Nationally Ranked Rebels Host Joe Walker Invitational
March 23, 2017

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BLOG: Honoring Former Ole Miss Track Coach Joe Walker

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OXFORD, Miss. --
It's been three years since athletes toed the line for a track & field meet on the Ole Miss campus, and the nationally ranked Rebels are excited to host the Joe Walker Invitational this Friday and Saturday for the outdoor season opener.

About 20 colleges and universities will visit Oxford to compete against the No. 13 Ole Miss men and 23rd-ranked Rebel women during the two-day event. Admission is free at the newly renovated Ole Miss Track & Field Complex, and there will be complimentary crawfish at noon on Saturday for as long as it lasts.

Events begin at 1 p.m. CT on Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday. A few featured events with world-class participants include the men's pole vault (4 p.m. Friday), women's invitational hammer throw (11 a.m. Saturday), men's discus throw (3 p.m. Saturday), women's shot put (3 p.m. Saturday) and men's 110-meter hurdles (3:10 p.m. Saturday).

Fans and families are encouraged to park at the Tad Smith Coliseum parking lot across Hill Drive from the track. The parking garage adjacent to The Pavilion will also be open on Saturday.

"We are really excited to host the Joe Walker Invitational and to be able to showcase our beautiful facility and our hard-working young men and women for the Ole Miss faithful," said second-year head coach Connie Price-Smith, who has already directed the program to several of its best NCAA and SEC finishes ever in cross country, indoor and outdoor.

Among the college and professional athletes in Oxford this weekend will be four Olympians making their outdoor season debuts:

  • Sam Kendricks, USA -- 2016 Rio Olympics -- Men's Pole Vault -- Bronze Medal
  • Raven Saunders, USA -- 2016 Rio Olympics -- Women's Shot Put -- 5th place
  • Gwen Berry, USA -- 2016 Rio Olympics -- Women's Hammer Throw
  • Greggmar Swift, Barbados -- 2012 London Olympics -- Men's 110m Hurdles

The inaugural Joe Walker Invitational is named for the former Ole Miss track & field coach who led the Rebels to 11 top-20 national finishes, 124 All-America honors, 12 NCAA individual champions and 60 SEC individual titles during his 30-year career in Oxford. Known for his ability to groom elite-level jumpers and hurdlers and for his warm and caring persona, Walker was inducted into the Ole Miss M-Club Alumni Hall of Fame in 2016.


  • This is the first meet at the Ole Miss Track & Field Complex since it underwent a $7.2 million renovation (completed inSeptember 2016) that includes a new track surface, infield, videoboard and throwing area adjacent to the track.
  • The Ole Miss men are 13th and the women are 23rd in the USTFCCCA preseason outdoor national rankings ... Firsttime since the USTFCCCA began national rankings in 2008 that the Rebel women are top 25 in the preseason outdoor rankings ... The men have their highest outdoor ranking since 2014.
  • Head coach Connie Price-Smith, who served as Team USA women's head coach in Rio and was elected to theUSATF Hall of Fame in 2016, is in her second season at the Ole Miss helm.
  • Ole Miss had a great showing at the NCAA Indoor Championships, with the women tying for 12th (best in schoolhistory) and the men tying for 16th ... Raven Saunders won the NCAA shot put crown and broke her own collegiate record with a massive effort of 19.56m/64-2.25, while Ole Miss won its first relay national title with the DMR squad of Craig Engels, Nick DeRay, Sean Tobin and Robert Domanic.
  • Saunders, a 2016 Bowerman Finalist and Rio Olympian, was SEC and NCAA outdoor shot put champion last year,setting meet records at both championships ... She also was the SEC Commissioner's Trophy winner last year after placing first in the shot put, second in the discus and sixth in the hammer at the league outdoor meet.
  • Returning men's outdoor All-Americans include Robert Domanic (1500m), Craig Engels (1500m), MJ Erb(steeplechase) and Dempsey McGuigan (hammer throw) ... Ole Miss also boasts returning indoor All-Americans Nick DeRay, Derek Gutierrez, Ryan Manahan, Sean Tobin and Brian Williams
  • Williams, a newcomer this season, set the national junior college discus record last year while at Iowa Central.
  • Returning women's outdoor All-Americans include Nicole Henderson (4x100m relay), Lindsey Murray (polevault), Shannon Ray (4x100m relay, 200m), Saunders (shot put) and Breanna Tate (4x100m relay).
  • Returning SEC outdoor champions are Engels (men's 1500m) and Saunders (women's shot put).
  • Janeah Stewart, who won the SEC indoor weight throw title and was an All-American in both the shot put andweight throw, was the national junior college athlete of the year in 2016 with Iowa Central.

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






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