OXFORD, Miss. - Ole Miss men's and women's track & field splits squad for the first time this outdoor season, sending distance runners out to California for both the Mt. SAC Relays and Bryan Clay Invite, with a separate delegation to Auburn for the War Eagle Invite.
TEAM NOTES This is the 60th running of the historic Mt. SAC Relays, which are normally held at Hilmer Lodge Stadium in Walnut, Calif., but are in their third year off-site in Torrance, while renovations are underway. Representing Ole Miss there will be Emily Bean (open 5K), Shelby Brown (elite steeplechase), Clio Ozanne-Jaques (open 5K), Sean Tobin (elite steeplechase) and Lisa Vogelgesang (elite steeplechase).
The remainder of the Rebel distance squad will compete at the Bryan Clay Invite in Azusa, which boasts a seriously competitive field both collegiately and professionally.
Ole Miss remains ranked in the women's national top-25 at No. 24 in the latest USTFCCCA National Computer Rankings. The Rebel men, meanwhile, moved up three slots to No. 37 after a superb weekend at home at the Joe Walker Invite.
The Rebel women have ranked in the top-25 for 14 straight outdoor rankings releases dating back to Connie Price-Smith's first season at Ole Miss in 2016. In her three seasons, the Rebel women have been ranked in 17 of the 24 outdoor rankings releases.
The Rebel women opened the season at No. 22, the highest preseason national ranking outdoors for the Rebel women since the USTFCCCA began the national rankings in 2008. Ole Miss opened the indoor season ranked No. 8 nationally. The Rebel women also rank No. 15 in the USTFCCCA Program of the Year standings following the indoor season.
Ole Miss holds 21 total national top-50 marks or times, with 11 coming from the Rebel women and 10 from the Rebel men.
Ole Miss made big jumps in the USTFCCCA #EventSquad rankings this past week, moving up to No. 2 nationally in the men's 1500 (3:43.63 average), No. 4 in the men's 800 (1:49.53 average), No. 5 in the women's hammer (58.76m/192-09 average) and No. 8 in the women's 400 (54.43 average).
The Rebels are coming off a superb weekend, despite the weather, at the Joe Walker Invite -- the final home meet for Ole Miss in 2018. The Rebels came away with 15 total event wins across two days of action, which featured two exciting men's races in the 800 and 1500 that led to several times that will likely qualify for the NCAA East Regional.
The prior week, Ole Miss traveled out to Georgia for the Spec Towns Invite, where the Rebels snagged five total event titles.
Ole Miss hosted its first home meet of the season on March 31, the Ole Miss Classic, where the Rebels claimed nine total event titles -- including six alone on the women's side.
The Rebels opened the season with two narrow scored team battles at the inaugural Trailblazer Challenge in Los Angeles on March 23-24, which featured the five Power-5 schools that have women in charge of combined men's and women's track & field programs: Miami (Amy Deem), Ohio State (Karen Dennis), Tennessee (Beth Alford-Sullivan), USC (Caryl Smith Gilbert), and Ole Miss' own Connie Price-Smith.
The No. 22 Rebel women fell in a tight battle with No. 4 USC, 148-141, while the men finished second to Ohio State, 152-113, while beating out the reigning indoor national runners-up, No. 7 USC (102).
Ole Miss is coming off an indoor season that ended with one First-Team All-American (Janeah Stewart, weight throw, third place) and seven Second-Team honorees. Price-Smith's squad also came away with two SEC individual titles (women's weight throw, men's mile).
Ole Miss returns two All-Americans from the outdoor season in 2017 in Janeah Stewart (shot put, First-Team; discus and hammer, Second-Team) and Brian Williams (discus, First-Team).
Ole Miss finished the 2017 season ranked within the top-10 in both the men's and women's USTFCCCA Program of the Year standings, with both Rebel squads finishing a program-high in the rankings. Ole Miss was one of three programs nationally to have both its men's and women's programs finish in the top-10 with the men in third and the women in eighth.
