Olympic Hopes Await Thirteen Rebels in Track Town USA
June 30, 2016
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Ole Miss will be represented by at least four current athletes, one future athlete, four former athletes and four current volunteer assistant coaches in Eugene, regarded as Track Town USA for its great enthusiasm for the sport. Portions of the meet will air live on NBC, NBCSN and the NBC Sports app (see schedule below).
One Rebel already knows for sure that she will be in Rio this August. Ole Miss head coach Connie Price-Smith is also head coach for the U.S. women. A four-time Olympian herself (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000) when she was one of the world’s best shot put and discus throwers, she hopes to see some familiar faces make the trip with her to South America later this summer.
“It’s special knowing that this will be the team that I’m going to lead over to Rio, and we have a few (Ole Miss) athletes that have the potential to make that team,” Price-Smith said. “So it’s going to be really exciting to see how everything plays out in Eugene. There are a lot of good competitions going on right now in the country and a lot of good, young athletes coming up.
“As a coach it’s a little hard to watch because you know everything is on the line and you have people that get a victory and people that are defeated. It’s a happy and sad time. Everybody there is a great athlete, obviously, and to see somebody who should make it and doesn’t is heartbreaking, but to see some of the young kids or the underdogs come up and make it is exhilarating, so you have a lot of emotions that go on.”
One of Price-Smith’s current prized pupils is Raven Saunders, who is coming off a tremendous sophomore season in which she broke collegiate records in the indoor and outdoor shot put and won the NCAA outdoor title. One of three women’s finalists for the prestigious Bowerman Award, college track & field’s highest individual honor, Saunders has used her goal of making it to Rio as a motivator all season.
“Rio has always been the main goal for me,” said the Charleston, South Carolina, native. “Everything else has been a tune-up, a way to work up to that meet. When I was dreaming about it, I had to dream in chronological order. So I’d have to dream, ‘this is what I’m going to do at conference, this is what I’m going to do at regionals, nationals, Olympic Trials, and then Rio.’ It keeps me grounded and thinking about the now while still being able to imagine what I’m going to do in the future.”
One of at least three current Ole Miss men who will line up in Eugene is senior Holland Sherrer, who placed 10th in the 800 meters at the recent NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene to earn second team All-America honors.
“It is an honor and a blessing to have made it to the U.S. Olympic Trials,” said the New Jersey native. “I am looking forward to competing against some of the world’s best athletes and representing Ole Miss the best way I know how.”
In order to make the Team USA roster, athletes have to place top three in their event at the trials and meet the Olympic qualifying standard at either the trials or during the qualifying period (which dates back to 2015).
Other current Rebels set to compete at the trials include junior Craig Engels (men’s 800m) and sophomore MJ Erb (men’s steeplechase). Engels will also hope to run the 1500 if a few runners ranked ahead of him opt out of that distance. Same goes for senior Ryan Walling in the 5000.
Rebel signee Brian Williams will compete for Iowa Central Community College in the discus.
Leading the way among the former Rebel greats is Brittney Reese (long jump), who looks to make the U.S. squad so she can defend her 2012 Olympic gold medal. Oxford native Sam Kendricks (pole vault) is currently No. 2 in the world and will try to make his first Olympic team. Isiah Young (100m, 200m) looks to return to the Olympics after he was a semifinalist in the 200 in London. Ricky Robertson (high jump) hopes to make his first Olympic team.
Current volunteer assistants who will compete in Eugene are Gwen Berry (women’s hammer), Isaac Presson (men’s 1500m), Jessica Ramsey (women’s hammer, shot put) and Jeneva Stevens (women’s hammer, shot put).
Below are brief bios on each Rebel and the schedule broken down by Ole Miss participants.
Current Volunteer Assistants:
Rebels’ Schedule at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials:
Friday, July 1
5:10 pm PT – W Long Jump Qualifying – Brittney Reese
Saturday, July 2
10:30 am PT – M Pole Vault Qualifying – Sam Kendricks
11:45 am PT – W Long Jump Final – Brittney Reese (if qualified) (NBC | Web Stream)
1:01 pm PT – M 100m 1st Round – Isiah Young
Sunday, July 3
4:19 pm PT – M 100m Semifinals – Isiah Young (if qualified)
5:53 pm PT – M 100m Final – Isiah Young (if qualified) (NBC | Web Stream)
Monday, July 4
3:30 pm PT – M Pole Vault Final – Sam Kendricks (if qualified) (NBCSN | Web Stream)
4:33 pm PT – M Steeplechase 1st Round – MJ Erb
Tuesday, July 5
Wednesday, July 6
1:00 pm PT – W Hammer Throw Qualifying – Gwen Berry, Jeneva Stevens, Jessica Ramsey
3:00 pm PT – W Hammer Throw Final – Gwen Berry, Jeneva Stevens, Jessica Ramsey (if qualified)
Thursday, July 7
11:00 am PT – W Shot Put Qualifying – Raven Saunders, Jeneva Stevens, Jessica Ramsey
5:30 pm PT – M 200m 1st Round – Isiah Young
6:00 pm PT – M Discus Qualifying – Brian Williams
7:21 pm PT – M 1500m 1st Round – Isaac Presson
Friday, July 8
3:30 pm PT – M Discus Final – Brian Williams (if qualified) (NBCSN | Web Stream)
4:00 pm PT – M High Jump Qualifying – Ricky Robertson
4:12 pm PT – M 1500m Semifinals – Isaac Presson (if qualified) (NBCSN)
5:37 pm PT – M 200m Semifinals – Isiah Young (if qualified)
Saturday, July 9
5:42 pm PT – M 200m Final – Isiah Young (if qualified) (NBC | Web Stream)
Sunday, July 10
3:00 pm PT – M High Jump Final – Ricky Robertson (if qualified)
5:20 pm PT – M 1500m Final – Isaac Presson (if qualified) (NBC | Web Stream)
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