Ole Miss Track & Field Season Preview: Part III
Jan. 12, 2017

Commodore Invitational: Meet Info | Ole Miss Notes | Live Results | Schedule | Entries

In 2017, Ole Miss looks to carry the momentum from head coach Connie Price-Smith’s first season at the helm in 2016 when the Rebels broke numerous records and posted some of their best showings in program history. Part III of this three-part season preview series looks at the Ole Miss distance runners. The 2017 indoor season begins Friday at the Commodore Invitational in Nashville, Tennessee. Part I: Sprints, Hurdles, Jumps. Part II: Throws, Multi-Events

The success that Ole Miss experienced last spring and into the summer and fall under head coach Connie Price-Smith and distance coach Ryan Vanhoy has been nothing short of spectacular. And even more impressive considering the Rebels’ relatively recent added emphasis on distance running.

To recap 2016 in a nutshell:

  • Swept the men’s distance races at SEC Indoor Championships (only school other than Arkansas to accomplish that feat)
  • 73 of the school-record 80.5 men’s team points were from distance runners, helping Ole Miss tie for its best SEC indoor finish in school history (3rd)
  • Men had 1-2-3 finishes in the SEC indoor mile and 3000m
  • Third straight SEC men’s distance medley relay title
  • Five of the school-record six indoor All-Americans were distance runners
  • 12 of the 19 total school records broken in 2016 were in distance events
  • Five of the school-record 13 outdoor All-Americans were distance runners
  • Craig Engels, MJ Erb and Holland Sherrer ran at the U.S. Olympic Trials, with Engels just missing an Olympic berth finishing fourth in the 800m and fifth in the 1500m
  • Rebel men (4th) and women (23rd) surged to best NCAA cross country finishes in school history in 2016
  • MJ Erb (6th) and Wesley Gallagher (39th) earned XC All-America honors

Needless to say, much is expected of the Rebels in 2017 after building so much momentum.

The men return a slew of high-level juniors and seniors, including Robert Domanic (Lewisville, Texas), Craig Engels (Pfafftown, N.C.), MJ Erb (Farmington, N.Y.), Wesley Gallagher (Pembroke, Mass.), Derek Gutierrez (Keller, Texas), Ryan Manahan (Marcellus, N.Y.) and Sean Tobin (Clonmel, Ireland), all of whom have earned one or more All-America honors for indoor, outdoor or cross country.

Last year, Engels became the first Ole Miss man to win an SEC 1500-meter title, while the quartet of Domanic, Gutierrez, Engels and Tobin earned first team All-America in the distance medley relay for the first time in program history.

“When you get to that level, and you compete well, it really opens your eyes to what competition is like there, and it gives you the motivation to want to get back to that level and do even better,” said Vanhoy, who was awarded 2016 USTFCCCA South Region Men’s Indoor Assistant Coach of the Year and 2016 USTFCCCA South Region Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year. “I think last track season was kind of the first taste for a lot of our group having high-level success and it has definitely motivated them coming into this year.”

Other key men’s contributors will include Taylor Caldwell (Brentwood, Tenn.), Ian Carter (Trussville, Ala.), Trevor Gilley (Southlake, Texas), Mark Robertson (Pensacola, Fla.) and Parker Scott (Corpus Christi, Texas), among others.

The women had an amazing number of record accomplishments in 2016, including school records in all but one event longer than 800 meters. Returning for her junior year is Emily Bean (Louisville, Ky.), who broke Ole Miss records in the indoor 5000, outdoor 5000 and outdoor 10,000 a year ago.

Other returning veterans who rank highly among the Rebels’ all-time best distance runners are junior Shelby Brown (Phoenix, Ariz.) and junior Mary Alex England (Cary, N.C.). Team depth is one of the strengths of this year’s women’s distance groups, which also includes major contributors Anna Braswell (Mobile, Ala.), Hannah Christen (Burke, Va.), Katherine MacNeal (Weston, Fla.) and Maddie McHugh (Cornelius, N.C.), among several others who could step up and shine on any given day.

In their first NCAA cross country appearance, the Rebels finished 23rd, giving them added momentum and motivation for the indoor season.

“We had a great cross season, so I think this indoor should be really exciting,” Price-Smith said.

“Anytime you come off a good season, obviously it’s a little easier to carry that momentum forward,” Vanhoy added. “We’ll look to continue to compete and train at a high level moving into the track seasons.”

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






  • Loading Tweets...
    1 second ago