannon Ray – 44.51 – 7th all-time
Women’s 4x400-Meter Relay:
9. Jolie Carbo, Jasmin Allen, Aisha Newsome, Mercedes Mattix – 3:36.75 – 9th all-time
Women’s Pole Vault:
11. Katy McAuley – 4.05m (13-03.50) – SB, T-27th East
Men’s High Jump:
14. Allen Gordon – 2.06m (6-09.00)
Women’s Triple Jump:
18. Lanae Newsome – 12.31m (40-04.75)
Men’s Triple Jump:
12. Fraquan Gaines – 14.84m (48-08.25) – SB
12. Cullen Prena – 52.71m (172-11)
For more information on Ole Miss Track & Field and Cross Country, follow the Rebels on Twitter (@OleMissTrack), Facebook and Instagram.