The Ole Miss Track and Field team is on the move. Going into the second week of the outdoor season, the pressure is on the Rebels to live up to the hype created by the indoor season where they tied their best SEC performance in school history.
Most track and field fans attribute this success to the new coaching staff, and they wouldn’t be wrong. The new Ole Miss head coach of track and field, Connie Price-Smith will also be the head coach for Team USA at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Smith is the most decorated female thrower in American history. For her new head coach position at Ole Miss she has brought the staff she believes will get the job done in the SEC. Now she is seeing the results of her hard work in the track and field team.
One of Smith’s secret weapons comes in the form of Raven Saunders, the transfer sophomore and throwing phenom from South Carolina. Saunders broke the collegiate record in the shotput (63.09 feet) in her first season as a Rebel. Saunders also won the SEC title in the shotput without much resistance. Saunders is looking forward to throwing three different events in the outdoor season,
“You can’t just be good at one thing in this game, you gotta be able to score in multiple events at meets,” Saunders said.
This weekend the Rebels are in Gainesville, Florida to compete in the Florida Relays where most of the big name teams in the NCAA clash before the Outdoor Championships in June. This meet will be a good indicator for what the team is capable of when the post-season rolls around, as well as a good opportunity to see what the other powerhouses in the SEC are bringing to the table this season.
The Rebels will compete in events from Thursday, March 31 through Saturday, April 2 in both regular collegiate events as well as some professional invitational events. Raven Saunders will compete in the pro invite for both shotput and discus.
Sophomore Dempsy McGuigan will compete in the pro invite for the hammer throw on Friday. McGuigan is the current school record holder at Ole Miss as well as the Irish Junior record holder in the hammer throw (229.8 ft), that throw also made him the European Club Cup Champion. The pro invitational hammer competition on Friday will include some of the best professional throwers in the USA, and McGuigan will be right in the mix representing the Rebels.
“It’s exciting. Will be as close to a national championship as it gets prior to NCAAs,” McGuigan said. “It’ll also be my first time competing alongside Kibwe Johnson, American Champion and Olympian, so hopefully I can make good use of the guys in competition and get s close to that 70 meter barrier as possible.”
The interested Ole Miss track and field fans can keep an eye on the results live at http://results.deltatiming.com/tf.2016-florida-relays. The fans can also watch the meet streaming on the SEC network via Watch ESPN from 11-3:30 p.m CT on Friday and from 1:30-6:30 p.m. CT on Saturday.
Nathan Loe is a journalism 500 student at The Meek School of Journalism and New Media and can be emailed at email@example.com.