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Two Rebels Claim Gold for Team USA at NACAC U-23 Championships

Raven Saunders, photo by Joshua McCoy (@olemisspix)
Raven Saunders, photo by Joshua McCoy (@olemisspix)

Two current Rebels and one future member of the Ole Miss track & field team won medals for Team USA at the 2016 NACAC U-23 Championships over the weekend.

Competing against other top athletes under 23 years old from North America, Central America and the Caribbean, Ole Miss sophomore Raven Saunders won gold in the women’s shot put, signee Brian Williams won gold in the men’s discus, and junior M.J. Erb captured silver in the men’s 3000-meter steeplechase.

Saunders broke another meet record in what has been one of the best seasons ever by a women’s collegiate thrower. She broke the previous NACAC U-23 meet record (17.43m/57-2.25 by Karen Shump in 2010) on her first attempt of the competition, while all three of her legal throws were farther than the previous mark. Her best of the day ended up being 18.49 meters (60-8).

The Charleston, South Carolina, native, who last week qualified for the Rio Olympics by finishing second in the shot put at the U.S. Olympic Trials, also broke SEC outdoor and NCAA outdoor meet records and the all-time indoor and outdoor collegiate records in the shot put this year. She is one of three finalists for the prestigious Bowerman Award, the top individual honor in college track & field.

Williams, who just completed his sophomore season at Iowa Central Community College, won the men’s discus competition in El Salvador with a mark of 58.00m/190-3. He set the all-time junior college discus record earlier this year and will join the Rebels this fall.

Erb, who ran in the final of the steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Trials last week, captured second place in the event at the NACAC meet with a time of 9:12.25. He earned first team All-America honors and All-SEC accolades in the event this year.

Ole Miss will send seven total members of its track & field family to compete in Brazil next month. Five will don USA uniforms (Gwen Berry, Sam Kendricks, Brittney Reese, Ricky Robertson, Saunders), while two will represent Nigeria (Antwon Hicks, Khadijah Suleman) at the Olympic Games.

Rebel head coach Connie Price-Smith is the Olympic head coach for the U.S. women in Rio.

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

Article courtesy Ole Miss Sports.

For questions or comments, email adam.brown@hottytoddy.com.

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