Six Rebels Qualify for Rio Olympics
Ole Miss sophomore Raven Saunders has achieved her Olympic dream. (photo by Joshua McCoy)
July 10, 2016

USA Track & Field | Team USA

EUGENE, Ore. – Six members of the Ole Miss track & field family have qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, shattering the previous school record of two for the 1988, 1992 and 2012 Olympics.

The following Rebels have punched their tickets to the Rio Olympics and will compete August 12-21. The opening ceremonies will be held August 5.

Gwen Berry, USA – women’s hammer throw
Antwon Hicks, Nigeria – men’s 110-meter hurdles
Sam Kendricks, USA – men’s pole vault
Brittney Reese, USA – women’s long jump
Ricky Robertson, USA – men’s high jump
Raven Saunders, USA – women’s shot put

The all-time total of Ole Miss representatives to compete at the Olympics will balloon to 12 in Rio. Reese, the defending gold medalist in the long jump at the 2012 London Games, is making her third straight appearance for Team USA. The other five Rebels who have qualified for Rio will be making their Olympic debuts.

Other past Ole Miss Olympians include Allan Ince (1988, Barbados), Gary Kinder (1988, USA), Alvin Haynes (1992, Barbados), Tony Dees (1992, USA), Savante’ Stringfellow (2000, USA) and Isiah Young (2012, USA).

In addition to these athletes, Ole Miss will be represented in a big way in Rio by head coach Connie Price-Smith, who serves as the women’s Olympic head coach for Team USA. Price-Smith was a four-time Olympian (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000) and 25-time U.S. champion during her days as one of the world’s best shot put and discus throwers.

Rebel athletes shined throughout the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, over the last 10 days.

One current Rebel who excelled at a very high level but just missed the Olympic team in both the 800 meters and 1500 meters was Craig Engels. The junior from Pfafftown, North Carolina, had the meet of his life by finishing fourth in the 800 final in a personal-best 1:46.03 and then came in fifth in the 1500 final in a blistering PR and school-record time of 3:37.66. He overcame early obstacles when he stumbled and fell after a collision in the 800 semifinals but was reinstated to the final after an official review. He also had to wait until midway through the trials to find out if he would be accepted into the 1500 qualifying round as he had a borderline seed time entering the meet.

Below is a breakdown of each Rebel who has qualified for Rio.

Gwen Berry, USA
• Current Ole Miss volunteer assistant coach
• Three-time All-American thrower during her college career at Southern Illinois
• Placed second in the women’s hammer throw (73.09m/239-9) to make her first Olympic team
• Will be Ole Miss’ first representative in an Olympic hammer throw competition

Antwon Hicks, Nigeria
• Competed at Ole Miss from 2002-05
• Two-time NCAA champion and six-time All-American during his Rebel career
• Former U.S. athlete set a Nigerian national record with a time of 13.27 in the 110-meter hurdles
• Will make his first trip to the Olympics
• Second Ole Miss athlete to make the Olympics in the 110-meter hurdles (Tony Dees, 1992 silver medalist)

Sam Kendricks, USA
• Competed at Ole Miss from 2012-14
• Two-time NCAA champion and five-time All-American during his Rebel career
• 5-time U.S. champion in the pole vault
• Set an Olympic Trials record with his winning vault of 5.91m/19-4.75 to make his first Olympic team
• First Rebel to make the Olympics in the pole vault

Brittney Reese, USA
• Competed at Ole Miss from 2007-08
• Two-time NCAA champion and five-time SEC champion during her Rebel career
• Qualified for her third Olympics in the long jump: 2008 (fifth place), 2012 (gold medal)
• Set an Olympic Trials record and tied the Hayward Field record with her personal-best winning leap of 7.31m/23-11.75, the longest jump by any woman in the world since 2004
• Has now won nine U.S. titles during her illustrious career

Ricky Robertson, USA
• Competed at Ole Miss from 2010-14
• Three-time NCAA runner-up, seven-time All-American and seven-time SEC champion during his Rebel career
• Tied for sixth in the high jump at the Olympic Trials (2.21m/7-3), but qualified for his first Olympic team by being one of the top three finishers who had previously achieved the Olympic standard
• First Rebel to make the Olympics in the high jump

Raven Saunders, USA
• Current sophomore at Ole Miss
• Won the NCAA outdoor shot put title and broke the all-time collegiate indoor and outdoor shot put collegiate records in 2016
• Runner-up in the shot put at the Olympic Trials with a throw of 19.24m/63-1.5, the second-best mark of her career
• At 20 years old, will probably be the youngest shot putter at the Olympics
• First Rebel to make the Olympics in the shot put

One other Rebel is still trying to qualify for the Olympics. Recently graduated sprinter Khadijah Suleman is attempting to make the 4x100-meter relay pool for Team Nigeria. She will participate in a training camp in the coming days to determine her Olympic fate.



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



100 Meters – Semifinals
20. Isiah Young – 10.21

100 Meters – First Round
6. Isiah Young – 10.03Q

200 Meters – Semifinals
12. Isiah Young – 20.59

200 Meters – First Round
16. Isiah Young – 20.53Q

800 Meters – Final
4. Craig Engels – 1:46.03 (PR)

800 Meters – Semifinals
14. Craig Engels – 1:55.40q (advanced after official review)

800 Meters – First Round
11. Craig Engels – 1:47.77q
27. Holland Sherrer – 1:49.48

1500 Meters – Final
5. Craig Engels – 3:37.66 (PR) (SR)

1500 Meters – Semifinals
13. Craig Engels – 3:47.76Q
23. Isaac Presson – 3:51.27

1500 Meters – First Round
1. Craig Engels – 3:41.92Q
21. Isaac Presson – 3:50.01q

3000 Meter Steeplechase – Final
15. MJ Erb – 8:50.95

3000 Meter Steeplechase – First Round
14. MJ Erb – 8:37.60q

High Jump – Final
T6. Ricky Robertson – 2.21m/7-3 (RIO BOUND)

High Jump – Qualifying
T1. Ricky Robertson – 2.14m/7-0.25Q

Pole Vault – Final
1. Sam Kendricks – 5.91m/19-4.75 (PR) (MR) (RIO BOUND)

Pole Vault – Qualifying
T1. Sam Kendricks – 5.55m/18-0.5Q

Discus – Qualifying
18. Brian Williams – 55.90m/183-5


Long Jump – Final
1. Brittney Reese – 7.31m/23-11.75 (PR) (MR) (FR) (RIO BOUND)

Long Jump – Qualifying
1. Brittney Reese – 7.01m/23-0Q

Shot Put – Final
2. Raven Saunders – 19.24m/63-1.5 (RIO BOUND)
8. Jeneva Stevens – 18.25m/59-10.5

Shot Put – Qualifying
3. Raven Saunders – 18.43m/60-5.75Q
8. Jeneva Stevens – 17.79m/58-4.5Q
19. Jessica Ramsey – 16.64m/54-7.25

Hammer Throw
2. Gwen Berry – 73.09m/239-9 (RIO BOUND)
6. Jeneva Stevens – 67.86m/222-8
12. Jessica Ramsey – 66.00m/216-6




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