Ryan Walling (photo by Joshua McCoy)
June 10, 2016
Thursday Photo Gallery | Day 1 Recap
Friday Photo Gallery | Day 2 Recap
EUGENE, Ore. - When the dust settled at the end of the Rebels' run at the NCAA Outdoor Championships on Friday, it was another historic performance in a season of historic moments for first-year Ole Miss head coach Connie Price-Smith's team.
All 13 Rebels who qualified for the championships placed among the top 16 in their events at historic Hayward Field to earn All-America honors. That breaks the previous school record of nine outdoor All-Americans set last year in Eugene.
For the week, Ole Miss produced one NCAA champion, one all-time collegiate record, two school records, six first team All-Americans and 13 total All-Americans.
Top eight finishers who will receive first team All-America distinction were sophomore Raven Saunders (1st, women's shot put), sophomore Dempsey McGuigan (8th, men's hammer throw), junior Robert Domanic (6th, men's 1500 meters), sophomore Craig Engels (7th, men's 1500 meters), sophomore MJ Erb (8th, men's 3000-meter steeplechase) and senior Ryan Walling (7th, men's 5000 meters).
Rebels who finished 9-16 were sophomore Lindsey Murray (15th, women's pole vault), senior Holland Sherrer (10th, men's 800 meters), senior Branden Greene (11th, men's high jump) and sophomore Nicole Henderson, sophomore Shannon Ray, junior Breanna Tate and senior Khadijah Suleman (16th, women's 4x100-meter relay).
"It's exciting to see everybody come in here and compete and walk away being an All-American," Price-Smith said. "It's a nice ending to a long season for us."
Ole Miss finished well on Friday, as four men earned top-eight results to score team points. The Rebels ended up tied for 26th in the men's team standings with nine total points. Florida, Arkansas and Texas A&M placed 1-2-3 for a big Southeastern Conference showing.
"It was a good day," Price-Smith said. "We had the 1500, the 5000, the steeple and the high jump and they all did a great job. Some of them were saying, `oh, I could have done better,' but I think coming from last year where Ryan (Vanhoy) says no one made the final day, it's good to have them in the finals and competing, getting points and putting us on the board."
In the final event of the meet for Ole Miss, Walling made his last race as a Rebel count in a big way. The Cary, North Carolina, native stayed with the lead pack throughout the 5000-meter final and finished seventh in a personal-best 13:31.30, breaking Barnabas Kirui's eight-year-old school record by 15 seconds.
Walling's seventh-place result in the NCAA outdoor 5K was the second-best ever by a Rebel behind only Pablo Sierra's fourth-place finish in 1993.
Walling completes his one-year Ole Miss career as a two-time All-American (indoor and outdoor 5000 meters) and two-time SEC champion (indoor 3000 and 5000 meters).
The first two Ole Miss men ever to make the NCAA 1500-meter final, Domanic (Lewisville, Texas) and Engels (Pfafftown, N.C.) turned in sixth- and seventh-place finishes in 3:41.71 and 3:43.23, respectively. They ran together in the middle of the 12-man field for the entire four laps, with Domanic showing an impressive burst over the final 300 meters or so to pass Engels and another runner.
The Rebels' 1500-meter duo combined for five team points and will be the first pair of first-team All-Americans in the event in school history.
Erb put together the best NCAA steeplechase race by a Rebel since Barnabas Kirui won the event in 2007. Erb finished eighth in 8:43.81, earning a team point and clinching first team All-America status. The Farmington, New York, native had run a personal-best 8:34.13 (No. 2 in school history) in Wednesday's semifinals to qualify.
Greene, the 2016 SEC high jump champion, cleared 2.14m/7-0.25 to place 11th on Friday. That was an improvement on his 14th-place result at this meet last season. The San Diego, California, native is a two-time second team All-American to conclude his outdoor collegiate career.
With 10 team points, the Rebel women enter Saturday's NCAA women's final tied for sixth in the team standings, but Ole Miss does not have any competitors for the final day of action.
UPDATE (6/11): The Ole Miss women finished tied for 22nd in the team standings, which marks the second top-25 women's outdoor finish in school history. The Rebels tied for 15th in 2008.
Saunders established herself as one of the stars of NCAA track & field and a budding Olympic hopeful with her collegiate-record shot put performance on Thursday.
With the collegiate season now finished for Ole Miss, a few athletes will turn their attention toward next month's U.S. Olympic Trials, also in Eugene, with the hopes of making Team USA for this summer's Rio Olympics.
"We'll go home and get ready with a few athletes who will come back out in four weeks for the trials," said Price-Smith, who already knows she will be in Rio as the head coach of the Team USA women this summer. "Right now I know we'll have Raven and Craig and I'm pretty sure MJ that will come back out. We'll just go home and get back into some training and come back out and see what we can do."
For more information on Ole Miss Track & Field, follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissTrack, as well as Facebook and Instagram.
1500 Meter Final
6. Robert Domanic - 3:41.71 (3 points)
7. Craig Engels - 3:43.23 (2 points)
7. Ryan Walling - 13:31.30 (SR) (PR) (2 points)
3000 Meter Steeplechase Final
8. MJ Erb - 8:43.81 (1 point)
11. Branden Greene - 2.14m/7-0.25