Track & Field Opens Indoor Season at UAB
Jan. 11, 2018
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Ole Miss men's and women's track and field will be in search of another record-breaking campaign when it opens the 2018 indoor season at UAB for the Blazer Invite on Friday morning.
The unscored meet will feature 18 Division I schools, including three total SEC teams with Alabama and Mississippi State joining Ole Miss in the action.
The Rebels, now in their third season under head coach Connie Price-Smith, return strong teams on both the women's and men's side of competition. The Rebel women will open the season ranked No. 8 nationally in the USTFCCCA Preseason Rankings, bolstered by senior throwers Raven Saunders and Janeah Stewart.
Saunders, who was just recently named to the Bowerman Preseason Watch List, is in search of her fifth NCAA shot put title this indoor season. Saunders claimed the 2017 indoor title at a massive NCAA record toss of 19.56m (64-02.25) and set an overall career-best 19.76m (64-10.00) to win a U.S. title last summer (and rank fourth in American history).
Saunders is not scheduled to throw at this meet, but Stewart will compete in both the weight throw and shot put. Stewart earned First-Team All-American honors in the shot put both indoors and outdoors as a junior, but it's the weight where Stewart shines. She owned the top throw in the NCAA by nearly two feet at 23.18m (76-00.75), the seventh-best toss in the United States last year.
The Rebel women have additional help coming back that helped contribute to the high national ranking. Senior pole vaulter Lindsey Murray enters with the 12th-best indoor PR in the nation at 4.22m (13-10.00).
Sophomore Kaira Simmons, coming off an SEC All-Freshman campaign in 2017, will help in the long jump, entering 2018 with the 17th-best PR in the NCAA at 6.27m (20-07.00). Sophomore pole vaulter Nicole Kallenberger is also looking to improve on an All-Freshman season from last year.
Junior Maddie McHugh brings back two different Second-Team All-SEC honors as well, running as part of the third-place distance medley relay last year and finishing third overall in the 800-meter. McHugh also owned one of the seven Rebel marks that helped contribute to the No. 8 national ranking, with her 800-meter time of 2:05.38 from last year ranking as the 21st-best entering 2018.
Speaking of the DMR, the Rebel men are looking to become just the second SEC school to ever win five straight distance medleys (Arkansas won six in a row from 1997-2002). Ole Miss returns two key members from that DMR team - which also went on to win the NCAA title - in seniors Robert Domanic and Sean Tobin. Tobin is coming off a superb All-American cross country season in which he finished 12th at the national meet.
The Rebel men also boast a pair of impressive throwers in seniors Dempsey McGuigan and Brian Williams. This indoor season will be the final chance for competition for McGuigan, who enters 2018 with one First-Team All-American honor to his name (outdoor hammer throw in 2016) and an all-time weight throw PR of 20.46m (67-01.50).
Williams, meanwhile, looks to improve on a junior campaign that saw him become one of the top discus throwers in the United States at 65.13m (213-08) - the fifth-best throw in the U.S. last season. While there is no discus indoors, Williams is no slouch in the shot put or the weight throw either. Williams qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships last year and was the SEC runner-up in the shot put, finishing 14th at the national meet for Second-Team All-American honors. His overall shot put best of 19.06m (62-02.25) came at the SEC meet last year and enters 2018 as the 16th-best throw in the NCAA.
Competition begins at 10 a.m. CT with Allen Gordon in the men's high jump.
Division I Schools Competing:
North Carolina A&T
Returning Women's Indoor All-Americans:
Raven Saunders - First-Team (Shot Put, NCAA Champion; Weight Throw, 7th Place)
Janeah Stewart - First-Team (Shot Put, 8th Place); Second-Team (Weight Throw, 13th Place)
Returning Men's Indoor All-Americans:
Robert Domanic - First-Team (DMR, NCAA Champion)
Sean Tobin - First-Team (DMR, NCAA Champion)
Brian Williams - Second-Team (Shot Put, 14th Place)
Returning Women's Indoor All-SEC:
Raven Saunders - First-Team (Shot Put, 1st Place)
Janeah Stewart - First-Team (Weight Throw, 1st Place); Second-Team (Shot Put, 2nd Place)
Anna Braswell - Second-Team (DMR, 3rd Place)
Shelby Brown - Second-Team (DMR, 3rd Place)
Jolie Carbo - Second-Team (DMR, 3rd Place)
Maddie McHugh - Second-Team (DMR, 3rd Place; 800-meter, 3rd Place)
Nicole Kallenberger - All-Freshman (Pole Vault)
Kaira Simmons - All-Freshman (Long Jump)
Returning Men's Indoor All-SEC:
Robert Domanic - First-Team (DMR, 1st Place); Second-Team (Mile, 3rd Place)
Sean Tobin - First-Team (Mile, 1st Place)
Brian Williams - Second-Team (Shot Put, 2nd Place)
Rebel Women Competing:
1000-Meter: Alexa King
Rebel Men Competing:
3000-Meter: Dylan Day
High Jump: Allen Gordon
Shot Put: Brian Williams
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