WOMEN'S NOTES Senior All-American Janeah Stewart is coming off a week where she set two season-bests, winning the shot put at a two-foot SB of 17.64m (57-10.50) to beat out professional thrower and Ole Miss volunteer coach Jeneva Stevens, and she took the discus title at a one-foot SB of 54.78m (179-09).
Stewart is currently one of two in the NCAA to rank in the national top-19 in the shot put (sixth, 17.64m/57-10.50), discus (19th, 54.78m/179-09) and hammer (fourth, 67.70m/222-01). Stewart was one of just two to triple at the national meet in 2017, the other being Arizona State's Maggie Ewen, who leads the NCAA in all three of those events. Stewart also ranks in the top-10 regionally in all three, sitting second in both the shot and hammer, while rankings seventh in the discus.
Stewart currently accounts for 57.43 of the 80.50 total points contributing to the No. 24 national ranking for the Rebel women.
Stewart ranks second all-time at Ole Miss in both the shot put (17.86m/58-07.25) and discus (56.39m/185-00), and she broke her own school record in the hammer by 10 feet in the season-opener in LA.
Outdoors in 2017, Stewart finished First-Team All-American in the shot put (fifth place), and Second-Team in both the discus (ninth) and hammer (10th).
Stewart finished the indoor season as the No. 5 weight thrower in the history of the NCAA at 24.12m (79-01.75). Three of the top-10 weight throwers on the NCAA all-time top-10 are pupils of head coach Connie Price-Smith and throws coach John Smith.
Sophomore Kieshonna Brooks set a PR in the heptathlon for the second-straight week at the Joe Walker Invite, eclipsing 5,000 points for the first time in her career at 5,057 - breaking her own national record in her native Saint Kitts and Nevis and putting her No. 35 in the NCAA. Brooks has held the national record there since the SEC Outdoor Championships in 2017.
Senior sprinters Shannon Ray and Jolie Carbo won five total event titles between them last week. Ray swept the 100 and 200, Carbo took the 400, and both were members of the winning 4x100-meter relay team.
Both have their hands on three different national top-50 times. Both sit 18th nationally in their marquee individual events, with Ray at a PR time of 11.25 in the 100-meter and Carbo at a PR 52.87 in the 400. Both are also part of two top-50 4x100-meter relays that rank 18th (44.10; Nicole Henderson, Alia Holmes, Carbo, Ray) and 32nd (44.61; Henderson, Mattix, Carbo, Ray).
Indoors in 2018, Carbo became one of just four Rebel women to ever break 54 seconds in the 400. On the outdoor Ole Miss list, Carbo is one of just five Rebel women to ever break 53 seconds.
Both Henderson and Ray were members of the 2017 4x100-meter relay team that qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Ray came within one-hundredth of a second of the all-time Ole Miss school record in the 100-meter dash in the season open at the Trailblazer Challenge, running the 11th-fastest time in the nation at 11.25 seconds (wind: 3.5). The Ole Miss record of 11.24 belongs to Teneeshia Jones, who ran it on Jun. 18, 2000, in Chapel Hill, N.C. with a 0.5 wind.
Redshirt junior Lindsey Murray set a season-best in the pole vault at 4.18m (13-08.50), currently the 16th-best in the NCAA and 10th in the East Region.
Murray missed the 2017 outdoor season due to injury, but is coming off yet another appearance at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, where she was the lone senior in competition to have qualified for the national meet all four years. She entered the 2018 outdoor season with the 10th-best PR nationally at her school-record height of 4.34m (14-02.75) from 2016.
Junior Maddie McHugh was named the SEC Women's Runner of the Week after an exciting 800 win at the Trailblazer Challenge to open the season, edging out Miami's Kayla Johnson at the finish line at 2:06.12 -- her best 800 open of her career. McHugh currently ranks fourth in the SEC while ranking 12th overall in the East Region and 16th in the nation at that time.
Fellow distance runner and senior Shelby Brown is coming off a very strong open in the 1500-meter at the Ole Miss Classic, where she won at a time of 4:20.47 -- just barely off her school-record time of 4:19.09 from 2017. Brown currently ranks third in the SEC, 18th in the East Region and 26th overall in the NCAA at that time. Brown was an NCAA qualifier in the steeplechase in 2017 after running a school-record 10:06.67 at the NCAA East Regional. That time entered the 2018 season as the 21st-best in the NCAA among returnees.
