Raven Saunders and Janeah Stewart placed fourth and fifth in the nation in the shot put to lead the 20th-ranked Ole Miss women at the NCAA Championships Thursday.
The duo scored nine team points for the Rebels, which places them 10th in the team standings heading into Saturday’s final day of the women’s competition.
It was a strange shot put competition for the 9,904 track & field fans at Oregon’s Historic Hayward Field in that Saunders did not make any history, which speaks to her reputation over her career. After winning NCAA outdoor crowns as a freshman and sophomore and indoor titles as a freshman and junior, the all-time collegiate record holder could not connect on a big legal throw, finishing fourth with a mark of 17.47m/57-3.75 despite a couple of fouls that were much farther.
In her NCAA debut, Stewart came through with a fifth-place finish and a throw of 17.42m/57-2 on her fourth attempt of the competition. The junior college transfer made the NCAA meet in all three of her throws, one of only two women to do so this year. She placed 10th in the hammer throw earlier Thursday with a toss of 63.30m/207-8, just missing the nine-person final. She will compete in the discus Saturday.
Saunders’ and Stewart’s performances in the shot put are second- and third-best in school history behind Saunders’ title a year ago and will earn them first team All-America distinction. Stewart’s hammer throw result is the best in Ole Miss history and will grant her second team All-America status in the event.
Making a third straight appearance at the NCAA Championships, Ole Miss’ 4×100-meter relay placed 19th in an event full of chaos Thursday. With co-NCAA record holders Oregon already DQ’d in the West Preliminary, fellow record holders LSU disqualified with an out-of-zone pass in the semifinals. Miami and Texas A&M also DQ’d, while Auburn did not finish. With the attrition, the Rebels’ quartet of Nicole Henderson, Shannon Ray, Deanna Tate and Breanna Tate finished 19th with a time of 45.12.
In her NCAA Championships debut, junior Shelby Brown ran 10:24.05 in the 3000-meter steeplechase semifinals for 23rd place. She closes out an incredible 2017 campaign after breaking outdoor school records in the steeplechase and 1500 meters and indoor school records in the mile, 3000 meters and distance medley relay.
Friday will feature the final day of men’s competition, and three Ole Miss athletes will look to score big points. NCAA discus leader Brian Williams will go for the title at 7:05 p.m. CT. Senior Craig Engels will go for the 1500-meter crown at 7:42 p.m. (ESPN), and fellow senior MJ Erb will try for a win in the steeplechase at 7:54 p.m. (ESPN).
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Women’s 3000-Meter Steeplechase Semifinals
23. Shelby Brown – 10:24.05
Women’s 4×100-Meter Relay Semifinals
19. Ole Miss (Nicole Henderson, Shannon Ray, Deanna Tate, Breanna Tate) – 45.12
Women’s Shot Put
4. Raven Saunders – 17.47m/57-3.75 (5 points)
5. Janeah Stewart – 17.42m/57-2 (4 points)
Women’s Hammer Throw
10. Janeah Stewart – 63.30m/207-8