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