MEN'S NOTES Freshman Waleed Suliman was named the SEC Freshman of the Week after a stellar outdoor season open in the 800-meter at the Joe Walker Invite. Suliman opened at an overall career-best 1:47.29, currently the fastest time in the nation by a freshman. He leads the NCAA East Region by a half-second and ranks fifth overall in all of the NCAA.
Suliman's heroics in the 800 and the fast times that followed helped propel Ole Miss up to No. 4 nationally in the USTFCCCA #EventSquad rankings in the men's 800. The top four times on the team -- Suliman's, Griffin Riley's 1:50.02 (33rd East), Everett Smulders' 1:50.33 (36th East) and Cade Bethmann's 1:50.47 (40th East) -- make an average of 1:49.53, all from freshmen.
The night prior, the Rebel men put on a show in the 1500-meter, with five likely regional times clocked. Senior Robert Domanic led the way for Ole Miss at 3:42.32, currently No. 8 in the NCAA. Other times that followed were Sean Tobin's 3:42.82 (12th), Cade Bethmann's 3:44.56 (29th) and Trevor Gilley's 3:44.81 (35th).
Those four times put Ole Miss at No. 2 in the NCAA in the men's 1500-meter USTFCCCA #EventSquad rankings with an average of 3:43.63, which ranks behind national leader Oregon's 3:42.23.
Senior Brian Williams swept both of his throwing events at his final home meet as a Rebel, winning the shot put and discus at the Joe Walker Invite last week.
Williams leads all Rebels in the national top-50 with a No. 3 mark in the discus at 61.20m (200-09), his season-opening toss to win at the Trailblazer Challenge. That mark still leads the SEC and ranks No. 2 in the East Region.
Williams season-best and school record in the shot put of 18.67m (61-03.00) ranks eighth in the SEC, 13th in the East and 23rd in the NCAA,
That throw in the shot put broke the 2009 school record of 18.51m (60-08.75) set by Derek McGuire.
Williams holds a monster PR in the discus of 65.13m (213-08) from 2017, which won him an SEC title and broke the Ole Miss school record by 25 feet. It ended the year ranked No. 5 in the United States and No. 15 worldwide, earning him a spot at the USA Outdoor Championships last summer, where he finished fourth in the nation at 60.55m (198-08).
Williams was a First-Team All-American in the discus in 2017 after a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships at 59.95m (196-08).
Williams is currently contributing 35.89 of the 59.63 total points that the No. 37 Rebel men are receiving in the USTFCCCA Rankings.
Freshman Allen Gordon had an incredible weekend at Georgia two weeks ago, setting monster PRs in both the high jump and long jump.
Gordon first took third in the long jump at a two-foot PR of 7.62m (25-00.00) -- currently No. 39 in the NCAA and No. 23 in the East Region. He followed that up with another third-place finish in the high jump at 2.16m (7-01.00), making him one of just five Rebel men to ever clear 7-foot-1 or higher outdoors to improve on his standing in fifth all-time at Ole Miss. That jump currently ranks No. 23 nationally and No. 15 in the East Region.
Oregon grad transfer Cullen Prena is coming off a very productive weekend for the Rebels at the Ole Miss Classic, moving up the all-time lists in both the hammer and discus.
Prena was the runner-up in the discus at a four-foot PR of 56.28m (184-08), the third-best throw in school history which puts him No. 25 nationally and No. 15 in the East Region. Prena notched a one-inch hammer best two weeks ago at Georgia of 60.73m (199-03) to improve on his place in fifth all-time at Ole Miss and put him at No. 40 in the East Region.
Other Rebel men ranking within the top-48 of the NCAA East Region include: Parker Scott in the 1500 (32nd, 3:45.42), Manny Foster in the long jump (34th, 7.52m/24-08.25) and Peyton Weissmann in the pole vault (5.05m/16-06.75, 37th East).
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