June 15, 2015
2015 USTFCCCA Outdoor All-Americans
NEW ORLEANS -- A record-breaking Ole Miss outdoor track & field season ended last weekend in fitting fashion -- with more records.
Nine Ole Miss Rebels earned All-America honors based on their performances at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon, breaking the 2011 team's previous school record of eight. The All-America honors were announced Monday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
In the sprinting events, the eight finalists were named first team All-American; in the distances and field, the top eight finishers were named first team. In all events, finishers 9-16 were named second team All-American, and the rest of the competitors were named honorable mention. Schools must be USTFCCCA members for their student-athletes to receive All-America honors.
By placing seventh in the 4x100-meter final on Saturday, the Ole Miss quartet of Nicole Henderson, Shannon Ray, Khadijah Suleman and Jhorden Hunter earned first team All-America honors. It's the first All-America distinction for any of the four, and the first time an Ole Miss women's relay has ever made an NCAA final and garnered All-America accolades.
The relay squad had a magical season going all the way back to March. At the season debut Alabama Relays, they won the meet with a time of 44.73, best time in school history for the month of March. They continued lowering their time and remained undefeated against college competition throughout April. They first eclipsed the school record with a meet-record 44.11 at the Virginia Challenge on April 17, followed by a blistering 43.80 at the LSU Invitational on May 2.
It seemed that their momentum may have been lost when Hunter was injured at the SEC Championships, but Breanna Tate stepped into the anchor leg role admirably, helping them place sixth at the SEC meet (44.35) and then advance through the NCAA East Preliminary with a sensational 43.89 that ranks that unit No. 2 in school history.
Rebels who finished ninth through 16th in Eugene to earn second-team status were Jalen Miller in the 100 (16th, 10.22), Craig Engels in the 800 (8th, 1:47.33, but did not make final), Robert Domanic in the 1500 (15th, 3:46.27), Branden Greene in the high jump (14th, 2.12m/6-11.5), Ray in the 200 (23.03) and Fabia McDonald in the heptathlon (13th, school-record 5,757).
Miller, a sophomore from Tunica, Mississippi, added second-team outdoor honors to his first-team indoor status in the 60. He becomes the third Rebel ever to be an All-American in the indoor 60 and outdoor 100 in the same year, joining Mike Granger (2011) and Isiah Young (2012).
Engels, a sophomore who transferred from NC State prior to indoor season, earned All-America distinction for the first time in his career and is the Rebel men's first 800-meter All-American since NCAA champion George Kersh in 1991. He was .04 of a second from advancing to the NCAA final.
Domanic, a sophomore by way of Lewisville, Texas, is the first person in school history to earn All-America honors in the 1500. He was .05 of a second from advancing to the NCAA final.
Greene, a junior college transfer from San Diego, California, makes All-America for the first time in his career. Ole Miss has now had an indoor or outdoor All-America in the high jump every year since 2010.
A freshman from New Orleans, Ray completed her sensational rookie year by earning first-team honors in the 4x100 relay and second-team in the 200. Her 23.03 (+4.6 meters per second tailwind) would have been second-best in school history with a legal wind. She's the first Ole Miss woman ever to earn outdoor All-America honors in the 200.
McDonald, a senior from Middletown, Ohio, broke her own school record for the second time this year with a score of 5,757. Her 13th-place finish is the highest ever for an Ole Miss heptathlete.
Other Rebels who competed at the NCAA Championships and received honorable mention All-America distinction were Holland Sherrer in the 800 (24th, 1:52.98), Trevor Gilley in the 1500 (18th, 3:46.93), Robert Semien in the 110 hurdles (20th, 13.89), the men's 4x100 squad of Quintavius Burdette, Semien, Darryl Brown and Miller (20th, 41.00), Adam Aguirre in the high jump (24th, 2.08m/6-9.75), Brooke Feldmeier in the 800 (23rd, 2:13.65) and Brittany Kelly in the heptathlon (21st, 5394).
The current All-America format has been in place since 2011. From 1985-2010, All-America honors were only awarded to the top eight U.S.-born finishers at the championships. From 1982-84, honors were given to the top 12 finishers in each event.
For more information on Ole Miss Track & Field, follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissTrack, as well as Facebook and Instagram. And follow Coach O'Neal at @CoachBrianOneal.