Seven Rebels Qualify for NCAA Indoor Championships
March 2, 2016
NCAA Indoor Championships Accepted Athletes
The NCAA announced Tuesday night the top 16 accepted men's and women's athletes in each individual event and top 12 accepted entries in each relay event as qualifiers for the national meet. The championships will be held Friday and Saturday, March 11-12, at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Alabama.
The total of seven accepted athletes for the NCAA indoor meet is the third-highest in school history behind the totals of eight in 2010 and 1985.
Five Rebel men will be making their NCAA Indoor Championships debuts – Ryan Walling in the 5000 meters and the distance medley relay quartet of Robert Domanic, Ryan Manahan, Craig Engels and Sean Tobin.
Walling, a graduate transfer from North Carolina, is coming off an amazing SEC indoor meet in which he won conference titles in both the 3000 meters and 5000 meters. He’s the first athlete in program history to win the SEC 3K/5K double and earned a share of the Cliff Harper Trophy as the male high points scorer at the meet last week in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Walling ranks fifth nationally in the 5000 meters with a school-record time of 13:39.44 he ran three weeks ago at the Iowa State Classic. The Cary, North Carolina, native will be the first Rebel to compete at nationals in the longest indoor distance event since Pablo Sierra in 1993.
Ole Miss has become known for its men’s distance medley relay, earning a third straight SEC title in the event last week. The Rebels have raced to new heights in the DMR this year, including a school-record 9:30.48 at the Penn State National meet on January 29 and an SEC meet-record 9:37.14 in Fayetteville. Ole Miss comes into the national meet ranked 12th in the event this year.
This will be the Rebels’ second appearance at nationals in the DMR. The first was in 1985.
A pair of Ole Miss women will be returning to the NCAA indoor meet, but in a different uniform than the last time. Former Southern Illinois Salukis Raven Saunders and Lindsey Murray, both sophomores, will make their Rebel debuts at nationals.
Saunders has put together the best shot put season in NCAA history this year, throwing a collegiate record 19.23m/63-1.25 on February 13 at the Iowa State Classic. It was the best throw ever by an NCAA woman, indoor or outdoor. The Charleston, South Carolina, native has the best 12 shot puts in the NCAA this year. She won her first SEC title last week and has set a meet or facility record almost every time out.
As a freshman at SIU last year, Saunders won the NCAA indoor and outdoor shot put titles as well as breaking the all-time U.S. junior records for indoor (18.62m/61-1.25) and outdoor (18.35m/60-2.5).
Murray, a native of Harrisburg, Illinois, is the No. 14 seed in the women’s pole vault after she broke the school record with a clearance of 4.29m/14-0.75 on January 30 at the Vanderbilt Invitational. The first woman in Ole Miss history to clear 14 feet, she returns to the NCAA indoor stage after placing ninth as a freshman last year.
Saunders is the first Ole Miss woman to advance to indoor nationals in the shot put, while Murray is the second to do so in the pole vault (Neal Tisher in 2012).
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